It was on this day in the year 444 B.C.E. that Ezra and Nehemiah convened the Jewish community in Jerusalem in order to purge a contingent of pagan strangers from their midst, and to renew the ancient covenant. This is recorded in Nehemiah 9:1-2:
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers; and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”
This Scripture demonstrates that, from time to time, there are things that have to be purged from our lives; those things that often go unnoticed – the “little foxes that spoil the vine.” These spiritual pollutants accumulate over time and are, eventually, brought to our attention, thus provoking the purge. More often than not, this process is not fun but is quite painful, in fact – at least where our flesh is concerned.
Here is another example of this we find in the Scripture: Abraham was compelled to send Hagar and Ishmael away, much to Abraham’s dismay. Yet, it could be argued that Ishmael should never have happened. He was the son of the flesh while Isaac was the son of promise. It pained Abraham desperately to have to send his son away, no doubt driving a wedge in their relationship. In all likelihood the same scenario played out in Nehemiah’s day as well; it was a very emotional time for many as relationships were broken off. But like with Abraham, the argument could be made that those relationships should have never been.
All of this is to say that there are things we allow to accumulate in our lives; things that, if we let them continue, will disrupt our lives and potentially distance us from our Creator. It doesn’t have to be relationships with people but might include relationships with other philosophies and ideologies. The important thing is, when He brings these situations to our attention, He expects us to do what is necessary to restore a proper relationship with Him.
Years ago, David Binon wrote a song called, “Goodbye To Me” – a song which sums up what we are called to do each and every day – die to self. We have to say “goodbye” to our desires and all that has accumulated in our life which is not conducive to a thriving relationship with our Father. He continually calls upon us to rid ourselves of those things that would impede a closer walk with Him. It can be a painful process, but it’s a necessary process and it is in our best interests.
At some point in our lives, all of us have allowed things to accumulate that need to be purged from our lives. Let us call upon the Father in heaven to bring these things to our attention, to help us identify them and to give us the strength to say “Good bye.”