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And so we come to the end of Nehemiah. Two weeks with this chap and Jerusalem, and we’ll soon be off to Persia with Esther. This final chapter brings to light one of the more difficult aspects of living life as follower of Christ, and is a good think to think amongst all the thinks of our thinker. Do the rules apply to everyone?

It’s surprising that even in churches there gets to be a group of “special” people, who are usually elected to the board, the missions committee, the hospitality group, and the blood donors. It’s not that cliques are evil per se, as we could call the disciples a clique, and the group of James/John/Peter an even more exclusive clique. The problem comes when certain persons take extra favor upon themselves. And especially when those persons are supposed to be the leaders.

HOTEL TEMPLE 8

Take the case of Eliashib in Nehemiah 13. He was apparently in charge of some aspect of the temple, and while Nehemiah was away on business, he allowed Tobiah to stay in a temple room along with his furniture and TV. This was the same Tobiah who had opposed the whole wall-building project from the beginning. Even worse, there are indications that Eliashib and Tobiah were related by marriage. Nepotism 101, my friends.

Eliashib should have been the one setting the example for everyone else. He should have been extra careful to dot all his I’s and cross all his T’s, but instead he took advantage of his position to give favors to his inlaws, who just happened to be major political players. What a shock that didn’t turn out well.

When Nehemiah got back, he gave Tobiah’s stuff the ole heave ho, and one would imagine he gave Eliashib a few pointers about exactly what the temple rooms should be used for in the future.

IN REMEMBRANCE OF…

This should be a good lesson for us as well. If we are in positions of leadership, we need to hold ourselves more accountable, not less. There are few actions that will turn people away faster than nepotism in the church. Especially self-serving nepotism. It’s like giving your brother-in-law the church Ferrari, and then borrowing the Ferrari for the pastor’s retreat. That’s a paddling offense no matter where you’re from.

Note that we have a counterpoint to this example: Nehemiah himself. Remember in chapter 5 he says that he did not avail himself of the usual benefits of his position as governor, and in fact gave more than was required ( it’s reasonable to take him at his word here, as his original readers could have checked out the facts for themselves). So what, you ask? Why wouldn’t one avail oneself of any and all perks of leadership?

Note also that there is not a book called “Elisahib” in the Bible today.
What do you want to be remembered for?

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