Monthly Archives: August 2014

NEHEMIAH 11 – THE CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 11 – THE CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM

A. Recruiting citizens of Jerusalem.

1. (Nehemiah 11:1) Those who will live in Jerusalem.

Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities.

a. To bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem: It wasn’t enough to see the city walls rebuilt and the spiritual renewal of the people of Jerusalem; now they concerned themselves with getting more people into the city.

i. For a city to prosper and be great, it must be populated. And for more than seventy years, Jerusalem had been nothing but a ghost town. Now, over the last eighty or so years, it has been repopulated, with a new temple built (under Ezra) and the walls rebuilt (under Nehemiah). But the city still needed more people.

ii. Nehemiah also knew the bigger the population of Jerusalem, the greater the resources for defense and strength in battle. He didn’t rebuild the walls just to see some conquering army come and break them down again!

b. Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: It was good that the leaders of the people set the example by living in Jerusalem. Leaders must set the pattern by their lives. They had no right to expect the people to live in Jerusalem if they themselves were not living there.

c. One out of ten: The rest of the people submitted themselves to a lottery system, where one out of ten would be selected to move from the surrounding regions into the city of Jerusalem. So, in the end, at least ten percent of Judah’s population would live in Jerusalem.

2. (Nehemiah 11:2) Blessing the citizens of Jerusalem.

And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

a. And the people blessed all the men: Apart from the leaders (who had a special obligation) and those selected in the lottery (who were also obligated), there were all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. These men had a special blessing.

i. They had a unique pioneer spirit. They had the ability to endure some measure of hardship or discomfort to accomplish a greater work for God’s kingdom.

ii. It was in these days in the rebuilding of Jerusalem that God asked and important question through the prophet Zechariah: For who has despised the day of small things? (Zechariah 4:10). The answer is, “Many of us have!” But these who offered themselves to willingly live at Jerusalem, so as to take what is small and build it up before the Lord, have decided to not despise the day of small things.

b. To dwell at Jerusalem: If such a blessing is reserved for those who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem, there was something special about the challenge of living in Jerusalem.

i. To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-order your view of material things. You had to give up land in your previous region and take up some kind of new business in Jerusalem.

ii. To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-arrange your social priorities, certainly leaving some friends and family behind in your old village.

iii. To live in Jerusalem, you had to have a mind to endure the problems in the city. It had been a ghost town for 70 years, and was now basically a slightly rebuilt, somewhat repopulated ghost town. The city didn’t look all that glorious and it needed work.

iv. To live in Jerusalem, you had to live knowing you were a target for the enemy. There were strong walls to protect you, but since Jerusalem was now a notable city with rebuilt walls, the fear was more from whole armies than bands of robbers. The old village was nice, but not in much danger from great armies.

v. The Bible tells us there is a city coming down from heaven to earth, when God is done with this earth as we know it, and it calls that city New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). People don’t want to be citizens of the New Jerusalem for the same reasons many didn’t want to be citizens of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem.

B. Roster of those living in Jerusalem and in Judea.

1. (Nehemiah 11:3-24) Leaders who lived in Jerusalem.

These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities; Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.) Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin. The children of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the children of Perez; and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni. All the sons of Perez who dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred and sixty-eight valiant men. And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah; and after him Gabbai and Sallai, nine hundred and twenty-eight. Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city. Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, and Jachin; Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the leader of the house of God. Their brethren who did the work of the house were eight hundred and twenty-two; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and his brethren, heads of the fathers’ houses, were two hundred and forty-two; and Amashai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, and their brethren, mighty men of valor, were one hundred and twenty-eight. Their overseer was Zabdiel the son of one of the great men. Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the heads of the Levites, had the oversight of the business outside of the house of God; Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred and eighty-four. Moreover the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren who kept the gates, were one hundred and seventy-two. And the rest of Israel, of the priests and Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance. But the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel. And Ziha and Gishpa were over the Nethinim. Also the overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in charge of the service of the house of God. For it was the king’s command concerning them that a certain portion should be for the singers, a quota day by day. Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was the king’s deputy in all matters concerning the people.

a. These are the heads of the province: This extensive list includes tribal leaders (of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), military men, priests, Levites, gatekeepers, and civil and royal servants.

b. Who dwelt in Jerusalem: All these notable men and their families took the lead by choosing to settle in Jerusalem, setting a good example for all God’s people.

2. (Nehemiah 11:25-36) Jewish villages and towns throughout Judea.

