God’s people begin to take for granted all that God had done for them and slide back into their sinful patterns of life. Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem (which he had left in the hands of now obviously not-so-capable leaders) to put the people back in their place. In light of Nehemiah’s experience, Pastor Mark explores threats to godly living and ministry in addition to righteous responses when faced with godless living.
13:1 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, 2 for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.
4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, 5 prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. 6 While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king 7 and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. 8 And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. 9 Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.
10 I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. 11 So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.
You’re listening to Nehemiah: Building a City within the City, a teaching series by Pastor Mark Driscoll. The following is a presentation of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. For more audio and video content, visit marshillchurch.org.
The hope of Mars Hill since the beginning is that Seattle is a great city, and what it needs is a great city within that city, a city that loves Jesus, a city that believes scripture, a city that lives for the good of the whole city, not just its own self-interest. And so Mars Hill started off as an experiment to see if we could build a city within the city that would love the city and seek the transformation of the city as the city meets Jesus.
Well, good evening, Mars Hill. Good to see ya. Back to work. Vacations are done. Writing’s done. Time to yell at ya. We’re gonna be in Nehemiah Chapter 13. If you’ve got a Bible, you can go there. It’s the conclusion of a long study in one of the great books of the Old Testament. It’ll take us three weeks to actually finish this book. And then beginning in October in conjunction with our 11th Anniversary, we’re gonna begin the great book of Philippians in the New Testament, if you want to start reading ahead. So I’m gonna go ahead and pray, and we’re gonna get right to work. Nehemiah tonight loses his mind, just gets absolutely furious. And next week he starts beating up members of his church, and the following week he scalps somebody. So, I mean (Laughter), this is just so much better than “Hey, be happy all for Jesus.” I mean, this is great stuff right here. This is – I mean, this is ultimate fighting in the Old Testament. So this is great.
So I’m gonna pray, and hopefully prayerfully my vocal cords hang in there. I’ve been yelling at people all day. And if you’ve got a Bible, you can go to Nehemiah Chapter 13. We’ll be in Verses 1 through 14. Father, we begin, as always, by thanking you for being a great, loving, merciful, patient God. Also being a holy, righteous, just God. God, tonight we celebrate your anger. That when you look at our lives and our world, you’re not okay with that. You’re compelled to respond. And, God, we thank you that there is hope. That there is hope for us and that there is hope for this world. And so, God, as we study today, we’re asking that the person and work of Jesus be at the center of our instruction. And we ask you, Holy Spirit, to come and illuminate the scriptures, which you have inspired to be written. And so, God, it is our prayer that we would share in your heart tonight as we open your word, examining the work of your son by the power of your spirit. And we ask this in your good name. Amen.
I’ll tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll catch you up to speed. Book of Nehemiah. Great book. Here’s the story: A city called Jerusalem, very important, strategic city. It’s the city that God had appointed to be the center for world worship and Evangelization and missions. It was the city that God had appointed that when the time had come to pass, Jesus himself would arrive in that city. And that city had been attacked, it had been destroyed. The wall encircling the city had been broken. The gates had been burned. As a result, God’s people had fled, the worship of God had ceased, respect for God was diminished, and things lay in this absolutely devastated state for 141 years.
And then in a town quite a bit a ways away a man named Nehemiah was called of God to move from his home town of Susa to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the walls, resetting the gates, rebuilding the city, rebuilding the church so that God could be worshipped, the Bible could be taught, lives could be changed and preparation could be made for the coming of Jesus. He obeyed God, moved there. Immediately he was met by just two absolute wing nuts, Sanballat and Tobiah. They hate him, despise him, pickets, protests, blogs, lawsuits, death threats, the usual. He continues forward nonetheless, even though his life is in danger. He does so without getting a salary. He’s a selfless man with pure motives. And in 52 short miraculous days the people gave a lot of effort and money, the walls are rebuilt, the gates are rehung, and all of a sudden there was hope for the city of Jerusalem again.
Fifty thousand people move into this city. They have a mass citywide prayer meeting and rally and Bible study. People become Christians. Ezra, who’s the Billy Graham of the Old Testament, stands up and teaches the Bible. And then the people respond by making a series of solemn pledges and covenant vows to God saying, “We’ll read our Bible, we’ll love our spouse, we’ll raise our kids to love the Lord. We’re gonna give of our tithes and offerings, and we’re gonna be the people that God has called for us and enabled us to be.” And everything looks amazing. It’s gone from one of the most destroyed, horrific stories in the world to one of the most glorious revivals and renewals that any city, church or people has ever seen. And were the Bible written by the same (Laughter) people who give us the stupid fairytales that we grew up on, it would have said at the end of Chapter 12 “And they lived happily ever after…” But because God’s not a liar and the Bible’s the truest book ever written, it doesn’t end there. It shows in Chapter 13 that everything that was great was in the process of being destroyed.
And how many of you have been totally set up by stupid stories where it goes good, and then it just says, “They lived happily ever after”? How many of you read those fairytales, for example, got married, and you thought “And we got married and lived happily ever after (Laughter) …”? You realize it’s not like that (Laughter). We have turnbuckles in our living room, and I’m hoping that one of us doesn’t kill the other. That’s reality. That you don’t see something good happen and then it sustains itself forever. You got to keep working at it, working on it, working for it because everything is always in the process of being overtaken by sin and folly and stupidity and rebellion. And so the way we tell stories is beginning, middle, end. The way the Bible tells a story, at least in the Old Testament, is beginning, middle, beginning. It starts bad, God gets involved, goes good, then we get lazy and stupid, it goes bad, and we got to go back to where we started.
