Summary: How proper fearing of God (instead of forgetting him) can lead to a unified community. Nehemiahs revival met with internal obstacles as well as the external one
Unity from Fear
How to Create a Unified Community Through God-Fearing.
(the main body is a bit sparse. But i hope with the opening thoughts and basic outline that this will help those working through Nehemiah. Unfortunately the main body was hand written and never got entered.)
Cornell Lewis activist
What Bristol needs is a Cornell Lewis.
That’s right, a bullhorn-wielding community activist who’s not afraid to make a little noise, annoy the folks in charge - and sometimes anyone else in earshot - in the name of community empowerment.
I know ... I never thought I’d ever hear myself say that, either. (Helen Urbinas, Hartford courant)
The Rev. Lewis told DRCNet his campaign to take back the streets was gathering steam after a rocky beginning. "We had a campout two weeks ago and that stirred up resistance from the drug dealers," he said. "One lady came out and ranted and raved at us for 45 minutes. Then the drug dealers sent a messenger saying they understood what we were doing, but they didn’t like it because it disrupted their business. We sent them a message back saying we didn’t appreciate their bringing a climate of violence to the community," Lewis said. "Later a man came down and rapped a song at us about how he had a gat and an extra clip and was looking for someone to shoot. We asked him to leave," said Lewis. But things got better, he said.
"Last weekend, people in the neighborhood came out and greeted us, they brought us food and drink," Lewis continued. "It was a better reception. We had sent flyers into the neighborhood telling where the drug houses were, and now the traffic is minimal," he told DRCNet.
The Rev. Lewis, of course, begs to differ. "These criminal elements are destroying our neighborhoods and they need to be dealt with now," he said. Adding that some are "operating on a worldview based on materialism and hedonism, heedless of God’s law and man’s law," Lewis said the dealers were un-amenable to gentle persuasion.
"That’s where our methods come into play. No drug dealer will stay in business if he can’t make money, so we try to make it impossible for them to operate," he said. "We’ve had some success in some neighborhoods," he added. "I tell you what, come up with something better, then I’ll listen, in the meantime we’ll do what we think is necessary." (http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/236/hartford.shtml)
A food shortage has led to hardship of (especially) poorer people, and the well off are charging them interest, something not allowed in the OT law.
Nehemiah confronts the culprits, chastises them, and calls them into congruence with the law (exhibiting “fear of the Lord). Nehemiah reveals his (?) efforts to buy back the people in slavery over this. They agree to pay back everything, the oppression stops, and the people breath relief and praise God.
Nehemiah recounts how because of the fear of the Lord, he governed with a gentle hand, not demanding what could have been his, and always sharing what he had. His desire is for the Lord to remember how he treated people.
Key Point: A Unified Community Emerges When God-fearing replaces God-forgetting.
Key Verse: VERSE 9
Going about the Lords work but still forgetting him
Fear of the Lord def.: Terror vs. Reverent Fear
Range from terror (with trembling and shaking) to reverence (with love and worship)
Job: “I am terrified in His presence.” (Job 23:15)
In Jeremiah: “Do you not fear me? Do you not tremble before me?”
Jesus: Fear Him who has the power to cast into hell.” (Lk 12:4)
Acts (5:5): Fear falls on church at the news of Ananias and Sapphira
“The remarkable thing about fearing God,” wrote Oswald Chambers, “is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” Because Nehemiah’s life was motivated by the fear of the Lord (Neh. 5:15), he did not fear what the enemy might do (vv. 14, 19). The fear of the Lord moved Nehemiah to be a faithful servant of the Lord. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Determined)
Deuteronomy 28:58 says if you don’t fear and keep the words of His law, then He will bring affliction on you. Dan, would this have been on Nehemiah’s mind? For sure, later, when they take other nation’s wives, etc.
2 Chronicles 19:4 Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. And he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. 5 He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. 7 Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for zthere is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”