And as for the villages with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt in Kirjath Arba and its villages, Dibon and its villages, Jekabzeel and its villages; in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth Pelet, Hazar Shual, and Beersheba and its villages; in Ziklag and Meconah and its villages; in En Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages; in Lachish and its fields; in Azekah and its villages. They dwelt from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom. Also the children of Benjamin from Geba dwelt in Michmash, Aija, and Bethel, and their villages; in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah; in Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim; in Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat; in Lod, Ono, and the Valley of Craftsmen. Some of the Judean divisions of Levites were in Benjamin.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Nehemiah Chapter 10

Unknown

Nehemiah Chapter 10

Chapter 10
The people had listened to the law of God (Nehemiah chapter 8) and they had remembered their history (Nehemiah chapter 9). Then they made an agreement with God.
v1 This is a list of the people who signed this agreement:
Nehemiah the chief officer, who was the son of Hachaliah,
and Zedekiah,
v2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
v3 Pashur, Amariah, Malkijah,
v4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
v5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
v6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
v7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
v8 Maaziah, Bilgai and Shemaiah.
Those were the priests.
v9 These were the *Levites:
Jeshua, who was the son of Azaniah,
Binnui, who was one of the sons of Henadad,
Kadmiel.
v10 The other *Levites, who were their companions were:
Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
v11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
v12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
v13 Hodiah, Bani and Beninu.
Verses 1-13
Nehemiah recorded this list of the men who signed the agreement with God. Nehemiah was the ruler of *Judah, so he signed the agreement. Zedekiah probably helped Nehemiah to rule, so he signed the agreement also. Some of the priests also signed the agreement. These priests were probably the heads of the families. Some of the *Levites also signed the agreement. The *Levites and the priests led the people when they *worshipped God.
v14 The leaders of the people were:
Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
v15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
v16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
v17 Ater, Hizkijah, Azzur,
v18 Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai,
v19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
v20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
v21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
v22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
v23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hashub,
v24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
v25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
v26 Ahijah, Hanan, Anan,
v27 Malluch, Harim and Baanah.
Verses 14-27
The leaders of the people also signed the agreement.
v28-29 The rest of the people, together with the chief men, agreed to make a serious promise to obey God’s law. And they agreed that they would be responsible for their future behaviour. These people were:
· the priests
· the *Levites
· the people who guarded the gates
· the singers
· the servants of the *temple
· all the people who separated themselves from the people who lived in the nations near them. They did this because they wanted to obey God’s law.
· their wives
· all their sons and daughters who were old enough to understand.
God had given his law by his servant Moses. These people promised to obey all the commands, judgements and rules of the *LORD our *Lord.
Verses 28-29
After all the leaders of the people had signed the agreement, all the rest of the people agreed. They also made a serious promise to God. Even the children who were old enough to understand made promises to God. They all promised to obey all the laws of God.
The people in the nations near Jerusalem served other gods, which were not real gods. So the *Jews separated themselves from these other nations because they wanted to be loyal to the real God.
v30-31 ‘This is what we promise.
· We will not allow our daughters to marry the people who belong to the nations near us.
· We will not allow their daughters to marry our sons.
· The 7th day of the week will be a special holy day for us. The people who live near us will bring goods or grain to sell to us. But we will not buy anything on that day, or on any other holy day.
· Every 7th year we will not farm the land and we will cancel all debts.’
Verses 30-31
The people promised God that *Jews would not marry people from other nations. Most foreigners served other gods, which were not real gods. God knew that the *Jews would follow the ways of the foreigners. They would serve other gods and they would not serve him. So he warned them not to marry these foreigners (Nehemiah 13:1-3; 13:24-27). God had sent their *ancestors into *exile because they had served other gods.
The people also promised to keep the 7th day of the week special and holy for God. God had told them to rest on the 7th day. He told them to allow their animals and their foreign servants to rest also (Exodus 23:12). God himself had rested on the 7th day after he had made the world. So he made it a special day (Genesis 2:1-3).
It was a special day when the people *worshipped God. He told them not to work on that day. He also told them not to farm their land each 7th year. Then they would not be able to grow crops, because God wanted them to depend on him.
If the people rested on the 7th day, then the nations near them would notice. Then the other nations would know that the *Jews loved the real God.
Just before the people went into *exile, God warned them by his *prophet Jeremiah. God made a promise if the people obeyed his command about the 7th day. He promised that the people would be a great nation (Jeremiah 17:24-25). But they did not obey his command. So God sent them into *exile and he allowed enemies to destroy Jerusalem.
v32 ‘We will make a law for ourselves. That law will oblige us to pay the *temple tax each year. That money will pay for the work of God’s house, called the *temple.
v33 This money will pay for the special bread and for the grain and meat for the regular *sacrifices. It will also pay for the *sacrifices on holy days. These *sacrifices happen every 7th day of the week and at the start of every month. The money will also pay for the special meetings and the holy *sacrifices. The money will also pay for the *sacrifices when the *Israelite people ask God to forgive their *sins. And it will pay for all the work of God’s house, that is, the *temple.
v34 We all threw *lots. This included the priests, the *Levites and the rest of the people. By this method, we have decided which families will bring the gift of wood. They will bring the wood at certain times in the year. The priests will use this wood to burn the *sacrifices to the *Lord our God. This is what God’s law orders.
v35 We also promise that we will bring the first of our crops and the first of our fruit. We will bring these every year to the house of the *Lord.
v36 We will also bring the first of our sons to be born and the first of our cows and sheep. God’s law says that we should do this. We will bring them to the house of our God. We will bring them to the priests who serve there. v37 And we will bring the first of our grain and our gifts. We will bring the fruit of all our trees and wine and oil to the priests. We will bring these to the special rooms in the house of our God. We will bring one tenth (1/10th) of our crops to the *Levites. The *Levites will receive the *tithes in all the towns where we work.
v38 And a priest, who is a *descendant of Aaron will be with the *Levites. He will be with the *Levites when they receive the *tithes. Then the *Levites will bring a 10th part of the *tithes to the house of our God. They will bring it to the special rooms at the *temple.
v39 So the people of *Israel and the *Levites will bring the gifts of grain, wine and oil to the rooms. These special rooms contain the equipment for the *temple. The priests stay in these rooms when they are serving in the *temple. The singers and the people who guard the gates also stay there.
We promise that we will not neglect the house of our God.’
Verses 32-39
The people also promised to pay money each year. Each person would pay the same amount, as tax. They paid 4 grams (1/8 ounce) of silver. This money was to pay for all the work of the *temple. Then the people also promised to provide wood for the fire for the *sacrifices.
They also promised to bring the best of their crops, their fruit and their animals to God. They even promised to bring the first of their sons. But God’s law allowed them to pay a price instead (Exodus 13:11-16).
Also, the people promised to give one tenth (1/10th) of their crops. They gave all these things to the *Levites. Then the *Levites could serve God and take care of the *temple all the time. So they did not have to work in the fields. The *Levites also gave one 10th to the priests. Then the priests could serve God and they could lead the people to *worship God. So the priests also did not have to work in the fields.
The people promised that they would not neglect the house of God, in other words, the *temple.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NEHEMIAH 9 – ISRAEL CONFESSES THEIR SIN