And so Chapter 13 goes from the heights of amazing obedience in Chapter 12 to the depths of absolute rebellion in Chapter 13. So I’ll set it up for you this way: Nehemiah had worked in Jerusalem for 12 years. Right? It took 52 days to physically rebuild the infrastructure. Then he worked for 12 years to get the church planted, worship in place, money raised, pastors, leaders in place. And he felt, rightly or wrongly, things are going pretty good. He, at this point, was probably in his 50s or 60s. He was an older guy for that day. And he decided it was kind of time to retire. So he handed off all his responsibilities, and he moved back to Susa, his hometown, playing shuffleboard, Texas Hold ‘Em, taking a nap, getting a massage. He’s sort of retired (Laughter). And he’s there for anywhere from one to seven years, depending upon which commentator you believe. And he hears that everything has fallen apart back in Jerusalem. Everything he had worked for was being undermined. All the vows that were made were being broken. All the people he’d entrusted to lead were not leading. And so now he’s an old man who’s got a decision to make. “Do I come out of retirement? Do I find my cup? Do I go back to Jerusalem? Do I go through this all again? Do I throw my hands up in defeat or do I throw my hands up for battle?”
And in every fight the last round is the most important round, and for Nehemiah this is the last round. And what he decides is “I’ve given almost upwards of 20 years of my life to that city, and I’m not going to give up now.” And so hands up, chin down, back to Jerusalem he goes, ready to fight, contend with and have conflict with everyone who’s opposing what God is trying to do. So we pick up the story in Chapter 13. Here’s Nehemiah, old man maybe with a cane (Laughter), in a really frustrating position, coming back to the place where everyone he had entrusted power and authority and spiritual responsibility to has to varying degrees failed. Everything they had worked so hard for was being destroyed. And you’re gonna read the story with me beginning in 13:1.
“On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people.” Okay? So they open the Bible, and it’s Bible time for God’s people. And they reach this part of the Bible. “And it was found written that no Ammonite” – this dude Tobiah who you’re gonna meet in a little bit, he’s an Ammonite – “or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Baalam” – it’s a false prophet – “against them to curse them. Yet our God turned their curse into a blessing. As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.” Here’s what’s happening: The leadership in the Old Testament Church has absolutely disobeyed God. They have appointed people that are Ammonites and Moabites to help be in spiritual leadership. And you may first-glance read that and say, “Well, isn’t that racial discrimination?” No. It’s not racial. It’s religious. These are people who are in other religions. It’s spoken of here that God gave them a hand to repent and join him and worship him, and they said, “No. We don’t want to. We want our own prophets, our own Bible, our own God, our own religion, our own way of doing things. We don’t care about the real God.”
And what has happened is that now people from different religions were helping to lead God’s people spiritually. It’d be no different than if you showed up tonight and I let a – you know, a Muslim cleric teach or some ascending master in Buddhism or Hinduism or a couple, you know, guys in nice clean, pressed white shirts who were driving by on their bikes doing their crazy, goofy Mormon mission, hoping to be Gods and get their own planet and knock up their wife and make a lot of babies, and we decided “Oh, what the heck. Come on in, kids. You get to preach too (Laughter). We’re open, tolerant, and diverse. We all went to college. This is Seattle.” You know, that’s a problem (Laughter). It’s a problem.
Verse 4. This is just me reading the Bible. Wait till I get to the sermon (Laughter). “Now, before this Eliashib the priest” – Eliashib’s supposed to oversee things spiritually. He’s supposed to be the pastor. He’s supposed to keep an eye on things. He was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and he was related to Tobiah. Tobiah’s a guy who has tried to murder Nehemiah, hates Nehemiah, hates God, hates his people, hates the Bible, hates everything they’re about, everything they do. Eliashib the priest, the pastor decides “Oh, he’s a pretty nice guy, got a job. I’ll let him marry my daughter or, you know niece or whatever it is.” He lets this total wing nut marry into his family. And you’re like “Oh, yeah, Pastor Mark’s daughter married a Bin Laden. What’s going on there?” Ugh. Bad idea (Laughter). Bad idea. But now he’s part of the family. Ugh. I mean, just the whole thing frustrates me.
So Verse 5. “He prepared for Tobiah a large chamber”, an apartment, “where they had previously put the grain offering, frankincense, the vessels, the tithes of grain and oil, which are given by the commandment to the Levites, singers, gatekeepers and priests and the contributions for the priests.” Where does he take, you know, Tobiah Bin Laden, where does he move him into? The temple. He hates God, and he lives in God’s house. So you say, “Well, what’s the problem with that?” How many of you want your moral – I mean, this is like Batman goes on vacation, comes back, and the Joker is shacked up, you know, in the bat cave because the butler let ‘em in (Laughter). That’s just wrong (Laughter). You’re married, you come home, you’re wife’s like “Hey, he’s moving in with us. He’s having a hard time.” “Hey, that’s your ex-boyfriend (Laughter).” Somebody’s gonna die. Verse 6. Here’s – I love Nehemiah (Laughter). It’s so awesome.
“While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem.” What’s he’s saying is, “It’s not my fault. I wasn’t there. They did this when I wasn’t looking.” “For in the 32nd year of Artaxeres, King of Babylon, I went to the king, and after some time I asked leave of the king, I said, ‘King, I got to go back to Jerusalem’ and I came to Jerusalem, and I discovered the – ” what’s the word? Evil. Evil. Some of you say, “But we believe in pluralism, post-modernism, perspectivalism.” Evil. It’s not just another religious ideology, perspective or action. It’s evil. It was an evil thing. He goes on. “That Eliashib had done for Tobiah, that the religious guy who’s supposed to protect God’s people he left the wolf in with the sheep.” Tobiah’s living in the middle of the temple. That means he’s a spiritual leader, he’s in on all the meetings. This would be no different than if I took people who hated God, worshipped other gods, promoted false religions, and gave them my office so that they could have an apartment. Insane.
“Preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of our God. And here’s the bell we’re gonna ring all night”, Verse 8. “And I was very angry (Laughter)” I love that. It’s awesome. You say, “What’s angry mean in Hebrew?” Angry. He’s very angry. He was angry in Chapter 5 too where the rich were exploiting the poor. He says, “I was very angry about that.” Here’s a dude, gets angry. “I was very angry.” We’re gonna talk about this a lot (Laughter). “And I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.” It’s like if you go to the temple to worship, you’re like, “Lord, I’m here.” And all of a sudden you’re like “What’s all that stuff flying out of the temple (Laughter)? There goes a flat screen TV and a computer and a – you know, a chair and a couch and a copy of the Koran. There’s just stuff flying out of the temple (Laughter). “Then I gave orders.” Not suggestions or recommendations. Orders. “And they cleansed the chamber, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of our God with a grain offering and the frankincense.”
