Cleaning House

Cleaning House

A company held an inter-office softball game every year between the marketing department and administrative department. One year, the administrative department whipped the marketing department soundly, but the marketing department demonstrated how they earn their living by posting this memo on the company bulletin board after the game:

“Attention! The marketing department is pleased to announce that we came in second place in the recent softball season, after losing but one game all year. The administrative department, however, had a rather dismal season, winning only one game.”

It’s amazing how people can be deceptive in what they say. Our politicians do it often. Satan does it continually. However, there is no excuse for deception in the Church. Now is not the time for misleading rhetoric, which seeks to avoid offending anybody or promotes a personal opinion. Now is the time for the Church to teach all the things Jesus commanded straight from the Word of God. As Christ’s disciples, it is time to declare, “Thus says the Lord…”

Our nation has lost its moral ground as is evidenced by the violence in our cities, schools, and churches, the injustice in the legal system, the political corruption, the racism which is espoused by all races, and the acceptance of homosexuality, trans-genderism, and all perversions.

Unless God brings a great revival, we are on the verge of a moral implosion with devastating results to the freedoms we have enjoyed in this country for hundreds of years. So now is NOT the time to be “politically correct”. It will take time to turn things around, but now is the time for God’s people to speak up, speak out, and speak clearly if we want to see a return to the biblical values that made this country great.

Nehemiah faced a similar situation in his day. He had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days. Then he spent 12 years rebuilding the people. They had committed themselves to the Lord and to complete obedience to His Word. Specifically, they promised God that they would not intermarry with unbelievers, that they would keep the Sabbath, and that they would support the ministry of the Temple.

Nehemiah was satisfied that he had completed the work God called him to do, so he went back to serve the king. Several years later, Nehemiah asked for a leave of absence to go back to Jerusalem and check on their progress. What he found was a huge disappointment. The enemies were no longer mocking outside the wall. They were residing in Jerusalem and in the Temple! The people had cast aside their commitments to God. They had forsaken their covenant and forgotten the God who raised them up again.

One of the first things Nehemiah did, upon returning to Jerusalem, was read the “Book of Moses” (the Law) to the people again. Again, it had a profound effect on those who heard it.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.

You see, the Bible is a living Word, active and powerful. But we have to keep reading it; otherwise, we will forget it. That’s what happened in Nehemiah’s day and it can happen in our day, too. It is important to read the Bible, declare it, obey it, and stay in it!

Like Nehemiah, we must put the Gospel before people, not share our own opinions, but proclaim what God has said in His Word. God’s Word alone has the power to turn people back to Him. God’s Word alone can change the downward trajectory of our nation. But first, we must…CLEAN UP GOD’S HOUSE.

We, the Church, have to deal with our sins before we can expect to deal with the sins of our nation. That’s what Nehemiah did. He took action to clean up God’s house.

Nehemiah 13:4-5 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.

Remember Tobiah? He was one of the mockers outside the wall, who also spread lies about Nehemiah. The high priest of Israel set up a place for Tobiah, an Ammonite, to live right in the temple complex! God’s law was very clear: No Ammonite was to participate in Temple worship; and yet, this Ammonite is living in the Temple complex itself. How did he get there?

While Nehemiah was gone, Tobiah, married into the priestly family. Eliashib, the high priest invited his son-in-law to live in one of the large chambers of the Temple.

Nehemiah 13:8-9 And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

With righteous anger, Nehemiah tossed out Tobiah’s stuff, fumigated the rooms, and restored them to their proper use. Then he found out why the storeroom had been empty for Tobiah to occupy.

Nehemiah 13:10 I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field.

The people didn’t keep the promise they made in chapter 10. They had stopped giving to support the Temple workers. Their gifts would have been stored in that storeroom, but since they weren’t giving anymore, the storeroom was empty and the Levites had to find other jobs.

Nehemiah 13:11-14 So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.

Nehemiah was zealous for God and he had authority from the king. He not only rebuked the religious leaders; he replaced some of them, and he restored real worship in the Temple.

You see, being godly does not mean compromising all the time. It does not mean being tolerant of sin. It means taking a stand against evil, wherever it is found, especially if it is in the Church. It is seldom a popular stand, especially if somebody’s relative is involved. Nevertheless, we must deal with it. When a spiritual leader is moving in a direction contrary to God’s Word, he must be corrected or replaced. Church discipline is never fun, but it is absolutely necessary if we’re going to have any influence in our culture.