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 9 – ISRAEL CONFESSES THEIR SIN

A. A repentant nation gathers.

1. (Nehemiah 9:1) An assembly of humble repentance.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.

a. The children of Israel were assembled: After the wall was completed, after the wall was working, after the people had heard and obeyed God’s Word, after the Holy Spirit was doing a significant work in the lives of people – now there is a scene of dramatic, humble repentance.

b. Assembled with fasting: Fasting showed their lowly, humble state. They considered themselves so poor before God that they had no food. They also wanted to say, “we are so troubled by our sin, food seems unimportant.”

c. In sackcloth: This was wearing rough fabric, like a burlap bag. Again, this was to show their complete poverty of spirit before God. They also wanted to say, “we are so troubled by our sin, the normal comforts of life are unimportant.”

d. With dust on their heads: This meant they took little handfuls of dirt and cast them on their heads. This was also to show their lowly state before God, and to say “we are so troubled by our sin, the normal comforts of life are unimportant.”

i. All of this reflects a humble attitude of heart – humble not only towards God, but also humble towards man. They did this publicly, and others would see them in this public state.

ii. Surely there were those among them who said, “I won’t humiliate myself and join in.” Others must have said, “I’ll do it, just so others can see that I’m spiritual too.” But there were many, if not most, who came to God with truly humble, repentant hearts.

2. (Nehemiah 9:2) An assembly to separate themselves.