It goes on. “I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers who did the work had fled to his field.” The people stopped giving because who wants to give to a church that’s totally jacked up and not Biblical? So they had to fire the good pastors and deacons, and they were out in the field back to their old job, so everything has gone totally haywire. “So I confronted the officials (Laughter). I got in their face.” I love this. “I gave orders, I was angry, and I confronted people.” We’re gonna talk about – some of you are like “Is that – that’s not a very Christian thing to do.” Yes, it is. We have a verse (Laughter).“So I confronted the officials and said, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken?”– What are you doing? – “And I gathered them together and I set them in their stations.” – You, you, you go do your job. – “Then all of Judah brought the tithe, the grain, wine, and all the storehouses.” All the people are like “Nehemiah’s ticked. He’s upset. You better catch up on your tithes. I mean, he – I’m telling ya, he’s chucking stuff.” “And I appointed his treasurers”, right, now there’s new leaders, “over the storehouses. Shelamiah, the priest, Zadock the scribe, Padaiah, the Levites, and as their assistants, Hanan, the son of Zechariah, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable.”
Not everybody who’s a spiritual leader is reliable. Some people are totally worthless. And some people are reliable. What he says is “You guys have blown all credibility with me. You have jacked up everything. ‘You’re fired, you’re fired, you’re fired. You’re reliable, you’re reliable, you’re reliable. You’re now leaders.’” – “And their duty was to distribute to their brothers.” Okay. And Chapter 13 is three snapshots, which each conclude with a prayer. This is the first section, concludes with a prayer, Verse 14, “Remember me, oh, my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds.” Some you say, “Oop. That doesn’t look like good deeds. He’s all upset, and he’s yelling at me. You were yelling at me, and that’s not nice.” Good deeds. “I love ya. That’s why I yell at ya.” Amen (Laughter). For both of you that agree, thank you. “My good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.”
Here’s what happens: People have sinful actions, and it’s all the way at the top with Eliashib. And it’s down to the husbands and fathers. You’re gonna see in the coming weeks supposedly Christian guys are marrying non-Christian women. And then they’re raising kids, and they won’t pray with ‘em or read the Bible to ‘em, and they don’t know God. And these stop going to church, so they stop tithing and giving. And their families are a wreck, and their marriages are a wreck. And the church is a mess. And the children are a mess. And Nehemiah says, “This is unbelievable. These are the sinful actions of the people.” It starts with Eliashib and his relationship with Tobiah. It comes down to the fathers and the husbands and the women and the children, and everything is absolutely coming undone. And so there’s the sinful actions of people, and then there’s the holy reactions of Nehemiah.
And the way it works is this: There’s this process that has been undertaken in Jerusalem that we are continually (Laughter) under pressure to fall into the same pattern of sin. And it is threefold, and it begins this way: Tolerance overtakes truthfulness. Tolerance overtakes truth. The truth is Tobiah is not supposed to be a spiritual leader. He’s not qualified. He doesn’t fit the qualifications of the Bible. And Eliashib says, “I don’t know. He’s a nice guy. He tithes a lot, and, you know, I mean, he means well. And I don’t like conflict, so ‘Here, life in the temple.’” This is what happens. Tolerance overtakes truthfulness. “Well, I know that’s what the Bible says, but, you know, we disagree.” In our city the great value is tolerance. But this is the most freakin’ intolerant city I’ve ever seen. I double-dog dare ya not to recycle and smoke in a restaurant. I dare ya (Laughter). You’re like “It’s my alternative lifestyle.” They’re like “You can walk around naked on a unicycle with a monkey, but you put that cigarette out (Laughter) (Applause).”
I mean, everybody’s got their rules. Tolerant. Nonsense. You know, I – we had our baptisms Friday. I’ll give you examples. This is like therapy for me. It’s cheaper than meds. So I’ll just do this for a while (Laughter). Now, we – on Friday we had our mass baptism down at Alki where the city was founded, right? Three thousand people showed up. Over 200 people got baptized. And it was great (Applause). It was super cool. So beforehand I thought “I’m gonna go on the Internet and read the blogs and see what people area saying about the event we’re going to have” ‘cause I’m always looking for more wisdom, insight, and to up my IQ. And where better to go than a blog (Laughter)? So I went, and I’m reading the blogs. And here’s one of the blogs. And people are “I don’t like Mars Hill because they don’t have any gay pastors or any women pastors, and unless you believe in Jesus and the Bible, you’re not even allowed to teach (Laughter).” Aaah. Duh. Duh. We’re Christians.
And if you go to the vegan place and say, “Where’s my steak?”, they’ll say, “Wrong place, you know (Laughter) (Applause). Wrong place.” I mean, I hate to point out the obvious. “Well, they’re not very tolerant.” I – hey, if you’re a dude, apply to the National Organization for Women. See how tolerant they are, you know (Laughter). This is nuts. “Well, I find that very offensive.” Look. Our God is a little offensive. I just hate to break it to ya. Most of the people who really liked him got killed. I’m not saying (Laughter) – right? I’m not saying we’re just mean, rude, bully, thug jerks and we’re always looking for a fight, but I am saying that what we believe is a little offensive, and you got to be okay with that. Otherwise, you’ll want to say, “You know what? We need to tolerate all perspectives.” And there is a point in which we do tolerate. We believe in freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of stupidity. We believe in all of that (Laughter). You’re free to be wrong. You’re totally free to be wrong. You’re free to go to hell. You’re free. That’s cool. We’re fine with that (Laughter). But that’s our city.
There’s a difference between our city and our church. In our church we draw a line, and there’s a demarcation between the church and the culture. And in the church we say, “We believe in Jesus, we believe in the Bible, we believe in obedience, and we believe that everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe, but if they come here, we’re gonna tell ‘em that they’re wrong because they’re wrong. That’s why (Laughter). Now, some of you say, “That’s gonna hurt somebody’s feelings.” And let me tell you this (Laughter): There are certain dudes like Tobiah, they’re pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing. They say, “I want you to embrace all religions, all perspectives, all the ideologies. You need to tolerate all.” I get these invitations to these pastors’ prayer meetings (Laughter), man, I’m telling you, “Oh, it’ll be very nice. There’ll be a Buddhist, and there’ll be a Hindu, and there’ll be a Muslin, there’ll be a ___, there’ll be an Atheist, there’ll be a Jewish guy, and then you can be the Christian guy. And we could all pray to God together.” No, we can’t. I pray to Jesus, they pray to Satan. This is not a conference call. We’re all dialing different numbers (Laughter) (Applause). No.
