Nehemiah 13:6-7 But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king.  Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem.  Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God.

Poor Nehemiah had been working very hard, not only to rebuild Jerusalem, but to firmly establish a culture in it that would safeguard against God’s Covenant People falling back into their old compromising ways.  The reason why they had just had to spend 70 years in exile in Babylon was their failure to uphold God’s revealed truth under the pressure of the godless ways of the people among whom they dwelt.  With God’s help, Nehemiah had successfully rebuilt the wall around the City to provide a symbolic delineation of the identity of Israel as the Covenant People.

As is always the case, any humanistic worldview that has no place for God or his revealed Truth is, by its very nature, intolerant of a worldview that has God and his Word at its centre.  We experience the same thing today in the increasing opposition of our own culture to our claim (in the light of God’s revealed Truth) that Jesus is the ONLY Saviour, making Christianity the ONLY true religion and providing the ONLY path to heaven!

Tobiah and his accomplices, Sanballat and Geshem, tried to use every trick in their trade to stop Nehemiah from building the wall, and when all their attempts failed they tried to lure Nehemiah into a ‘let’s-be-friends’ discussion on the plain of Ono (Chapter 6).  By God’s grace, the faithful leader saw through their humanistic scheming and said, “O NO”!.  Sadly, such knock-backs never discourage Satan from pressing on in his efforts, so when the dust had settled a bit, and Nehemiah had gone to visit King Artaxerxes in Babylon, Tobiah took the opportunity to ingratiate himself to Eliashib the priest in Jerusalem and to acquire for himself a large room in the Temple where he could influence things from the inside instead of having to attack from the outside.  Astute Nehemiah could see through this subtle strategy and ‘nipped it in the bud’.

It is important for us today to exercise the same discernment and to heed the Apostle Paul’s warning: “in order that Satan might not outwit us. … [ensuring that] we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11).  This is all very tricky for us.  We need to make it clear that the Eternal Gospel is very relevant to our culture (as it is to every culture), but without allowing our culture to modify it to make it more ‘acceptable’.  It is always relevant, but it will never be acceptable to unregenerate Man.

Satan’s most effective strategy has always been to “masquerade[s] as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).  We need to be constant in our watch for ‘Tobiahs’ seeking a room on the ‘inside’ among us; we need to encourage each other to stand firm on God’s revealed truth over against the pressure of the dictates of our culture to think otherwise; and we need to pray earnestly for a Spirit-led revival that will open the eyes of unbelievers to see just how relevant (in a ‘life-and-death’ sense) our ‘unacceptable’ Eternal Gospel really is.  May “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ make his light shine in [their] hearts to give [them] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 4:6).
– Bruce Christian