In Nehemiah, we often hear about this fellow Tobiah, who was an Ammonite. The Ammonites were people who descended from the sin of Lot and his daughter. The other group were the Moabites (see Genesis 19:37-38). These groups were the ones responsible for denying the Israelites bread when in need (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The Moabites led Israel to worship Baal (Numbers 25:1-3). Both the Moabites and Ammonites were the ones who tried to get Balaam to curse God’s people (Numbers 22). There was a lot of trouble with these groups of people.
Tobiah is mentioned numerous times in the Book of Nehemiah. We read that Tobiah was mocking Nehemiah when the great work was discovered (2:19). Later in Nehemiah 4, we read that Tobiah was ridiculing the work done for the wall (v. 3). Tobiah was angry as the work on the wall continued (4:7). We read in Nehemiah 6, that he was sending letters to try and intimidate Nehemiah from finishing the work God called him to complete (v. 19). Even so, we read in Chapter 13, that Eliashib the high priest allowed Tobiah to reside in the Temple in a storeroom, due to intermarriage.
All of this is a long history of trouble between these groups; however, in Nehemiah 13, we read that the group infiltrated the Temple of God. The sin that occurred back with Lot and his daughters, has now invaded the Temple of God. It was not something that just happened. It reminds me that as we shut the door so the devil cannot sneak through, he so often sneaks through the cracks. Here we have Tobiah desecrating the Temple and no one seems to blink an eye until Nehemiah returns and sees what has happened.
Today, let us remind ourselves that sin can slowly creep in and we may not always see so clearly what is happening until we have a great desecration. Be reminded of the importance to be in God’s Word. Cling to the Truth. Don’t allow yourself to be closely aligned with those who are deeply involved in the things of the world, or you may find yourself becoming involved in the world, rather than working on the Kingdom God has for you. Remember, your body is a Temple. Don’t allow the Tobiahs to reside in your storeroom. Instead, allow the Spirit of God to be the ever-present force within you.
In Nehemiah 13, Nehemiah finds that the Israelites are still surrounding themselves with foreigners and involved with intermarriage. This was something that God spoke against many times in the Bible. Today, people seem to not grasp what this means, and take it as something of discrimination. The truth is, intermarriage, has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with Who you worship. When we look at the concept of intermarriage today, we look at it as a relationship between believers and non-believers.
The Bible tells us that if we are involved in a relationship with a non-believer (someone who does not believe in God as the One True God), then we the believer, may be led astray. The Bible warns us to therefore not become seriously involved with a non-believer so we do not tread on this unsteady ground. For us, this means we as Christians should not date or marry someone who is not a Christian. Even if we have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, if we marry or date someone who is not a Christian, we could be in danger of being derailed from our walk. As a Christian, we should not even desire to be seeking someone who is not seeking Jesus first.
I speak of this from a personal perspective. I have been there and have done that—and it was a road that was certainly off course, but thankfully God has used it for His glory. In my case, it wasn’t a matter of someone not professing Jesus, but someone not living for Jesus. We do not simply need to look for someone who has the lip confession, but the life confession. There’s a difference. In Nehemiah 13, we see that Nehemiah mentions Solomon to the people. King Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. He succumbed to being led astray by foreign relationships. Nehemiah basically asks the people why they think they could be wiser than him. Today, understand the importance of a good, godly relationship. If you are not yet married, remember that there is a proper way. God must be first in your life. Then when the time is proper, the one you seek should be seeking God first, even before you. That is the relationship that will be blessed and honored. May you find the one, who first seeks the One.
“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.” – Nehemiah 13:26 [ESV]