And there are certain peoples pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing. And they’re gonna want you not to offend them, but you’re left on the horns of a terrible dilemma. Do you offend them or God? The question is not “Will you offend?” The question is always “Who ya gonna offend?” I got a buddy like that. He keeps asking me “What should I do for my marriage?” “Jesus. You need Jesus. And your wife (Laughter). Both of ya.” You know, “My kids are crazy. What do I do?” “Your kids need Jesus.” He keeps asking me questions. Every answer I tell him “Jesus.” That’s what I tell him. And here’s what he says, “I’m sick of hearing about Jesus.” “Then don’t ask (Laughter).” He said, “Every time you talk about Jesus, you offend me.” I said, “Yeah, but if I give you an answer other than Jesus, I’ll offend Jesus. So if you’re gonna come down to I offend you or Jesus, you’re gonna get it every time (Laughter).” That’s just how it is. “I thought you loved me.” “I do love ya. Hell is hot. Forever’s a long time. I’m trying to help (Laughter).”
You know, and what happens here is Eliashib he’s a really sweet guy. I mean, I see him in a lemon yellow sweater vest, drinking decaf, driving a Cabriolet just like (Laughter) – you know, he’s just a really sweet guy, but his mercy’s too much. His mercy is at the point where he just totally gives up the truth, which leads to the second point: Then the feelings of people overtake the feelings of God. When you lose sight of the truth and you lose sight of God, you will allow error, sin, falsity and heresy in the name of being nice, which is not nice to God, and ultimately it’s not nice to people because you’re lying. And that’s what happens here. How in the world did Tobiah marry into a Christian family? If you’re here and you’re a daddy and God gives you a girl, and maybe some of you aren’t married yet and you’re gonna be a daddy – I got two girls. Man, I love ‘em.
We have this talk every 15 minutes (Laughter). “Jesus loves you, I love. No one marries you, touches you, speaks to you, looks at you, text messages you, emails you or gets to be in the same zip code as you unless they love Jesus and I love ‘em too.” That’s it (Laughter) (Applause). Otherwise, my daughter’s gonna get hooked up with some wing nut whack job, and then he’s gonna be at my house for Thanksgiving, and I’m gonna have a fork in one hand and a knife in the other, and something really bad’s gonna happen (Laughter). And he’s gonna be raising my grandkids not to like Jesus. It can’t happen. Somehow this nice, sweet Eliashib, this guy did not hold the line, and Tobiah marries in, and tolerance overtakes truth, and people overtake God, which the end result of – I’ll give ya another example since we’re here (Laughter). I was gonna move on. I’ll give you an example how this still happens. It’s happening now. I can’t believe this.
I’m driving along in my Jeep minding my own business, and I turn to Christian radio for the first time in a long time, last time for a long time (Laughter). And there’s an ad by churches in our area, least churched area in the country, more dogs than Christians, saying that “We’re having a conference, a series of conferences on the Old Testament, and you all Christians you can come and learn the Bible that Jesus read. You could learn the Old Testament.” I thought “Good. I vote yes.” “And our teacher will be Rabbi so and so (Laughter).” And I start having my own personal earthquake in my Jeep (Laughter). I mean, I’m squeezing so hard on the steering wheel, I’m waiting for the airbag to deploy (Laughter). This isn’t a Messianic Jewish rabbi who digs Jesus. This is just a rabbi who thinks Jesus it not God and is still dead in a hole somewhere in the Middle East going to teach God’s people the secret of the Bible. The secret of the Bible is Jesus, you know.
And that’s what freaks me out. It’s so – and so here’s what happens: Jesus comes. He fights with the religious types in John 5. And he says, “You guys study the Bible all day, and you have no idea what it means because you don’t love me. I don’t care if you know what the temple is and what the lamp stand is. You know, if you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know jack about the Bible. That’s what I’m telling ya.” And it might be really cute to bring in a rabbi and he’s like “Here in the Hebrew arc means – “Who’s your Messiah?” “Well, it’s not Jesus. He’s still dead.” “Then you’re on the other team. And we love ya, and God bless ya, and you can come, but you can’t teach. You can’t teach God’s people that the secret of the Bible is not Jesus.”
End of Luke’s Gospel Jesus rises from death. Takes ‘em through the Old Testament saying, “This is all about me.” Guy gets up, “Here, let me tell ya about the Old Testament.” “What do you think about Jesus?” “I don’t think about Jesus.” Teaching the Christians. Then it gets worse. This month Christianity Today did a feature on me. It wasn’t too bad. I’ve seen far worse (Laughter). And I was wondering if it was online so I could send it my mom. I always read stuff before I send it to my mom ‘cause she gets depressed (Laughter). And I click onto christianitytoday.com. Now, I’m thinking we’re clicking onto christianitytoday.com (Laughter), and at the top, the banner ad, the top of christianitytoday.com – the marketing for my new books just went out the window – But at the top of chrstianitytoday.com there was an ad for the rabbi, not a Christian, sitting there rabbiesque (Laughter) saying, “If you Christians would like the Old Testament, buy all my products ‘cause I’ll tell you what the Bible’s all about.”
If I might state the obvious, Christianity is about Christ. I don’t mean to stretch it (Laughter). You know what I’m saying? And here’s what the ad said: “Everyone needs a rabbi.” I’m in my living room. Here’s what I do” “Aaaahhhh (Laughter).” I flip. My kids run in (Laughter). “Dad what’s happening?” “There’s a rabbi on christianity.com. My son who’s seven at the time, just turned eight, “Well, he doesn’t believe in Jesus, does he?” “No. You’re seven. You should run the website (Laughter) (Applause).” If you have – and I know some of you are geeks, I know. If you can take it down, do (Laughter) (Applause). All right? And if it goes down, I’ll go on CNN and say, “We did it for Jesus, you know (Laughter).” And the whole thing “Everybody needs a rabbi”, I’m like “We have one.” His name is?
