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Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Repairing the Breaches"

(Part  5)

“In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.”

                                                                                                            Nehemiah 13:15

The third gaping spiritual hole Nehemiah was forced to address was the desecration of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was a day set aside by God to be Holy unto Him. It was a day to gather and worship the Lord; a day to rest from the work of their hands and acknowledge the creator of the universe. It was a sign of God’s covenant relationship with His people.

However, the Israelites slowly began to allow their business interests and desires for the things of this world to ebb away at their obedience to God’s Word regarding the Sabbath. Nehemiah, once again, rebuked God’s people for their blatant disobedience:

I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing –desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”

                                                                                                            Nehemiah 13:17-18

Nehemiah went as far as to lock the doors of the city and posted guards at the gates to protect the sanctity of God’s Holy day.

 Unfortunately, this has become a similar breach in many of our churches today. God’s Sabbath day is being desecrated. It is a day that is Holy to God. Yet, many do not treat it that way. Holy means set apart. It is the day that we are to set apart to gather corporately (Lev. 23) and worship God. It is not a day for us to pursue our own interests and do as we please:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as your please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord.”

                                                                                                                        Isaiah 58:13-14

Observing the Sabbath benefits those who keep it both physically and spiritually, however, regardless of how much it may benefit us, the Sabbath certainly isn’t about us. It is about Him! It is holy to Him! Likewise, it should be holy to us.

The Sabbath, of all days, should not be the day we sacrifice in order to fulfill our own interests and desires; regardless of how noble we perceive our reasons to be. It should be held in highest honor as a sign of our covenant relationship with God. Like Nehemiah, we should work hard to protect it, because it is holy!


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Repairing the breaches"

(Part  4)

“I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and singers had gone back to their own fields. So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected? Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts. All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine, and oil into the storerooms.”

                                                                                                Nehemiah 13:10-12

The second gaping hole Nehemiah addressed upon his return to Jerusalem was the neglect of God’s house. During his absence the people became consumed with their own lives, families, and ambitions. They stopped tithing and stopped coming to the temple to worship. They neglected the house of God.

Because of this the Levites and singers became disheartened and could no longer provide for their families. They abandoned their positions and returned to their fields. I think, at times, we fail to see the significance we (individually and as a family) carry within the body of Christ.

It may not seem that one individual or family, who neglects their responsibilities towards God’s house, could have a very big impact on the corporate worship of a church, however, when that mentality begins to be shared by a growing majority; it isn’t long before the effectiveness, passion, and sustainability of that congregation is threatened.

Nehemiah recognized this and rebuked the officials for their lackadaisical attitudes. He called them together and stationed them at their posts. He restored full worship in the temple and the scripture tells us that “All Judah” brought in the tithes. They all participated. No one neglected their responsibilities. They gave, served, and ministered as a faithful body of believers.

This is a gaping hole still visible in many congregations today. Individuals and families have become consumed with their own lives, families, and ambitions. They have stopped tithing, stopped serving, and stopped attending services regularly; not realizing that their failure to fulfill their responsibility in the Body of Christ has threatened the effectiveness, passion, and sustainability of that local body of believers.

This means that fewer lost people are hearing about Christ, fewer missionaries are being sent to the far reaches of the earth, fewer people are seeing their marriages restored, burdens lifted, and families delivered from life controlling issues.

As born again believers, we are members of the body of Christ, which means our absence and neglect of God’s house leaves a gaping hole. Consider today what you personally need to do to repair that breach!


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Repairing the breaches”

(Part 3)

“But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God. I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. 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 13:6-9

Eliashib made room in the House of God for the profane. This is preciously how our spiritual integrity is undermined; when we allow room inside (that which is designed to be holy) for things that are profane and contrary to God’s Word and God’s Will.

Some may not see the significance or problem with Eliashib supplying Tobiah with one room in the Temple. Let’s face it, it was only one room! However, this one seeming isolated offense led Israel into a whole host of spiritual depravity.

Israel stopped bringing in their tithes and offerings; they desecrated the Sabbath, and once again began to intermarry with people God had specifically told them not to marry.

