Nehemiah 13:15-31; 1 Corinthians 11:13-16; Psalms 35:19-28; Proverbs 12:12-14
OT: “At that time I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in stores of grain and loading them on donkeys, along with wine, grapes, and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them against selling food on that day. The Tyrians living there were importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah in Jerusalem. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil you are doing — profaning the Sabbath day? Didn’t your ancestors do the same, so that our God brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling his anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!” When shadows began to fall on the city gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the city gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day… Then I instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the city gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my God, and look on me with compassion according to the abundance of your faithful love.” (Nehemiah 13:15-19, 22 CSB)
During Nehemiah’s time away, not only did the religious leaders allow the temple to become defiled, but the people forsook the Sabbath and also returned to their practice of marrying pagan wives. Nehemiah couldn’t let that continue unchallenged. He was zealous for the Lord’s word, will and ways, and was thus zealous for the sanctity and holiness of the Lord’s people. Nehemiah warned the people and explained why their actions needed to stop – but he didn’t just use his words. Nehemiah’s zeal led him to action. He took practical steps to put an end to sinful practices and reform the people’s way of life.
True reformation requires more than just words – it requires action. Genuine repentance from sin and unrighteousness requires more than just feeling sorry – it requires a change in behavior. It can be easy for us to hear a moving sermon and feel convicted, or watch a stirring documentary and become angry at injustice and think that we have repented or reformed our lives. But it isn’t until action occurs, born out of our zealous love for the Lord and His word, will and ways, that true repentance and reform has occurred. Wanting to walk righteously and actually walking righteously are two different things. In order to move from mental ascent and desire to action, we must obey by grace through faith, born out of a zealous desire to honor the Lord. For us to remain in the world but not of it – for us to be the Church, the called-out people of God – for us to truly be the expression of the gospel and the glory of God, we need to be zealous for the Lord and all that He desires to do in us and through us – to the point of action.
Prayer: Lord, help me to not fall prey to the deception that just because I know what Your word says and agree with what your Word says, that I am actually living according to Your word, will and ways. Just as Jesus was zealous for Your house, I want to be zealous for Your house – Your house that is my body and Your house that is the Church. Help me to not just hear and agree, but apply and do Your word by grace through faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.