Jesus. I don’t need this guy (Laughter). It just freaks me out. Are you with me here? I mean, I (Applause) – the result then, when tolerance overtakes truthfulness and the feelings of people overtake the feelings of God. Passion diminishes in the passivity, and people just don’t care. “Oh, there’s no hell, every religion’s right, nobody’s a bad person. Well, I’ll be at the strip club (Laughter).” It changes how you live. It just does. It just does. If you believe that the Bible is true and that Jesus is God and that hell is real, you live differently. And if all of it’s just opinion, perspective, ideology and marketing, why be passionate about anything. There’s still one guy who’s passionate. It’s Nehemiah. These are the sinful actions of people. Now we’re look at the righteous reactions of Nehemiah.
First thing this guy has is God’s heart. It says, 13:8, I was “very angry”. How many of you are going, “That’s not a Christian emotion. We are sweetie pies. That’s what we are (Laughter)”? I’ve watched a lot of Christian television, and all those guys in mullets with big-haired wives that look like they’ve lost paintball gun wars they all say (Laughter) – oh, come on. You knew it was gonna happen. That’s why you came (Laughter). That’s why you brought a friend. They all said, “Find the bright side. Have a positive image. Choose joy.” They even have verses out of context, but “Rejoice in the Lord always. Just smile, and think happy Jesus thoughts down deep in your soul.” They always got a southern accent (Laughter). I just want to grab those guys by their mullet and punch ‘em in the throat and read lamentations to ‘em, you know (Laughter), because it’s stupid. “I got raped.” “Well, look at the bright side.” There isn’t one.
You know, it’s just stupid. And it works on TV, but it doesn’t work in life. And some of you have been told “There’s good emotions and bad emotions, and anger’s a bad emotion.” You know what? God gets angry. Nehemiah’s already been angry once in Chapter 5 at the rich for ripping off the poor. God gets angry too. Do you know that our God has emotions? He’s passionate, he’s alive. And our God gets angry. He does. We’re made in his image and likeness. That’s why we get angry. Exodus 34: “God tells us who he is, the Lord, the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and love and patience and kindness, compassion.” Here’s what God says: “My default mode is love, patience, grace, mercy, kindness.” That’s why we’re still breathing, right (Laughter)? God’s got a long wick, but eventually you can make him really angry.
You read the Old Testament. Flooding the earth, road tar flying out of heaven, people turning into pillars of salt. Those are clues along the way (Laughter). God – now you got to put – you got to keep sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend, keep ripping off your boss, you know, keep dishonoring God with your lifestyle, ripping other people off. You got to push it. I mean, you got to really push it. God is a great God, and his anger is at the end of the tether, and when you burn the whole wick, then he blows. So what we learn is we should have a long wick. Right? God’s not like some high school boy walking around with his chest out just looking to throw all the time. He’s not like that (Laughter). But he is a God that rightly gets angry. Now, some of you say, “But I thought God was love.” God is love, but more often than love the attribute of God, which is most frequently mentioned in scripture is God is holy. God is holy and righteous and good and pure. And because he is, when he sees sin, evil and injustice, he feels angry about it. It’s incongruent with who he is. It’s incongruent with who he made us to be. It’s incongruent with his order for the world.
Some of you say, “But I don’t think God should get angry.” First, I would ask “Who are you?” And second, “Would you worship a God who looked down and saw rape, child molestation, abuse, oppression, tyranny, tragedy and evil? Would you worship a God who looked at this world and said, “I don’t know. Looks fine to me, doesn’t bother me”? That would not be a good God. That would not be a loving God. That would not be a just God. That would not be a holy God. That would be Satan. God gets angry. He gets angry at sin. And the Bible uses words like wrath to explain God’s anger, and wrath is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible. And hell is real, and hell is where God’s angry wrath burns against the unrepentant forever. I know I’m not suppose to tell ya about hell. It’s not popular, but it’s true. And some of you are going there. And I tell you because I’m concerned for ya. You may not know that you are a sinner and that God is holy and good and that he is very angry with you. And he is.
And some would say – some of you have been in college for a little while. Maybe you took a Bible as Lit class from some longhaired hippie, and here’s what he told ya: “The God of the Old Testament is primitive. He’s bloodthirsty. He’s angry. He’s mean. It’s like him in his junior high years. He just comes undone for no reason upon occasion. But by the time we get to Jesus, God’s really figured it all out, and Jesus is a total sweetheart. He holds lambs, he feathers his hair (Laughter). He’s a real sweetie pie.” Did Jesus ever get angry? Yeah. Yeah, he did. At the same place that Nehemiah’s gonna get really angry. He goes to the city of Jerusalem, he goes to the temple, and he sees that the worship of God has been turned into a commercial business to rip people off and take advantage of ‘em. And he never sins. Jesus is a sinless God, we believe that, but he – [whistles] – he flips (Laughter). He’s overthrowing tables, he’s chucking merchandise.
It would be as if God, Jesus came to earth, walked into a Christian bookstore, the next thing you know, there’s Thomas Kinkade paintings flying out the door (Laughter). He’s just jumping up and down on Michael W. Smith and Caedmon’s Call CDs (Laughter), and the whole self-help section goes up in flames, and he’s punching holes in all the stupid posters with versus out of context telling people to be happy. Jesus gets angry.
Now, I got to thread the needle on this. This is not saying, “You got a verse. Go beat somebody up for Jesus.” Right (Laughter)? Some of you guys here are like “Yeah.” No, you know (Laughter). “Yeehaw, Jesus, I’m in.” That’s not what I’m saying. It’s not what I’m saying (Laughter). Okay?