How did Nehemiah address this very evident “gap” in Israel’s spiritual integrity? The same way he addressed the gap in their physical integrity on his first trip. On his first visit, Nehemiah came to Jerusalem concerned about Israel’s physical well-being. He walked about the wall at night and investigated the gaps. Then he went about aggressively repairing the breaches. In 52 days the wall was rebuilt!

In the same way, Nehemiah, concerned for the spiritual well-being of the people of Israel returned. This time he examined the spiritual breaches and aggressively took action.

What is a breach? A breach is a hole or gap in fortifications that an enemy can manipulate to their advantage. Nehemiah identified four gaping holes in the spiritual lives of God’s people and began the work of bringing correction; beginning with ridding the temple of Tobiah and his belongings.

His first priority was to cleanse the temple from worldly desecration. He removed completely that which was defiling the temple, not just the man, but everything associated with him. However, Nehemiah did not stop there. He, then, purified the room and put back into the temple the things that belonged there.

This is an important principle for those of us who claim to be born again Christians. We, too, should not be making room for worldliness in our lives. We must rid ourselves of these things, and those things associated with it. We must purify our hearts through repentance and fill ourselves once again with the things of God!


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    


Thursday, October 10, 2013

“Repairing the breaches”

(Part 2)

 “ On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.” When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.”

                                                                                                Nehemiah 13:1-3

With the completion of the wall around Jerusalem, the Israelites began to make many reforms to the way they lived and worshiped. One such reform was the exclusion of any Ammonite or Moabite from entering the Temple. Because they had opposed the Israelites as they were coming out of Egypt, God told Moses that they were to be excluded from the blessings of God’s people.

However, once Nehemiah had returned to Babylon, one of the priests ignored this command and defiled the House of God:

Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.”

                                                                                    Nehemiah 13:4-5

Tobiah was an Ammonite! Commentators tell us that he married into Eliashib’s family; contrary to the Word of God. This is the same Tobiah, who joined Sanballat, in opposing the Israelites as they were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. To make matters worse, Eliashib took a large room in the Temple, that was supposed to be used to house the things of God, and converted it into living quarters for Tobiah!

Eliashib made room in the House of God for the profane. This is preciously how our spiritual integrity is undermined; when we allow room inside (that which is designed to be holy) for things that are profane and contrary to God’s Word and God’s Will.

Some may not see the significance or problem with Eliashib supplying Tobiah with one room in the Temple. Let’s face it, it was only one room! However, this one seeming isolated offense led Israel into a whole host of spiritual depravity!


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Repairing the breaches”

(Part 1)

 “ Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, “ declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy year.”

                                                                                                            Jeremiah 25:8-11

As God had predicted through the prophet Jeremiah, Israel was carried off by Babylon into exile for 70 years. Babylon destroyed the city of Jerusalem. They razed the temple and broke down the walls of the city.

However, after the 70 years, a remnant of Israel began to return! The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are dedicated to the fulfillment of this prophecy with the initial return of those exiled beginning under the reign of Cyrus the Mede.

In Ezra, we read about two phases of Israel’s return. One was under the leadership of a man named Zerubbabel, who was responsible for leading some 50,000 exiles back to Jerusalem. This group, finding the temple destroyed, restored the altar and eventually rebuilt the temple. The second group of exiles came under the leadership of a man named Ezra. Ezra was a scribe and expert in the Law of God. He came and led the people in a time of consecration and repentance.

The third group returned with a man named Nehemiah. He was the cup bearer of King Artaxerxes. He became very distraught over the condition of Jerusalem and received permission from the king to return and rebuild the city walls.

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and in a short amount of time did several amazing things. First, he rallied the Israelites to repair the breaches in the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Then he worked with the elders of the people to see that the city was repopulated. Finally, with Ezra’s help, he reinstituted proper temple worship and made provision for the priests.

After dedicating the wall, Nehemiah returned to Babylon, just as he had promised the king he would do. However, during his absence, Israel began to lose their spiritual integrity!


Pastor Scott Burr