When Not To Run Away
A daily devotion for August 12th
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, "Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you."
11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!" 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.
Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go! (Nehemiah 6:11).
Once again the enemy switches his tactics, reverting again to subterfuge. A word comes in the form of a prophecy, but this man is a false prophet. He claims to have hidden knowledge that men are coming to kill Nehemiah and advises him to go into the temple to save his life. This false prophet may be involved in the occult, because that is what is suggested here by the explanation that he was
shut in at his home (Nehemiah 6:10). Being
shut in suggests that for some religious reason he was secluding himself.
What he says sounds logical.
Some people are out to get you. They are going to kill you, he charges. Nehemiah certainly knows that! The man suggests,
Come on up here, and we will go into the temple and shut the doors. They will not dare attack you there. That sounds good, but immediately Nehemiah detects something wrong. He knows that as a layman, he is not permitted to go into the temple, for only priests could enter the temple. It was simply not right for him to enter the temple.
He realizes that a prophet who was really from the Lord wouldn't say anything that was not in line with the commands of God. There was an altar of asylum in the temple courtyard to which people who were under threat could flee and be safe, but this man is proposing they actually go into the temple and shut the doors.
Nehemiah says it was all part of a plan to discourage the people from following his lead. Fueled by jealousy and ambition, these enemies slandered him and tried to trick him into yielding to their demands. We must be aware of this kind of attack on our lives in these days. Do not take people's advice just because they are friendly to you. It may be completely wrong advice. Nothing substitutes for a knowledge of the Word of God. That is how you can detect error and tell what is wrong. The best response to such an approach is what Nehemiah uses here--a deep sense of his true identity as a believer.
Should a man like me run and hide and try to save his life by wrong approaches and unlawful practices? He falls back upon his clear consciousness of who he is. He is a believer in the living God, and thus he need not resort to trickery to save his life.
This is exactly what the New Testament calls us to as well. Writing to the Thessalonians, faced with the normal pressures and problems of life, the apostle Paul's word is,
live lives worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12). We are called to walk with God. You are a child of His. You belong to Him. You are therefore living at a different level from those around you. If you remember who you are, you will not go along with the wrong things that people are being pressured into today.
Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden Pond,
If I seem not to keep step with others, it is because I am listening to another drumbeat. Christians also listen to another drumbeat. They are following their Lord, not the voices they hear around them. Nothing will free us more from the subtle pressures and temptations of today than to remember who we are.
There are so many voices, Lord. Help me to discern Your voice. Help me to act in accordance with Your Word and my true identity as Your child.
Life Application: How important is it to know or remember our true identity as a believer? Where can we find out who we are in Christ?
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