So all you singles guys that are like, on the way home, you know, “If he doesn’t use a turn signal, I’m gonna pull him out and beat him, and I’m gonna quote Nehemiah 13:8, ‘I was very angry. I was very angry (Laughter).’” No. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that some of you have never been angry. I talked to a woman not too long ago. She’s a Christian sister, sweet gal, love her, know her. She says, “I was raped.” I said, “How do you feel about that?” She says, “Well, I know Christians aren’t supposed to get angry, so I’m not angry.” “God’s angry, I’m angry. Feel free to join us.” If something horrible happens and you feel good, there’s something wrong with you. If something horrible happens and you feel angry, you’re agreeing with God. There are some things that are just terrible. I mean, as a pastor, I sit down with people, “My dad raped me, my dad molested me, my boyfriend raped me, my brother molested me.” Angry. Angry because that’s what God feels.
Some of you need to repent of always being angry. Some of you need to repent of never being angry. Some things are worth being angry about. Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are just wrong. And I know we live in a world where they tell ya “No, no, no. It’s all opinion and perspective.” Look. I’ll tell ya this: If there’s no God and there’s no truth, then there is no right and there is no wrong. And if there is no right and there is no wrong, then we lose our right to be angry at sin, evil, injustice, and tyranny. And that’s a tragic loss because it means that we are contradicting the very nature that we were made in as image bearers of God. And so Nehemiah has God’s heart, and he responds in Godly action. So let me explain this. There is righteous and unrighteous anger. Righteous anger is angry for the right reason and responds in the right way. Unrighteous angry is angry rather for the wrong reason and/or responds in the wrong way. Okay?
So let’s say somebody does a horrific thing to you. You’re angry. Your anger might be righteous, but you may respond in an unrighteous way – cussed someone out, slashed their tires, took a swing at them. “You made me mad” (Laughter). See, that’s a sin. If you respond in a way that is sinful or criminal – I got to say that so that I don’t get sued (Laughter). If you respond in a way that is sinful or criminal, even if your anger is righteous, your reaction, your response to it is unrighteous. So righteous anger is this: It’s angry for the right reason and responds in a Godly way to cause change. And in that way anger is a great motivating force. It’s a passion that can be harnessed and channeled for good. I’ll explain this to you. My life includes, especially growing up, a lot of anger. Okay? I grew up in a angry environment. Won’t get into all the details. Anger. I’ve seen a lot of anger, a lot of violence. As a result, I am a guy – by God’s grace, my wick’s getting longer. But I’m a guy, boy, I’ll tell you what, I’ve had many years of my life a super short wick.
I mean, I was a guy – you ever see baseball teams that have bench-clearing brawls and they fight each other? We had that on just my team. All right? ‘Cause I jumped a guy on my team in our dugout (Laughter) because he like spit a sunflower seed on me. So I went after him with a bat during a game (Laughter). That’s unrighteous. Okay? That’s unrighteous (Laughter). You don’t hit a guy with a bat ‘cause he spit a sunflower seed on ya during a game on your own team. Right? Even if you’re not a Christian, you’re like “That’s the first point I fully agree with. I agree with that point right there (Laughter).” I just grew up in an angry, violent world, and so I was a guy who found anger to be very good because sometimes you just need to fight, and you never know when it’s gonna happen.
So the result has been sometimes my anger has led me to do unrighteous things, most often with my mouth. I get curt, mean, cut people down. I don’t know if you notice, I can get a little sarcastic and blunt and such. And so sometimes that comes out in a bad way. And sometimes I send an email when I’m mad, angry, unrighteous response, and about two minutes later I’m like “Oh, man. That’s gonna end up on Google. Now I got to write a press release. Why did I say that?” And, you know, that’s – how many of you have done that, you say something, you’re angry, and you believe that your anger is righteous, but then you speak and you’re like “That was not a righteous response. That doesn’t help anything. That was not what God would have me to say or do”? I have that in my life.
There are occasions too though where being angry was absolutely, I believe, a very righteous thing. I’ll give ya one example. It’s horrible. I was in my teens, fifteen or sixteen. I was present where a grown man, older than me, was beating his wife. This is the kind of violence I’ve seen. I can give you story after story in my life. He hit her, and she fell down, and he started kicking her. His wife. She started screaming, and so he smacked her in the face. And I’m there watching this all happen right in front of me, teenage boy. And I looked at the man. I don’t remember exactly what I said, and I said, “You can’t do that. That’s got to stop.” I mean, I told him to stop. He looked at me with a smirk, and here’s what he said: “Make me.” All right, what are you gonna do at that point? Are you gonna blog about it? Are you gonna call talk radio, “Somebody really needs to do something”, you know? No. As a man, an image bearer of God, I’m not looking for a fight, I’m not picking a fight, I don’t want to be in a fight, but I can’t sit there and watch a woman take a beating, getting kicked in the ribs by her own husband. So what do you do? You have God’s heart, anger, you respond in God’s way. You get involved. Yeah. I mean, I jumped the guy, you know. And I won’t tell you the details, but it went good for me (Applause).
And, you know – and some of you are like “Well, I don’t think a Christian should ever fight.” No, a Christian shouldn’t look for a fight, shouldn’t pick a fight, shouldn’t start with a fight, shouldn’t desire a fight, but also if there’s evil and sin and heresy and injustice and tyranny, sometimes you got to defend that which is worth defending. Jesus, the Bible, your wife, your kids, the weak, the innocent, those that can’t defend themselves. If we have any sense of holiness and justice and righteousness in us, yeah, we don’t start with anger, we have a long wick, but if necessary, we use anger for a righteous response. Of course. That’s why I want you guys to fight for Jesus, for your wife, for your kids, for your grandkids. But if you’re like these guys, they don’t fight for anything. They don’t fight for their marriage. Their marriages are falling apart. They don’t fight for their kids. Their kids are not walking with God, and they’re dating, sleeping with, and marrying people who don’t know God. They’re not fighting for their church. They’ve stopped giving. They’re not fighting for the truth. They’ve let a false teacher in. They’re not fighting for their city. They’ve stopped even participating in the life of their church.
And some of you guys are here and you’re church boys and you grew up in the church and you’re the worst. Church boys drive me nuts because church boys think that they’re good boys providing they never do anything wrong. And the problem is they never do anything. And that’s wrong. That’s wrong. That’s the sin, gentlemen, of your father Adam. Satan shows up to talk to his wife, and he stands there and does, says what? Nothing. And some of you guys say, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” “Did you do anything?” “Well, no.” “Well, that was wrong.” Your sin is the sin of cowardness. Your sin is the sin of impotence. Your sin is the sin of weakness not in a way where Jesus can make you strong, but in a way that you are completely and competent ineffective and unhelpful, that everything and everyone that you are supposed to love and care for and nurture and lead and protect and provide for is being ravished because you don’t like conflict, hurting other peoples’ feelings, or getting in the midst of something that might raise your blood pressure.
