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Throw Tobiah out of the Temple!

Rev. Enoch Thompson | January 14, 2024 | Nehemiah 13:6-9



⁸ I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah's household goods out of the room. ⁹ I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense. Nehemiah 13:8-9 (NIV)



In yesterday’s reflection, we were surprised at how the privilege of the priesthood of Eliashib could be misappropriated to allow Tobiah a place in the Temple of the Lord. Today we want to focus on what’s to be done when Tobiah is in the Temple; we must throw Tobiah out with both hands! And that is what the godly leader Nehemiah did.


The records show that all that Eliashib had wrongly done, as well as other issues we will be considering later, had taken place while Nehemiah was away on duty tour to see King Artaxerxes. It is important to build a reputation that certain misdoings cannot take place in your presence. Eliashib would have thought ten times over and told himself “No” if Nehemiah had been present at the time, he was considering giving accommodation to Tobiah in the Temple.


But when the evil had been done and the facts come before Nehemiah, he does not hesitate to take action to correct the situation. First, he felt what a godly soul should feel in the face of sin, displeasure and holy anger. If we do not get angry with situations parallel to the Elisahib-Tobiah complicity, then there is something wrong with ourselves.


In the second place Nehemiah took drastic action to dislodge Tobiah from his unrightful place: he “threw all Tobiah's household goods out of the room.” Nehemiah 13:8 (NIV). Not a spoon of Tobiah’s should be left in the sacred precincts. Next Nehemiah called for the purification of the “rooms.” Yes, rooms; Tobiah occupied one room but the contagion and contamination of his presence in the Temple must affect the other rooms. Our dealings with sin must be surgical and not cosmetic.  Nehemiah finally filled the rooms with what they were originally intended to be filled with, “the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense.” Nehemiah 13:9 (NIV).



When we deal with sin in our lives and God’s Church, may we go all the way, and not play softball.


Dear Lord, please give me the courage to deal with sin thoroughly, and to seek to see the glory that you expect in my life and your Church. For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.





In Nehemiah 13:8-9, the term "displeased" is used to describe Nehemiah's reaction to a situation involving Eliashib and the misuse of the temple chambers. The Hebrew term used for "displeased" is "רַע" (ra), which encompasses meanings like "evil," "bad," or "displeasing." It conveys a sense of moral or ethical wrong.

Nehemiah expresses displeasure upon discovering that Eliashib, the high priest, had allowed Tobiah, an adversary of Nehemiah, to use one of the temple chambers. This misuse of sacred space was a significant transgression.

The term "רַע" is often employed in the Bible to describe actions that are morally wrong or displeasing to God. It is used to depict both human transgressions and divine judgments (Genesis 6:5, Exodus 32:14).

Nehemiah's reaction reveals his zeal for the sanctity of the temple and the purity of worship. The misuse of the temple, a holy place dedicated to God, deeply troubled Nehemiah, reflecting his commitment to uphold God's standards. How does Nehemiah's displeasure at the misuse of the temple prompt us to evaluate our reactions to situations where sacred values are compromised? Consider the importance of maintaining a zeal for holiness in our worship spaces and personal lives.


In light of Nehemiah's displeasure over the misuse of the temple, reflect on situations where sacred values are compromised in your life or community. How can Nehemiah's zeal for holiness inspire us to uphold sacred spaces and values in our contemporary context?

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