Summary: Many of us are challenged with resolving conflicts and still honoring God. In his life, even as the governor of Jerusalem charged with helping the people, Nehemiah still ONLY wanted God’s approval … is that what we desire also?
Meanwhile, behind the walls …
- Nehemiah is a great study of leadership, but also shows obedience to God
- Last week we saw Nehemiah establishing a watch while they worked
-- This put the people on guard to protect them from the enemy
-- But also let the enemy know they were being watched; which deflated them
- They then went back to work with the same vision: rebuild Jerusalem’s walls
-- I wondered while Mike was presenting this, how often is the reverse true?
-- EX: The enemy attacks, and rather than standing firm – we back down
-- Nehemiah trusted God to be faithful to do His part, so shouldn’t’ we?
- This morning we get a view of what’s also going on behind the scenes
-- IMP: The greatest wall will never stand if the society behind it is broken
-- It is in this fact that we see a tremendous lesson for us today
∆ Point 1 – Nehemiah identifies the economic oppression
- Read Nehemiah 5:1-5
- What we see here is great lesson in how society’s work
-- The defensive measures might be in place, but the society is broken (v1)
-- The people saw Nehemiah perhaps as an advocate so they complained to him
- Note here that even women were joining in the complaining (this is unusual)
-- For this to happen, surely they had reached a desperate level in Jerusalem
-- But do you notice who they are complaining about?
- They are railing against their fellow Jews!
-- First, there are Jews who do not own any land of their own (v2)
-- They had to ask the government for grain so that they could even live
- The second group is the landowners (v3) but they too have problems
-- They are mortgaged to the hilt, and the crops have constantly failed
-- Their loans are too numerous, and to even survive they have to scrape by
-- RE: There is a tremendous famine in this time (v3) that’s affected all
- And the last group also consisted of landowners, but the issue is taxation
-- Because of the king’s taxes, they too are mortgaged to their eyeballs
-- They are facing imminent ruin if something does not change (v4)
- IMP: In v5 we see the root cause: They are doing this to one another!
-- We are the same flesh and blood, therefore considered brothers to one another
-- Yet, they’ve had to subject their own children to work and slavery
-- Even the daughters had been enslaved which in itself is disgraceful
- Something to note: the payment of debt through enslavement isn’t illegal
-- But the law has safeguards built in; even though it’s almost at its limit as well
-- Imagine these parents: defenseless and unable to help their own children
--- “We are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others”
- The economic oppression these people have has caused a crippling cycle
-- We must borrow to eat, but we must take out a loan to borrow
-- Then we must enslave ourselves in order to pay back the debt … but …
-- We still need to eat so we must borrow more to eat …. Rinse & repeat
- If there was ever a clear cut example of debt being silly, here you go
-- We get into debt, we borrow to get out of debt, & we get more into debt
-- Then we reach max capacity, panic, borrow … and the cycle never seems to end
-- If you’re in this cycle get some help, please! Having a budget works …
- Nehemiah has a society in a vicious cycle that he’s helping to rebuild
-- IMP: You cannot survive if you are pitted against one another
- TRANS: Read Nehemiah 5:6-11
∆ Point 2 – Nehemiah pronounces judgment
- After listening to their complaints, Nehemiah is very angry with them (v6)
-- The oppression of fellow Jews is shameful, esp. as they are rebuilding together
-- But, instead of showing it, he refrained from responding (v7)
- After careful thought (sometimes it’s better to be silent for a few …)
-- He rebuked those who were responsible for this ... look at his words:
-- (Pause) “You are charging your own people interest!”
-- RE: You are doing this to yourselves! It’s not even someone else’s doing!
- Nehemiah felt a huge moral outrage here; and so he must act (v7-8)
-- Nehemiah said that we’ve brought our people back from slavery …
-- But they are now selling one another to each other, to be sold back to us!
-- APP: Do you see the ridiculous cycle of nonsense? It must stop!
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