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

a. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners: Those who were of the pure line of Israel came forth to confess the sin of their nation; they confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

b. Confessed their sins: This was important. They had to realize and admit their missing of God’s mark.

i. How do we sin? The English word sin comes from the idea “to miss the mark.” In an archery tournament, if one did not hit the target in the right place, they would say they “sinned.” A sin might miss the target by an inch, or it might miss it by ten feet – but it was still a sin either way. We sin when we do what God has told us not to do (telling us either in His Word, in our conscience, or through legitimate authority), or when we do not do what God has told to do (telling us in Word, conscience, or authority). Not all sin is the same, but all sin is sin.

c. And the iniquities of their fathers: This was also important, because they had to admit that not only they were sinners, but they came from sinful ancestors. This was especially important in Israel, where there was a tradition of glorifying their forefathers.

i. This does not mean there was some type of “generational curse” that had to be broken. God does not punish the children for their father’s sin, and it is evil to say He does (Ezekiel 18). We do recognize that those raised in an environment of sin may very well repeat those same sins, but not because they must – but because their environment made it an easy choice to make.

d. They stood and confessed: It should not seem strange that after such great victories, both with building and spiritually, that there was such humble repentance. This shows that repentance isn’t something we finish after coming to Jesus. It is something that grows as we grow closer to Jesus.

i. “Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “How often the discovery of something new in the loveliness of the Lord Jesus has brought with it the discovery of some new corruption in our own hearts. . . . God will never plant the seed of His life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of His Spirit has brought brokenness, where the soil has been watered with the tears of repentance as well as the tears of joy.” (Redpath)

iii. This great, humble gathering of God’s people took place only two days after the end of the joyful celebration of the feast of tabernacles. They had drawn close to God, and now He is drawing them even closer!

3. (Nehemiah 9:3) An assembly to hear God’s Word and to worship Him.

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.

a. They stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law: The humble repentance and confession of sin would have been an incomplete work if it were not for hearing the Word and worship. God does not show us our sin just so we will humbly confess it, but so that we can walk on in what is right before Him.

i. “In light of the previous chapter we may take it that the reading was no mere stream of words, but punctuated with explanatory comments and applications to the present situation.” (Kidner).

b. They confessed and worshipped the LORD their God: This brokenness of heart has led them to humbly come before God and hear His Word. A sure first step of revival is this brokenness of heart.

B. The prayer of repentance.

1. (Nehemiah 9:4-5 a) Those leading the congregation.

Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God. And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said:

a. Then Jeshua, Bani . . .: This mentions those Levites and leaders gathered to lead the people in their humble confession. It shouldn’t surprise us, or make us feel like failures, if we must be led into confession and repentance.

b. Stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice: Obviously, all eight of these men did not pray the following prayer at the same time. Perhaps it was written out and they took turns, perhaps it was spontaneously prayed in succession, or perhaps (and according to tradition), Ezra prayed this prayer.

i. The following prayer is thought to be the longest prayer in the Bible – and yet takes only six and one half minutes to say. Prayer does not need to be long to be glorious and effective.

2. (Nehemiah 9:5-6) Praise to the God of all creation.

Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LORD You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

a. You have made heaven: After the encouragement to praise, Ezra gave a reason to praise – because this is the great God who made it all. Looking at the glory of God’s creation gives us a reason to praise Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to trust Him.

b. The host of heaven worships You: God wants us to praise Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to trust Him – but He gives us good reason to. We sometimes want our own reasons, but God gives us plenty of His own reasons.

3. (Nehemiah 9:7-8) Praise to the God who chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants.

You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites; to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.

a. You have performed Your words: This says to God, “Lord, You promised this land to Abraham and his descendants, and now here we are! Your promise is indeed true.”

4. (Nehemiah 9:9-15) Praise to the God who delivered Israel from Egypt and provided for them in the wilderness.

You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the road which they should travel. You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant. You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, and brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, and told them to go in to possess the land which You had sworn to give them.

a. You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt: A second sure sign of revival (following brokenness of heart) is reflection on the goodness of God. When our pride is cast down, and our hearts humble before God, we can begin to see Him for who He is – and when we see that, we see how good God is.

5. (Nehemiah 9:16-17 a) The sinful response of man to God’s goodness.

But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage.

a. But they and our fathers: This was a terrible response to the great and good works of God on behalf of Israel. God had been so good to Israel, but they and our fathers acted proudly. Our sin is bad enough; but to consider we sin against a God who has only treated us well is far, far, worse.

c. Hardened their necks . . . refused to obey . . . were not mindful: This is a third sure sign of revival – recognition of our own sinfulness. When we humbly seek God, and see His goodness, we can’t help but next to notice our own sinfulness – the blackness of our sin stands out against the brightness of God’s purity and goodness.

