Christ Overcomes The Struggle Within (as seen through the book of Nehemiah)
“And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.” Nehemiah 2:1
Nehemiah served under Antaxerxes, the cupbearer of the King. This is representative of Christ. Christ bore the cup of sorrow for the whole world. Also, Antaxerxes let Nehemiah go to Jerusalem for only a set time, and this is demonstrative of the church age. One day, this time will come to a close and we will all be called home.
“When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” Nehemiah 2:10
Immediately upon the plan being enacted, Tobiah comes against it. Sanballat represents Satan in opposition to what Christ did for us, while Tobiah represents within us our old man, fighting against the Spirit to survive, as we were once servants under rule of evil.
“Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 2:20
Nehemiah rebuked Tobiah, and those with him, as Jesus would any man, woman, or child who denies Him. Jesus, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, constantly comes against our old man. As he fights for strength, we must constantly be in surrender to Christ so that our old man stays down.
“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” Nehemiah 4:1-3
We are those burnt stones, and we have been reclaimed for the Lord, and used by Him to do the work to which He has called, namely to stand in this world, not being a part of it, but separate, as a wall separates, to testify of something and Someone greater than ourselves, namely Christ, Who works within us to get us to do what the world thinks we cannot. Notice how Satan constantly accuses and threatens, just as demonstrated here through Sanballat. It is the old man, Tobiah, who agrees with Satan and this is where doubt can reign within us, working to hinder and grieve the Holy Spirit.
“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.” Nehemiah 4:7-8
Satan is angered by our adherence to God’s Word and work and does what he can to draw us from it. Thus the return of our hurts and hang ups. But, we are called to fight. God is on our side, and He equips us to battle, and stand against the wiles of the devil. We are to continually surrender to Christ, denying ourselves, being renewed in our mind and transformed.
“And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14
Everyone on the wall was given a sword and a shield. When the trumpet would be sounded, they would heed the call and move to defend for their brothers and sisters on that wall. The Sword and the Shield are both representative of Christ and His work within us, through the study of the Word and the in dwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit and we are to be strengthened by it, by studying and applying the Word.
There was also, within the camp, grievances between brethren, which Nehemiah proclaimed to set aside and make right, that there would be none any longer. We, the church, are called to do the same. We are to be as one mind, with one singular doctrine, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Yet, many within the walls were still sworn unto Tobiah, because of what they saw in Tobiah, even so much as seeing his good deeds. We, too, can easily fall into the trap of desiring our old lives, being deceived by the originator of lies, becoming swayed to believe that things we have brought with us into this walk aren’t hurting anyone.
“Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them. For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.” Nehemiah 6:17-18
And given this sort of attention by us, our old man begins to believe and even assist Satan in cultivating a fear within us which can be stifling, almost paralyzingly to our walk. Given enough unbelief in God, we can actually turn back and move away from Him.
But, praise God that Jesus never gives up on us. In chapters seven through ten, once the wall was built, the Word of God was read and understood. This represents our walks once we are saved, the process of sanctification beginning in our lives, and shows us that we are sealed into an everlasting covenant with God.
“On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;” Nehemiah 13:1
And then… It is found, that as God’s Word is taught, Ammonites should not be found in the congregation of God forever. Tobiah was an Ammonite! Our old man has no place in the Body of Christ. This means that he is not a part of who we are in Christ. Jesus wishes to remove him from us, and the Holy Spirit searches us continually, seeking the darkest places in our hearts.
“And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:” Nehemiah 13:4
But, Eliashub, the priest, held fast to Tobiah! This is our inner desire to hang on to those worldly parts of us we love. When we do this, we make them our gods, and supplant Jesus from the throne of our hearts.
“And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.” Nehemiah 13:7
If Eliashib is representative of who we are in Christ, that of the office of priest, and Tobiah is our inner old man, then, at some point, we need to recognize this within ourselves and do what Christ asks, for when we do not surrender all, Jesus, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, begins to speak to us about giving whatever it is over to Him. The operation of the Holy Spirit is to continuously point to Christ and to enact change within us. When we stop allowing the change, we grieve the Spirit and the convictions strengthen as He moves solely to pointing to Christ.
And when we finally give it over to Christ…
“And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” Nehemiah 13:7-9
Eliashib did not fight against Nehemiah’s decree. Though he was wrong, Eliashib let Nehemiah clear out Tobiah from the chambers of the court. Eliashib surrendered his friend, his old man. Tobiah and all of his furnishings, meaning everything associated with him, was thrown out and the temple cleansed. The chamber was cleansed and rededicated with a sacrifice into service. This is what bringing in Jesus does for us. When we turn back to the God Who created us and surrender that thing we have held onto, Christ removes it, and applies the Cross, and everything He gave through it, to that part of our lives and heals it. Then, on to the next Tobiah, in the next hidden chamber.
“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6