And churches are notorious for raising those kind of church boys. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” “Did you do anything?” “I didn’t do anything.” “That was wrong. That was what was wrong.” What I love about Nehemiah, he has God’s heart, he’s angry, he takes action. He calls out the Eliashib and Tobiah. “This guy and this guy, loser.” Just names him. Some of you are like “That’s pretty harsh (Laughter).” It’s the truth. And he clears house. He’s chucking stuff out. And he confronts people. And he fires people. And he then gains the trust of the people so that they give again. I mean, who in the world would to a church or a ministry where the money is being used to disagree with the Bible? It happens all over the place. You walk into a church, “Oh, well, the Bible’s got some nice fairytales and some primitive stories. We don’t really believe that here. We believe that all perspectives are true and all religions are true and all gods are the same. And we believe in one big, happy, dysfunctional, jacked-up, hell-bound family. Would you like to give to our cause?” “No. Because it dishonors God, it’s a lie, and it doesn’t work. And so if I love God, I’m not giving his money to you to undermine him.” And that’s what was happening.
And as soon as Nehemiah stands up, some people start giving again. And he fires people, and he hires good leaders. And they replant and restart their ministry. And in all of this he then closes praying for God’s favor. He has God’s heart, God’s action, God’s favor. He seeks God’s favor, and he closes with a prayer. This man prays throughout the whole book. Here’s what he prays, Verse 14, “Remember me, oh, my God.” And I would ask you this: Can you say with Nehemiah that God is my God? Some of you are gonna say, “I believe in God.” Great. Demons do, according to James, but they don’t love him, they don’t know him, and they don’t have the ability to say, “Jesus is my God.” Do you have a relationship with God? Do you know God? Do you pray to God? Do you listen to God in scripture? Do you obey God? Do you walk with God practically? Are you in communion with God continually? Can you say, “I don’t believe in God, but I have my God. His name is Jesus”? “Remember me, oh, my God, concerning this. And do not wipe out my good deeds.”
Now, some of you in reading this would be like “They don’t look like good deeds. He looks like Mark. He’s all – he’s really – he’s a bit too much. He should be drinking decaf, taking a nap. He’s a little wound up (Laughter).” He says, “These are my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.” He’s not here being self-righteous, but here is what he is saying: “God, I’m not getting a lot of enthusiastic support here in Jerusalem (Laughter)”, right? There’s no “Hey, let’s have a Nehemiah day.” All right? The mayor doesn’t call a holiday. All right? There’s no cake for Nehemiah. There’s no party favors. All right? There’s no “we love Nehemiah” campaign. I’m sure that all the guys that are sleeping with their girlfriends, all the guys that have married non-Christian gals, all the gals that are chasing non-Christian guys, all the kids that are getting drunk and not going to church and jacking everything up, I’m sure that all the people that are getting away with murder look at Nehemiah and despise them ‘cause he’s calling them to repentance.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are pointing out flaws, “Well, he’s not perfect. Who does he think he is? Does he think he’s any better than us? You know, we’re doing the best we can. He’s not very loving. He’s yelling. His tone isn’t very good (Laughter). I think he’s nasty (Laughter).” All the people probably to varying degrees have some criticism of this man. What breaks my heart, he’s all by himself. How pathetic is it that there’s tens of thousands of supposedly God-fearing, worshipping, Bible-believing men in the city and he’s got to travel a few hundred miles, an old guy has to come out of retirement to deal with it? Shouldn’t one of the guys in the city have stood and said, “This is ridiculous. We have non-Christians teaching us the Bible. We have Muslim cleric, Jehovah Witness elder, whomever it is, living in the church”? Nobody did anything. Nobody said anything. No men stood up. Instead they look at Eliashib and said, “Well, maybe this means we can go out and find nice women who hate God, but look nice, and marry ‘em and crank out some babies and stop going to church and keep that ten percent for our hobbies. Nobody did anything.
And so here’s what Nehemiah is saying: “God, please, please know that I love ya and I’m serving ya and I’m doing the best I can.” And in Jesus’ words, he’s storing up his treasures in heaven. And see, you know what? There is a day when you and I will stand before Jesus for final judgment. And here’s what we want to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And you and I just continually live for that day. All the days in the middle they’re just preparation for that day. Everyone else is living for the day that they’re in. Nehemiah is living for the day that is to come. And he’s saying, “God, I love ya. When I stand before ya, I’m hoping that you approve of what I’m doing. I believe with all my heart I’m honoring you as best I can. I’m all by myself.” And the book just is heartbreaking. He starts by himself, he ends by himself. He starts in prayer. He ends in prayer. He starts in a rebellious, stiff-necked, stubborn, wicked people, and he ends with those same people. It’s heartbreaking.
Let me turn this to tell you how all of this reveals Jesus. Our God is Jesus Christ. The other religions are wrong. Every other religion tells you what you must do to please God. Jesus alone is pleasing to God. Every other religion tells you what you must do. We will tell you what Jesus has done. Every other religion is about you saving yourself in some way. Christianity is not a religion. It’s a faith and a relationship with Jesus who is the savior. It is not that I hate other religions and people. It’s that I hate lies that dishonor Jesus and send people to hell. And I don’t believe it’s nice to allow those kinds of things to continue without addressing them truthfully. So let me tell ya about Jesus. In the story of Nehemiah, we see the foreshadowing of Jesus. Nehemiah sees that the people are in sin, great need, are not going to fix it. Jesus sees our great God and savoir, that likewise there is sin and folly and rebellion, and we’re not going to fix it. So as Nehemiah ventures from Susa to Jerusalem, so Jesus ventures from heaven to the earth, and he comes actually to Jerusalem.
