How can the people of God become allies with their enemies?

Nehemiah Bible Background

06.20.2017 – Old Testament: Neh 13.4–9

To read the Bible in a year, read Nehemiah 12–13 on June 20, In the year of our Lord 2017

By Don Ruhl

If you have read the Book of Nehemiah, you know the name Tobiah, and you know that he was a determined enemy of Israel. It will shock you to read this,

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense (Nehemiah 13.4–9). 

If you know Tobiah, you probably said, “What?” at that first sentence. What was with that priest? As Jesus once said, “The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16.8). Tobiah never would have done for any Jew what a Jew did for him. Eliashib may have thought he was doing a good work, which is fine, we should do good works for those who hate us, but including them in this manner is a different matter.

Questions:

  • Should doing good works for our enemies include putting them in charge of the church?
  • What good things should we do for them?

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