WEEK 4, DAY 23: ACCOUNTABLE
Accountable and Recalibrate by Stephanie Matthews, CFR
Scripture Reference: Nehemiah 13
Nehemiah 13 is a burst of dramatic activity amidst chapters of “roll call” genealogy, so it warrants a close examination. In many ways, this final chapter is not at all how I thought this story would end. After all of the work, all of the camaraderie, ethnic bonding, and unity of purpose, it all goes to Hades in a handbasket shortly after Nehemiah returns to his position in the courts of King Artaxerxes.
Accountable and Recalibrate
Thank goodness, Nehemiah returns to hold the people accountable and recalibrate how things are done. What I appreciate about this passage is how God exposes everyone’s contribution to the corporate problem:
- The biggest abomination: Tobiah the Ammonite had taken up residence in an empty storehouse room of the Temple by a compromising Priest Eliashib.
- Next abomination: The storehouse was empty because the Rulers had not been collecting provisions for the Levites.
- Next abomination: With no provisions, the Levites went home and were not ministering in the temple as appointed.
- Next abomination: Without the Levites, the Sabbath was not practiced and leadership of the area was left to the Nobles.
- Next abomination: In the hands of the Nobles, financial gain became the greater goal and thus commerce was permitted on the Sabbath.
- Final abomination: With financial gain (rather than consecration to God) at the center of daily life, intermarriage with pagan people became a prosperity strategy of the people.
God intends the interconnectedness of community to work for our good, but when each person in the community doesn’t value their consecration to God, that interconnectedness makes us more vulnerable to sin. It’s obvious to see how each group was made vulnerable by the other, but the converse is true as well. At any point, one of those contributors could have remained true to God and broken the cycle.
In our own lives, we can often see the domino effect of poor choices leading to more poor choices. Like Nehemiah, though, we can address each component head on and begin to set things right. At the right time, like with Jerusalem, God is faithful to expose what needs to be adjusted or realigned with His original plan for our lives.
Daddy, we want to spend time in your presence, so thank you for receiving us and making it possible in the first place through the sacrifice and obedience of Jesus! You are the master designer who created the world and set the universe in perfect order. In that perfection, you created humanity to be interconnected with one another. You intend that interconnection to work for our good, but sometimes it does not work according to your established plan. Forgive us for where we step out of harmony with your prescription, and seek our own good or preference and thus cause hardship for others.
Father, thank you, though, that at any minute the converse can be true as well–we can step in and be a blessing to others! As in Nehemiah 13, help us to see the extent of how our actions have a good or negative consequence for others and the body of Christ. Correct us where we need correction and affirm what needs to continue. Draw us into habits that naturally benefit others and honor you.
Most importantly, God, we declare that there is no life that is so far off track that you can’t set it back in order and on schedule! If you can restore your temple, you can restore our lives, redeem our mistakes, and use every part of our experiences for our good! Restore our lives, our families, our communities, and our Nation with your foundation.