TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 5-9
OVERVIEW: The anger of Nehemiah regarding the way the wealthy Jews had taken advantage of the poorer Jews; the enemy attacks with deceit, slander and threats; the people who returned are numbered; the Word of God is preached to the people; the Levites cry out to God praising Him for His mercy and goodness.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Chapter 5 is a sad chapter. The Jews are selfishly preying upon one another for the sake of material gain and money! It just so happens to be that no building takes place in this chapter either. There were great economic burdens on the Jews, not only because of the famine (Hag. 1:7-11), but also because of taxes and tributes. The poorer Jews were being robbed by their own richer Jewish brethren through mortgages and servitude. They were forced to do this in order to get food and other necessities. The Jews, like us today, were supposed to watch out for one another, love one another, and help one another. They did the exact opposite...they preyed on one another. Proverbs 3:27 tells us to, “withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” Philippians 2:4 says, “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” We can become so selfish that we choose to make money on those to whom we shoul!
d be offering help. This whole practice of the Jews made Nehemiah very angry (Neh. 5:6). That just happens to be the same response Jesus had when this same type of thing was happening in the New Testament (Mark 11:15-17). Nehemiah very wisely put this evil, selfish practice to an end (Neh. 5:9-12) and got back to the work at hand.
In chapter 6 the work on the walls resumes. It is no coincidence that when the work started again, the enemy also appears. This time Sanballat and his men aim their attacks at Nehemiah the leader. Satan knows that every thing rises and falls on leadership. If he can get Nehemiah to stop building the walls, then the work stops altogether. There is a high price to pay when you are God’s leader in any area (i.e. pastor, father, mother, teacher, discipler, etc.). There is a large target on your back for Satan to take aim. This is why we must all put on the whole armor of God daily (Eph. 6:10-18). Sanballat tries repeatedly to arrange a meeting with Nehemiah “to just talk”. Nehemiah did not fall for this trick because he was not ignorant of Satan’s devices (II Cor. 2:11). Beware of the smiles of the enemy, for Satan is more dangerous when he appears to be your friend than at any other time. Four invitations came (Neh. 6:3-4) and Nehemiah refused them all. Stay on the j!
ob when Satan invites you to quit, and God will bless you. The fifth time the messenger comes with an “open letter” (vs. 5) filled with slanderous accusations against Nehemiah. “It is reported” (vs. 6) is one of the devil’s chief weapons. “They say” or “I have heard,” and “Did you know?” are usually phrases that introduce gossip and lies. Nehemiah’s life and character refuted every lie in the letter. Note how Nehemiah once again takes this problem to God in prayer (vs. 9). The servant of God cannot help what men may say about him, but he can help what kind of character and testimony he has. If Nehemiah had stopped the work to defend his reputation, the walls would never have been built. But that didn’t happen and the walls were completed in just 52 days (vs. 15)! God was glorified and the enemy was embarrassed (vs. 16). May all the work you allow the Lord to do through you end with this same result!
Chapter 7 is a numbering of all the people who had returned from the exile. In Chapter 8 Ezra returned to Jerusalem to assist Nehemiah with the dedication of the walls and the sanctifying of the people. It is significant that the people gathered to hear the Word of God at the water gate (8:1)…for water always pictures the Word of God (Eph. 5:26). Verses 8 and 9 describe the perfect church service: the people all assembled to listen; the Word was exalted high; the preacher read and explained the Word so the people could understand it; and the people wept at hearing the Word, which no doubt, revealed their sin! This reading of the Word in chapter 8 led the leaders to prayer in chapter 9. All of chapter 9 is a prayer that gives us a spiritual summary of the Old Testament history of the Jews. In this prayer, they praise God for His mercy to them in spite of their unfaithfulness.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
Through NEHEMIAH – Nehemiah 5:17-19. He was the governor of the people, yet he fed all who came (Jews, nobles, and even Gentiles) to his table at no cost to them.