6. (Nehemiah 9:17-21) God’s gracious reply to rebellious Israel.

But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them. Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, and said, ‘This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt,’ and worked great provocations, yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

a. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them: God’s gracious answer to the rebellion of Israel was glorious. Ready to pardon is especially wonderful, indicating that there is nothing keeping God from pardoning us except our refusal to come to Him through Jesus. He is ready to pardon, if we are ready to receive it.

b. Even when they made a molded calf for themselves: This was God’s gracious response to Israel – even after they made the golden calf and worshipped it, He still did not forsake them. He still provided the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, He still guided them by His spirit, He still fed them and gave them water. Together it all shows not how special Israel was, but how special God is.

c. You sustained them in the wilderness: We are often impressed at how patient God is with the sinner; how He somehow holds back His terrible judgment against those people who deserve it so badly. Yet it seems that His patience toward us is even greater, those who have received so much more from Him, but still act like Israel did.

i. “God’s mercy with a sinner is only equaled and perhaps outmatched by His patience with the saints, with you and me.” (Redpath)

7. (Nehemiah 9:22-31) The cycle of Israel’s relationship with God.

Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess. So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they wished. And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations. Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, and testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, “Which if a man does, he shall live by them.” And they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear. Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful.

a. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness: The cycle began with God showing His goodness to His people (You gave them kingdoms and nations) and with God’s people being blessed.

b. Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You: Then, in the time of comfort and abundance, Gods’ people turn from Him.

c. Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies: Then, God brings correction – a “wake-up call” to His people.

d. And in the time of their trouble . . . they cried out to You; and God delivers them: You heard from heaven . . . You gave them deliverers: As a result, God’s people then turn back to Him.

e. But after they had rest, they again did evil before You: Then, blessed and satisfied, God’s people again turn from Him, and the cycle continues.

f. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful: As the cycle continues, the motions of each cycle get deeper and deeper – but God doesn’t change.

i. We sometimes feel as if God has gotten tired of us; that we can’t ask him to forgive us for something He has forgiven us for so many times before. But God never gets tired of us, and never turns away the repentant heart.

8. (Nehemiah 9:32-37) A plea to God for intervention.

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day. However You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them. For they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works. Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here we are, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; and we are in great distress.

a. The great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Because of who God is, and because of who they are (rebellious and wicked), they needed God to do the work of saving them from their enemies.

i. Israel, at this time, was not an independent nation – they were a province of the Empire of Persia, and were under heavy Persian taxes and obligations. They ask God to deliver them once again from this oppression!

b. You are just in all that has befallen us: This gives a good description of what real confession is all about. It recognizes that God is right and we are wrong (but we have done wickedly). Confession is agreeing with God about both things.

i. “It is a tremendous moment in a Christians’ life when he can honestly look up into the face of God and say, ‘Yes, Lord, You are right and I am wrong,’ when he stops arguing with God, and drops his controversy. He says, ‘Lord, yes. I’ve got what I deserved in this situation. You are right; I am wrong.’ That is the thing for which God has been working in your life and mine from the very moment of our conversion.” (Redpath)

9. (Nehemiah 9:38) Conclusion: a point of decision.

And because of all this, we make a sure covenant, and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.

a. We make a sure covenant: Israel needed to come to this place, where knowing who God is, and knowing who they are, they come and make a covenant with God – even writing it down – to commit themselves to His ways.

b. We make a sure covenant, and write it: The fourth sure sign of revival – after brokenness of heart, after reflection on God’s goodness, after recognition of our sinfulness, is a renewal of our obedience. We come to a place of decision, so this work of God is not just a wonderful experience, but something that shapes our future.

i. God’s work in us often must come to a place of decision – where He wants us to make a stand for Him, and against some other things. If you need a point of decision, Alan Redpath gave these self-examination questions, to give an idea how:

What about my relationship with men?

Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am a better man than I really am? Is there the least suspicion of hypocrisy in my life? Am I honest in all my words and acts? Do I exaggerate?

Am I reliable? Can I be trusted? Do I confidentially pass on what was told to me in confidence? Do I grumble and complain in the church?

Am I jealous, impure, irritable, touchy, distrustful? Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying? Am I proud? Do I thank God I am not as other people? Is there anyone I fear, or dislike, or criticize, or resent? If so, what am I doing about it?

What about my devotion to God?

Does the Bible live to me? Do I give it time to speak to me? Do I go to bed in time and do I get up in time?