So, if we want to see our nation turn back to God, then we must first clean up God’s house. That means God’s people need to repent.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

If, and only if, the Church repents and cleans up its own house, will God heal our land. Then, and only then, can we…CLEAN UP THE WHITE HOUSE.

When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem, he not only saw Tobiah in the Temple; he saw merchants in the streets on the Sabbath. So Nehemiah confronted the political leaders of Judah.

Nehemiah 13:15-18 In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

Nehemiah was alarmed. The people were disobeying God’s Law and violating the oath they had made in chapter 10. God had sent Israel into captivity for idolatry and not keeping the Sabbath. Now, they were in danger of suffering curses again.

God said in Jeremiah 17:27, “But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.”

The political leaders had repealed God’s “blue laws”, and Nehemiah confronts them on it. More than that, he takes action.

Nehemiah 13:19-22 As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.

Nehemiah took a stand on God’s Word against evil. He called the religious leaders to account. Then he called the political leaders to account, as well. We must not be afraid to confront our politicians, school boards, and religious leaders when they veer away from God’s Word.

For example, the Southern Baptists took a stand in 2015 in reference to the Supreme Court’s deliberation on same-sex marriage. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “The Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority nor is the culture itself. The Bible is God’s final authority about marriage and on this Book we stand…”

In that same speech, Dr. Floyd also reminded the convention of what the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Then later in the day, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution which said in part, “Resolved, that Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage; and be it further resolved no matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage…” (“Southern Baptists: Supreme Court is not final authority on gay marriage”, Todd's American Dispatch, June 16, 2015; www.foxnews.com)

This action encouraged other Christian churches to take similar action, including us. We included a definition of marriage and sexuality as part of our statement of faith in April 2016.

More recently, several churches across the nation resisted government orders to quit meeting for worship. Regardless of what the government says, churches are essential to the welfare of this country. We cannot afford to be silent, in spite of the persecution that comes from staying open and speaking out. Now is the time to clean up God’s House, the White House, but most importantly, it’s time to…CLEAN UP OUR HOUSE.

More than anything else, we must put our own home in order. It does us no good to call our religious and political leaders to account if we do not also call ourselves and our own families to account, as well. Again, that’s what Nehemiah did.

Nehemiah 13:23-24 In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people.

Intermarriage with unbelievers was against God’s law and contrary to the covenant they made in chapter 10. Intermarriage with foreign women, who were unbelievers and spoke another language, created a situation where half of the population could not read the Hebrew Scriptures nor participate in the Temple Services, leaving little hope for the future of a Jewish nation.

Nehemiah 13:25-31 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?” And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.

Nehemiah is really zealous for God here. This is the same zeal Jesus displayed when He drove out the money changers from the Temple. Nehemiah is very concerned about God’s people and the curses they will suffer again.

The high priest not only gave his daughter to Tobiah, an Ammonite, he took Sanballat’s (the chief mocker and Horonite) daughter to be a wife for his son. This disobedience by the nation’s religious leader led all the people to do the same.

The United States is in the same situation. As we watch our leaders break God’s commandments, our citizens are encouraged to do the same.

Furthermore, most of the people in the nation do not know the Word of God, and many of those in the Church, don’t obey it! This has caused of the downfall of our nation and the curses associated with disobedience are evident. The situation is desperate, requiring desperate action, especially when it comes to cleaning our own house. We must become part of the solution instead of part of the problem!

In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush said something in her commencement address to the graduates at Wellesley College that rings just as true today as it did back then. Wellesley College is an all-girls school, soaked in feminism, and this is what she said to those young women, “At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. But you will regret time that you did not spend with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. If you have children, they must come first. Our successes in this society depends on not what happens in the White House, but what happens inside your house”.

Let me say it again: “Our successes in this society depends on not what happens in the White House, but what happens inside your house.” These are desperate times. Therefore, don’t intermarry with unbelievers. Be zealous and clean up your own house. Get rid of those things that don’t belong, including any worldly media that pollutes your mind and the minds of your family. Lead your family to pursue and follow hard after Christ.

However, don’t do it in your own strength. Instead, do it in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Depend on the Lord. Lean wholly on Him, and He will begin the process of transformation, first in your house, then in His house, then in the White house. It’s our nation’s only hope.

This concludes our lessons from Nehemiah. It is time to put those lessons into practice. Don’t be like the people in Nehemiah’s day, who agreed with the Word of God and then forgot it. Stay in it and keep on doing it.

James 1:21-22 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.