Don’t Miss the Main Messages in Bible Studies – The Nehemiah Story
By Carlton Foster – November 23, 2019
After reading In Nehemiah 10:28 to 37, I noticed that the main lesson from the story is about the covenant relationships between God and His people; they must agree that the places and methods of evangelizing the ungodly people should not cease due to distractions from intermarriages, neglect to the house of worship, or anything or circumstances that would prevent evangelistic activities by His people.
The lesson we must take away is that: we as God’s people should always be ready to “win souls for Christ.” So we must agree in our hearts to not be distracted from our assigned goals given to us by Jesus: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20)”.
Normally when we study the Bible, we must not miss the essence of the message, and we must not be caught up with the intricacies of the objects in the lesson. Such as the covenant structures in the Nehemiah story, unequal yoke, disobedient Israelite, or the objects that are being used in the lesson, but we must focus more on the main message in the story, and that is evangelism. Every Bible story has a message of evangelism, and too often we spend too much time focusing on the objects and missed the lesson for us today.
We are living in the “last days” of earth’s history; therefore, those who have taken the baptismal vows (covenant) must put evangelism as the main focus of our relationship with God. Too often we are caught up with making sure we are ready for the Judgment Day. So we spent most of our time selfishly taking care of ourselves, and neglecting the care of those who don’t know God. I have listened to too many sermons that make this their main focus. Many plans go into in-reach activities, trying to please the current membership of a congregation. These congregations are sensational and are motivated by emotions and feeling good. So if they are not feeling the right music or the entertaining sermons, they will move to another church.
Churches today spent most of their budget on attracting sensational worshipers, and little time is spent on teaching them how to think and practice soul-winning activities. Every Bible Study, every sermon is to point people to the Kingdom of God and that this place is for sinners, but they must repent and be baptized. Every discourse must motivate worshipers to evangelize. What does it prophet a person to selfishly seek such a heavenly place at the expense of neglecting other needy souls? We must take our queue from Jesus – He came and died for these sinners. There is no greater love than to sacrifice your time and effort to win others to the cause of Christ (John 15:13). We were chosen to spread the Gospel news mainly to the ungodly, but instead, we spend more effort on pleasing members with various worship styles which require huge monetary contributions for acquiring state-of-the-art equipment.
Here is an exercise: read Nehemiah 10:28-37, and see if you can identify the main point I am alluding to: ‘Then the rest of the people—the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the pagan people of the land in order to obey the Law of God, together with their wives, sons, daughters, and all who were old enough to understand – joined their leaders and bound themselves with an oath. They swore a curse on themselves if they failed to obey the Law of God as issued by his servant Moses. They solemnly promised to carefully follow all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our Lord: “We promise not to let our daughters marry the pagan people of the land, and not to let our sons marry their daughters. “We also promise that if the people of the land should bring any merchandise or grain to be sold on the Sabbath or on any other holy day, we will refuse to buy it. Every seventh year we will let our land rest, and we will cancel all debts owed to us. In addition, we promise to obey the command to pay the annual Temple tax of one-eighth of an ounce of silver for the care of the Temple of our God. This will provide for the Bread of the Presence; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, the new moon celebrations, and the annual festivals; for the holy offerings; and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel. It will provide for everything necessary for the work of the Temple of our God. We have cast sacred lots to determine when—at regular times each year—the families of the priests, Levites, and the common people should bring wood to God’s Temple to be burned on the altar of the Lord our God, as is written in the Law. We promise to bring the first part of every harvest to the Lord’s Temple year after year—whether it be a crop from the soil or from our fruit trees. We agree to give God our oldest sons and the firstborn of all our herds and flocks, as prescribed in the Law. We will present them to the priests who minister in the Temple of our God. We will store the produce in the storerooms of the Temple of our God. We will bring the best of our flour and other grain offerings, the best of our fruit, and the best of our new wine and olive oil. And we promise to bring to the Levites a tenth of everything our land produces, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our rural towns.”’
Distractions to Evangelism
If the people of Nehemiah time place more worldly emphasis on themselves and let the distractions engulfed them, then the spirit of evangelism would cease. Likewise, if we today do the same, not only with worldly activities but also with spending more time with in-reach, and on ourselves rather than on reaching souls for Christ, we will not be any different from the people who broke their baptismal covenant with God. The time to let the spirit of evangelism be the main thread that runs through our veins is now! Every Bible Study, every sermon must highlight this. Every one of God’s people must embrace this thought.