Am I enjoying my prayer life today? Did I enjoy it this morning? When I am involved in a problem in life, do I talk about it or pray about it?

Am I disobeying God in anything, or insisting upon doing something about which my conscience is very uneasy?

When did I last speak to someone else with the object of trying to win him for Christ?

Am I a slave to books, dress, friends, work, or what others think? How do I spend my spare time?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NEHEMIAH 8 – THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WORKING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD, BRINGS REVIVAL

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 8 – THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WORKING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD, BRINGS REVIVAL

J. Edwin Orr defined revival as: “The Spirit of God working through the Word of God, in the lives of the people of God.” This chapter is a great example of this.

A. Hearing God’s Word sparks revival.

1. (Nehemiah 8:1-3) The people gather and ask Ezra to read God’s Word.

Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

a. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law: This demonstrates that the Spirit of God was at work even before the reading of God’s Word. People do not gather together as one man for the things of God unless the Spirit of God has moved them, and they do not desire God’s Word unless the Spirit of God has moved them.

i. If you attend to the hearing of the Word of God, it is evidence the Spirit of God is working with you. But it is still important to cooperating with that work and to not resist it. We need to cooperate and flow with the work of God’s Spirit if the Word of God is going to do its full work in us.

b. The book of the Law of Moses: This refers to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). This was Israel’s instruction manual for how to walk before God.

c. Ezra the scribe . . . Ezra the priest: Ezra was the man responsible for having the temple rebuilt, and for returning God’s people to worship. Nehemiah, in all his work of rebuilding the walls, just carried on the work Ezra had begun.

i. We know Ezra cared about God’s Word, because he was a scribe – someone who copied the Bible by hand. We know he was a man devoted to God Himself, because he was a godly priest.

d. All who could hear with understanding: This shows us who needed to hear the Word of God. Everyone who could understand it needed to hear it.

e. Then he read from it in the open square: Ezra read God’s Word from daylight to mid-day. For some six hours he read God’s Word and the people listened.

i. This was a move of the Spirit of God. People who will be attentive to the Book of the Law for some six hours are people touched by the Spirit of God.

ii. From morning is literally, “from the light.” These people gathered from dawn to hear God’s Word. They were willing to sacrifice something to hear it – they wanted it, and like Jacob they would not let go until they had their blessing.

2. (Nehemiah 8:4-6) How God’s Word was received.

So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

a. So Ezra . . . stood on a platform: They had taken the time to build a wooden platform so the Word of God could be heard. They did practical things so God’s Word would have the greatest effect.

i. There are practical things we can do also to help God’s Word have the greatest effect; when a room is comfortable, low in distractions, and the preacher is clearly heard, it helps God’s Word have the greatest effect.

ii. But by far, the greatest preparation must happen in the heart. We must come, willing to forget about ourselves and our own agenda, and submit ourselves to God’s Word – not the preacher’s word, but God’s Word.

b. At his right hand . . . and at his left hand: On the right hand and left hand of Ezra were men who were supporting him in his ministry of teaching God’s Word. The ministry of God’s Word has the greatest effect when people can see men who are in support of it and obedience to it.

c. When he opened it, all the people stood up: They had a respect for God’s Word. They recognized it for what it was – the Word of God, not the word of man. They honored it.

i. This is evidence of two things. First, that the Spirit of God is at work; second, that something good is going to happen.

d. Then all the people answered: This work of the Word of God and the Spirit of God had three immediate results.

· The people thanked God (by saying Amen when Ezra blessed the Lord)

· They prayed (by lifting up their hands)

· They worshipped (by bowing down before Him)

i. Thanksgiving, prayer, and praise are all good measures of how the Spirit of God and Word of God are working in us.

3. (Nehemiah 8:7-8) God’s Word is presented so the people may understand.

Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

a. Helped the people to understand the Law: Special men were appointed to help the people understand God’s Word. After the reading they needed to understand it because if they did not understand it, it would do little good.

i. Understanding needs to be the first goal of any preacher or teacher. When I stand to teach God’s people, there are some things that I always need to remember:

· If you leave knowing five helpful hints to a better life, but do not have a greater understanding of God’s Word, I have failed.

· If you leave having been amused by humor, entertained by anecdotes, or captivated by dramatic stories, but do not have a greater understanding of God’s Word, I have failed.

· If you leave motivated to action, or praying a prayer, but it is not based on a greater understanding of God’s Word, I have failed.

