Friday, December 17, 2010

My Study Notes on Chapter 6: Crushing the Spirits of Greed and Poverty by Sandie Freed

It's been awhile but Christmas is actually a great time to continue studying greed and poverty as it relates to God and His children.  We're up to Chapter 6 so if you need to catch up, please do.  Look in our October/November archives for previous posts.

Chapter 6: Is There an Ammonite in Your Treasury?
This chapter recounts the story of Nehemiah. He was a godly prophet who is best known for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. In the midst of this is another story about Tobiah. He was an evil, unholy, "demonically inspired enemy of Israel, to move into God's treasury room and possess it."

The chapter begins with a history on Nehemiah and the palace where the king lived in the winter. Turns out the area is rich with Biblical history including what was to come: Esther and her commitment to her people.

But Nehemiah was focused on His people and how although they were able to practice their religion in Babylon, they were still captives. He longed for home, Israel. Deep in thought, he had no idea he had a visitor. When he meets with Hanani, Nehemiah learns Hanani recently returned from Jerusalem. The report? The walls are down, gates burned. The news is so devastating Nehemiah is even more grief stricken.

The grief didn't end. Nehemiah is so troubled that his boss even asked what was going on. Nehemiah's job was to taste all the king's drinks to make sure they weren't poisoned. The king trusted Nehemiah and so they two talked. The king heard all about Jerusalem and what Hanani saw.
Nehemiah used wisdom with his words and not only had the king asking what could he do, but Nehemiah was on his way to Jerusalem with letters from the king granting Nehemiah permission to cross foreign lands. The king also provided a caravan of goods and resources for Nehemiah. It was clear God gave favor to Nehemiah.

With God's favor comes the defeated one and his desperate plans. Satan went to work with evil rulers Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite governmental official and Geshem, an Arab.  Sanballat and Tobiah are best remembered in Nehemiah for trying to discourage Nehemiah's plans. Although not as well known, Geshem was also out to destroy Nehemiah's plan and together the three make up a three fold demonic cord (another book Sandie Freed wrote) that deserve our attention.

Sanballat: the name means hate in disguise. Evil is always like this. Satan is like a terrorist. He doesn't want to be exposed or seen, his evil plans are devised in hiding. 

Tobiah: means the Lord is good but in this case, Tobiah rejected the potential in his name. It's easy to judge but the author asks a challenging question, how many times have we mocked the potential and plans God has for us?  Sandy shares her own challenges where she judged church building plans and spending money.  Guess what?  When we oppose God's building plans it's Tobiah's voice at work. The Tobiah voice is against God's building plans. (My note: I understand some Christians tackle building plans or ministries not called by God.  This definition is NOT those circumstances).

Geshem: means to cause rain. Ever hear the phrase, rain on your parade?  That's a Geshem voice working, trying to discourage God's plan.

These three went after Nehemiah for a few reasons. He was Jewish returning home to rebuild the ruins. That couldn't have sat well with forces who hated Jews. Nehemiah also had favor in everything he did. We've seen people jealous of people with wealth and resources, and that's an open door for Mammon to step in and stir up some envy and strife.  It's a slippery slope and often we fall into those feelings without even knowing. As Sandy explains, once we realize how we're falling into the trap, we're like deer in headlights.

Nehemiah not only finishes the rebuilding process, he's breaking speed records getting the job done. This makes Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem even angrier. They're set on destroying him and they keep sending messages to meet with him on the Plain of Ono.  Nehemiah, using Godly wisdom and discernment knows these guys are up to no good and refuses to meet with them, and pretty much calls them and Satan on the plan. They keep asking, as many as five times. Each time Nehemiah stays firm in God's plan and refusal to enter their death structure.

Sandy writes that "Mammon seeks to cause us to become double minded, which means a person is not in unity with God and His purpose for his or her life."  I've fallen for that for much less than rebuilding ruins in Israel!

Nehemiah finishes the rebuilding in not years, but less than 2 months.  Talk about favor!  Over 42 thousand people return to the area giving gifts. Not long after the priest, Ezra, reads a scroll and everyone praises God all day, repenting for their sins. People continued to move back. Praise and worship continued. Then they realize the Ammonites and Moabites aren't supposed to 
worship at the temple because they worshiped Baal and were under the influence of Mammon. The foreigners were told to leave right then.

Most foreigners left, but one priest had a friend, Tobiah, yea, that guy, and the priest let Tobiah stay. More than that, the priest changed the room where the treasury was kept and made it into a room for Tobiah.  Nehemiah found out and threw Tobiah and all his things out. Nehemiah made sure the room was cleaned and restored to its original place as treasury.

Ammon is a derititive of Mammon, so the influence of Mammon was in Tobiah the Ammonite. Remember, Mammon is out to steal our treasure and joy and harden our hearts. Ammonites are also behind the seduction of Solomon into idolatry and the Ammonite Molech was an idolater who used children for sacrifices. This is the spiritual background behind abortion, which also has a connection to Jezebel. If you have a heart to pray against abortion, pray for the elimination of Jezebel and Mammon.  According to Zephaniah 1:5, AMP, Molech is also the spiritual condition behind serving God only with words and not deeds.
This is such an informative chapter. I know Nehemiah's story but now I feel like I KNOW it. My heart is to understand the spiritual voices behind demonic things so I know what to pray against. Again, evil hides. Jesus is greater than fear and evil. I'd rather pray and proclaim God's authority into the atmosphere.  Wouldn't you?

If you, like the author, and I definitely can relate, there is a prayer of repentance at the end of the chapter. Read Nehemiah 9 and see how the Israelites praised Him. Worship Him. If you feel like you've been barren, read Isaiah 54 and sing.  You've been robbed, your treasury taken, now you've repented. It's time to sing!

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