The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept. ‘We will not neglect the house of our God.’
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.
Nehemiah 10:39; 13:11 (NIV)
Read: Nehemiah 13
Consider: Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem after hearing about the sorry state of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. The walls were rebuilt in fifty-two days and after this Nehemiah set about reinstating temple worship. At the end of Nehemiah chapter 10 the people said ‘We will not neglect the house of our God’ and everything seemed set for the people to keep their focus on God. However, after a few years Nehemiah was back in Babylon and his reforms started to unravel. When he returned to Jerusalem he accused the officials: ‘Why is the house of God neglected?’
The Hebrew word used in both instances for ‘neglect’, carries with it the possible meaning of ‘forsake’, ‘leave’, ‘abandon’ and ‘turn your back on’. While the physical building was indeed neglected, what happened in Jerusalem and Judah was more symptomatic of the spiritual condition of the people. It wasn’t just the common people who had turned away from God, as the problem involved everyone from the highest to the lowest.
On reading Nehemiah 13 you might think that it doesn’t really apply to us today. However, think again! For Christians, neglecting the house of God might involve being unwilling to give God a fair proportion of our time or income for the spread of the gospel. For some it might mean that they neglect to take God’s Word seriously and prefer to accept the standards of society, in preference to God’s standards as laid down in scripture. For others it might mean that they allow themselves to drift away from attending church on a regular basis. Whatever the manifestation of this neglect it ultimately points to our spiritual condition before God.
In Hebrews, Paul writes to his readers in the following way:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Do you understand how your church attendance can be an encouragement to others and how we can each ‘… spur one another on towards love and good deeds’.
Pray: Father, forgive us when we neglect the House of God. Help us to be an encouragement to others and may we spur each other on towards love and good deeds. Amen