· If you leave admiring me, but do not have a greater understanding of God’s Word, I have failed – and will be accountable before God for my failure.

b. Helped the people to understand the Law: It is important to see why God’s people need special help in understanding God’s Word.

i. First, because the things of God are spiritually discerned and not intellectually discerned. The Holy Spirit uses gifted teachers to bring spiritual discernment to us, helping us to understand what God’s Word says.

ii. Second, because it was first written in a different language, in a different culture, in a different place, and at a far distant time. Teachers help us understand it all in our own day.

iii. Third, because our minds are often slow to understand things that will convict our hearts. We often need it spelled right out to us.

iv. Understanding isn’t only necessary for those who haven’t become familiar with the Bible. Sometimes if we have heard it ten times before, we really don’t understand it for right now. When an art restorer cleans a painting, he reveals things that were always there, but the colors weren’t as bright and the details weren’t as clear, because they were obscured – then the real impact of the painter’s work can be seen.

c. They read distinctly: The preacher must speak in a clear, easy-to-understand way. His main goal is to make the people understand, not to impress or entertain them.

d. They gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading: The preacher must communicate the sense of the passage of Scripture, and not his own agenda or favorite personal topics. The people must leave understanding God’s Word better, not understanding the preacher’s opinions better.

B. Response to God’s Word makes revival flow.

1. (Nehemiah 8:9-11) The people respond with weeping.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”

a. All the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law: The Word of God was doing its intended work. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us two things the Word of God is profitable for: reproof and correction. Sometimes it hurts to be reproved and corrected, and these tears were evidence of some of that pain.

b. Do not mourn nor weep: Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites did not want the people to mourn, even though it is a good thing to be sad under the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Yet if the sense of conviction is greater than the sense that God is doing a good and holy work, then tears are not good.

i. Our knowledge of our sin should never be bigger than our knowledge of Jesus as our savior. We are great sinners, but He is a greater savior.

ii. Therefore, the joy of the Lord is your strength – even when you are being convicted of sin. When we are convicted of sin we know that God is doing a work in us, so we can be glad and take joy.

c. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength: The people felt sad, because they were aware of their own sin. But they could walk in joy because God was doing a great work. Our emotions are not beyond our control; we can do God’s will even when we don’t feel like it.

2. (Nehemiah 8:12) The people choose to rejoice.

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

a. They understood the words that were declared to them: They went away praising God, because understanding God’s Word brings such a sweet sense of joy.

3. (Nehemiah 8:13) The leaders gather for more study of God’s Word.

Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.

a. The heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites: Leaders have a special need to understand and walk in God’s Word. Their ignorance or disobedience affects far more than themselves – it affects everyone they have and influence on.

4. (Nehemiah 8:14-18) The people keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

a. And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses: This was beautiful, simple obedience. Their attitude was that God said it, so we will do it. Even though tradition did not tell them to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (it had not been done since the days of Joshua), but they relied on God’s Word, not on tradition.

b. That the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month: The Feast of Tabernacles was all about remembering how God had blessed and provided for Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus. They could see God’s blessing and provision for them right then, and it made something old seem brand new to them.

c. And there was very great gladness: Because of their great obedience to God’s Word, there was very great gladness. We often are deceived into thinking the path of gladness is in doing our own thing, but gladness and freedom come only through obedience.

d. Day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God: This revival began by the Spirit of God working through the Word of God; it continued that way also.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NEHEMIAH 7 – THE WALL GUARDED

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 7 – THE WALL GUARDED

A. Watchmen provided for the walls.

1. (Nehemiah 7:1-2) The appointment of Hanani and Hananiah.

Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

a. Then it was, when the wall was built: Everything was in order – both practically (the wall . . . I hung the doors . . . the gatekeepers) and spiritually (the singers . . . the Levites); the work was completed and set RIGHT.

i. The singers and the Levites were there to lead the PEOPLE in worship; the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at nice walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before.

ii. Every victory in our life should take us deeper into praise. If we are not praising God more, and more deeply, with each passing year, are we really having much victory? Maybe we are making it through tough times – but coming out more bitter and sour than ever. That is not God’s victory. His victory leads to a sweeter spirit and to deeper praise.

b. I gave the charge of Jerusalem: Nehemiah wasn’t in this for political glory. He had done a work, and now he could let it go. God would still use him in Jerusalem, but he knew it wasn’t his place to stay in authority.

c. Hanani: This was Nehemiah’s brother, was the one who first told him about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). His initiative and concern made him WELL qualified to govern.

d. He was a faithful man and feared God more than many: This described Hananiah, who was the co-leader of Jerusalem. This is what God needs in a man or a woman to use them greatly.

i. Many folks who aren’t all that gifted – they can’t sing, they can’t remember a bunch of Bible verses, they don’t have a knack for teaching, and so forth – can still be used greatly of God if they are faithful and fear God. On the other hand, many terribly gifted PEOPLE may always be frustrated in serving God, if they are not faithful and fearing God.

