Sunday, October 19, 2008


Tobiah the Ammonite was an avowed enemy of the Jews. He was very displeased when he heard that someone had come to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of its walls (Neh. 2:10). Together with Sanballat he aggressively opposed the work of the remnant. He ridiculed their efforts (Neh. 4:3). He sent letters to frighten Nehemiah (Neh. 7:19). Despite all of his efforts the wall was finished, the people were spiritually revived, and Jerusalem was repopulated.

You'd think that that would have been it for Tobiah. But surprisingly we read about him again in Nehemiah ch. 13. While Nehemiah was away in Babylon, Eliashib the priest worked out a deal with Tobiah. Tobiah needed a storage unit for some of his stuff, so Eliashib moved out the temple utensils and offerings out of a great chamber, located in the courts of the house of God, and moved in Tobiah's household goods (Neh. 13:8). Did I mention that Tobiah was related to Eliashib?

Nehemiah was none too happy when he returned from Babylon. When he "learned about the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah" he threw all of Tobiah's household belongings out of the room. Then he fumigated the place (Neh. 13:9).

Tobiah is symbolic of the tenacious nature of the Devil and sin. The Devil is always looking for a way to gain a foothold in our lives. When one method fails, he looks for another. He has someone close at hand, the flesh, whereby he works to gain a foothold. He would take up residence--build a fortress--that he might diminish our devotion and weaken our resolve.

Where would the remnant have been without Nehemiah? He was zealous for God, for God's Word, and for God's people. He pulled no punches when it came to defending God's honor. He earnestly sought what was best for God's people. Who serves in that role in our lives? The Holy Spirit. As tenacious as sin is, the Holy Spirit is in convicting of sin. He patiently reproves, corrects, and trains that we might put off sin.

The Holy Spirit never leaves us. Nehemiah had to leave for a while, and while he was gone all hell broke loose amongst the remnant (Cf. Neh. 13). But the Holy Spirit never leaves the born-gain believer. His convicting, teaching, fruit-bearing influence is always there. To be sure we can work against Him when we do not walk in Him or if we grieve Him or quench Him, but He is ready and willing to fight the Tobiah-like influence of sin in our lives.

Nehemiah was zealous for God and unwilling to compromise. The Holy Spirit is zealous in His efforts to make us like Christ. Praise God for His loving and powerful work in our lives.

Pastor Jerry

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