And Jesus, amazingly enough, comes to deal with our sin problem. Now, let me tell ya this: You are a sinner, I’m a sinner. I’m no better than you are. We’re all sinners. We sin with our words, our deeds and our motives. We have sins of omission where we don’t do good. We have sins of commission where we do, do bad. We’re all sinners. The question then is how does God feel about our sin? How does God feel about your sin? How does God feel about my sin? He feels very angry. You say, “No, no, no, no, no, no. God loves a sinner, and he hates the sin. That’s what it says on my bumper sticker. That’s what he says on my T-shirt. It must be true. They wouldn’t put it on a T-shirt unless it were true (Laughter).” Do you know who came up with that slogan? The Hindu Mahatma Gandhi. It’s nowhere in your Bible. It’s not on the lips of Jesus.
You will see verses like Psalm 5:5, which declares “God hates all who do evil.” God hates evildoers. We sin. God hates us. Some of you say, “No, no, no, no, no. God loves us. He hates what we do.” We do what we are. We do what we are. Out of our heart, out of our center, out of our nature comes our life. “Good trees, Jesus says, “produce good fruit. Bad trees produce good fruit.” You can’t say, “That’s a good tree. It just has bad fruit.” Some of you have this lingering myth that you’re a good person who does bad things. If you’re a good person, why do you do bad things (Laughter)? You say, “I’m an apple tree.” “You make any apples?” “No. I make oranges.” “Guess what you are? You’re an orange tree (Laughter).” And some people think “Well, I’m good in here and I’m bad out there.” No, no, no. What you do out here is a reflection and echo, a result of what you are in here. A sinner by nature who then has sin in your life.
You’re not deep down a really good person. You’re deep down a really, really, really bad person. And the fact you don’t know that proves my point (Laughter). And you’re a sinner, and I’m a sinner, and there is a sense in which God loves us, to be sure, but God is also angry at our sin, and he must be angry at our sin. And if he’s not angry with our sin, then he’s not a good God, a holy God, a just God or a loving God because when someone hurts us, we want God to say, “That was wrong.” Yet when we do evil to someone else, we want God to say, “That’s not a problem.” We’re all hypocrites. We all want to receive mercy and give justice. And so God has us to contend with. And Jesus comes to the earth knowing that we’re a sinner and that there is anger that is absolutely justified from God against us sinners. And what does Jesus do? He resists temptation in every way, lives perfectly and freely without sin. And like Nehemiah, he does something. He has God’s heart, and he has Godly action.
And Jesus Christ, friends, did the most unbelievable thing. I’ve been thinking about it since I was 19, and I still haven’t gotten over it. Jesus Christ, God, went to the cross, took upon himself all of my sin, and he suffered, died, and was punished for my sin. And all of the angry wrath of God, which I absolutely completely and undeniably deserve was propitiated, the Bible says, or diverted. It was taken from me and laid upon Jesus. And he was beaten and bloodied, and he suffered and died in my place for my sins. And so at the cross we see that God is holy and righteous and good and loving and merciful and kind. And that God found a way not to change his character, not to deny his right emotions, but also not to sentence us to eternal damnation, but to provide for us a way of salvation. There is no one like Jesus. There is no religion that properly understands Jesus, other than Christianity when rightly taught from the Bible.
And what I love is that like Nehemiah, Jesus ended in prayer. And what did he pray? “Father – ” he’s dying. “Father, forgive them.” That’s Jesus. And here is the good news: God need not be angry with any of you. That if you confess your sins to Jesus and place your faith in him and his death and burial and resurrection is credited to you, there’s this great exchange. He takes your sin and God’s angry wrath, and he gives you his righteousness and God’s unending love. That’s the exchange. Then through Jesus God is not angry with you. Jesus died for sin, past, present and future. And if you are here today and you don’t know Jesus and you can’t say, “He is my God”, God is very angry with you. And unless you repent, his wrath will be poured out against you, and you will spend eternity in conscious eternal torment of hell. That’s the truth. I’m grievously worried for many of you. For those of you who have given your sin to Jesus and received his salvation, you should sleep well, you should live free, you should breathe deep, you should sing loud, you should be happy because God’s love you is irrevocable, God’s love to you is transforming, God’s love to you is continual, God’s love to you is forever.
And because of Jesus, the angry wrath that you deserve has been taken, and the love that you don’t deserve has been granted. Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Do you appreciate Jesus? Are you trusting in Jesus? Are you like Tobiah, stubborn, religious, hardhearted, self-righteous? Are you like Eliashib, weak, cowardly, timid, compromised, offending God? Are you like Nehemiah, doing the best you can to have God’s heart, to act in Godly ways, storing up your treasures in heaven? It’s time for you to search your heart. You can repent of sin and in prayer just asking Jesus to forgive you and be a Christian tonight, and he will. That’s how good he is. When you’re ready, all who are Christian or become Christian tonight, can take communion, remembering the body and blood of Jesus, how the anger of God was taken. And don’t think that God is a primitive God who demands blood. God is a good God who gives his own. We celebrate that at communion.
Give of your tithes and offerings as God leads you, and then we’re going to sing. And we sing because we are people that have been forgiven. And we are people who’ve experienced the love of God through the Son of God and not the wrath of God in light of the anger of God. I’ll say this: I worked a lot more into this sermon than I did the others today. I really have a concern for some of you. I know some of you are college students, I know some of you are single. I know many of you are young. I know that many of you come here just teetering on that fence of whether you’re gonna be Eliashib or you’re gonna be Tobiah or you’re gonna be Nehemiah. I would just beg you to make sure that you remain connected to Jesus because our city and our church and your family and your kids and your grandkids and your legacy and your eternity are at stake. And maybe tonight it would even be a good thing for you to be a little bit angry with yourself.
I’ll pray. Father God, I pray for my friends. I pray for those who have gathered to hear your word. I thank you for the great privilege it is to be a preacher at Mars Hill Church. I thank you for the great honor it is to be a sinner who has a savior. I thank you, Lord Jesus, that you take all of our emotions and redeem them for glorious good, including appropriate anger. God, it is my prayer that our leaders would not go the way of Eliashib, that in the name of tolerance we wouldn’t neglect truthfulness, that in the effort to be kind and welcoming people, we would not overlook you. And that, Lord God, our zeal and passion would not wane, that out of God-centered truth there would be a -