For today, I want to focus on the deceit of Shemaiah. Shemaiah came to Nehemiah in a panic. He said that men were coming to kill Nehemiah and he had to act quickly. He should run to the temple, the most secure place in Jerusalem, and shut the doors behind him so that he could be safe.
And right away, Nehemiah knew that this message isn’t from God. How is that possible? How could he have known that right away? Because He knew God’s Word. He knew God’s law. He knew it would be a sin to do what Shemaiah asked him to do. Numbers 18:7 says, “But only you (Aaron) and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.” If Nehemiah walked into the temple, he would be fried to a crisp and killed on the spot!
This is the importance of knowing God’s Word as best we can. When we know God’s Word we can tell if what someone is saying is truth and from God or not. 1 John 4:1-2 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
We live in a world and in a society today where many people hope to become the next big thing. They start the next big trend on TikTok, have the next viral video on YouTube, or become a world-renown influencer on Instagram. And unfortunately, the desire to be the next big thing has also crept into the faith as well. And people will use the name of Jesus to spread their ideas of who He is.
Unfortunately, there have been many who will twist Scriptures to their own point of view. They will speak something that is not true about Christ and claim that “God gave them this message,” just like Shemaiah did. They will compromise Jesus to say something that is new, innovative, and different so that their message will be spread far and wide, and hopefully, be more positively accepted. And why would they? Why would they risk the wrath of God? It’s to gain the same things people have chased after since the beginning of time: power, influence, and money. If the money and fame is great enough, they are willing to say whatever it takes, even if it means making Christians believe something about their faith that’s not true.
But if we know the Bible, if we are grounded in the Word, we will not fall for these cleverly devised stories. Peter said as much in the first chapter of his second letter which says, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
God is good, He doesn’t lie, doesn’t contradict Himself, and would never ask us to sin. If we know and understand what we believe, continually reminding ourselves of it by staying in the Word, keep questioning and testing everything we hear on whether it is truth or not, we will not fall for the lies some may try to present us.