3. (Nehemiah 7:3) A watch set on the walls.

And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”

a. Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard: A tremendous victory had been won – the walls were rebuilt. Yet, the walls would not protect themselves. Diligent watchmen must be appointed, and the walls had to be guarded.

i. The gates were to be opened late and closed early – it was a time for high security.

b. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem: In the Christian life, often a victory is won and later lost because there was no guard. An enemy may come in because we are not watching. Walls can be climbed if there is no one there to stop the enemy, but an enemy is easily turned back from a wall by a guard.

B. List of the returned families.

1. (4-5) The need to develop Jerusalem.

Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt. Then my God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:

a. The people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt: Now that the walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah still wanted to see how he can be a blessing to the people of God and the city of God. He noticed that the population was low and there were many abandoned houses.

b. Then God put it into my heart: Nehemiah wanted Jerusalem to grow and prosper. But before that could happen he must first know who he had already. Just as when he toured the broken down walls in 2:11-16, he needed to know the problem well. So, he took a census and looked at the registry first written by Ezra in Ezra 2:1-70.

2. (6-73) The citizens of Jerusalem who returned from the Babylonian captivity.

These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city. Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two; the sons of Pahath-Moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen; the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five; the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty; the sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight; the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two; the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven; the sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven; the sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five; the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight; the sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four; the sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve; the sons of Gibeon, ninety-five; the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight; the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight; the men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two; the men of Kirjath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three; the men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one; the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two; the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three; the men of the other Nebo, fifty-two; the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty; the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five; the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one; the sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty. The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three; the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two; the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven; the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen. The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the sons of Hodevah, seventy-four. The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight. The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight. The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Salmai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephishesim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Tamah, the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha. The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, and the sons of Amon. All the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred and ninety-two. And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father’s house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two; and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim. Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers. Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five, their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty. And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments. Some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments. So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.

a. These are the people . . . who returned to Jerusalem and Judah: This list was important because each of these people were important to God, in that they did what so few of their fellow Jews did – they took the trouble to return back to the promised land after they had already set down roots for seventy years in the Babylonian empire.

i. These are people who had a pioneer spirit; they were willing to endure hardship and discomfort, because they had a call from God that was more important than their own comfort. Life was easier in Babylon, but it was better in Jerusalem!

b. These are the people: Since only about 2% of the Jews who were carried away into exile by the Babylonians came back, these one who did have the pioneer spirit are worthy of mention – and they are mentioned twice in God’s eternal word (Nehemiah 7 :Here and in Ezra 2).

i. It would be wonderful to have your name in the Bible (Nehemiah 7 :at least in a positive light). Though that privilege is too late for us, God does have a book of remembrance (Nehemiah 7 :Nehemiah 3:16), and surely the names of God’s faithful pioneers will be in it.

ii. In this list several things were important.

· Who the people were was important (Nehemiah 7 :specific names were mentioned).

· What families they came from was important (Nehemiah 7 :many family heads are named).

· Their gifts to support the work were important (Nehemiah 7 :they are specifically listed towards the end of the chapter).

c. These sought their listing among those who were REGISTERED by genealogy, but it was not found: Some could not be priests until their lineage was determined. In the Old Testament, one could not be a priest unless it was established that they descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, and the first high priest over Israel.

d. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities: This list flows beautifully after the completion of the work, because it reminds us that the work was really all about these PEOPLE.

i. The walls weren’t all that important; what was important was the benefit the walls could have in the lives of God’s people (Nehemiah 7 :enabling them to live in peace and security).

ii. The building work wasn’t all that important; what was important was the benefit the building work had in the lives of God’s people (Nehemiah 7 :teaching them to work hard, work together, work through adversity and attack, and work till the job is done).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NEHEMIAH 6 – THE WALLS COMPLETED

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 6 – THE WALLS COMPLETED

A. Nehemiah is attacked in three phases.

1. (Nehemiah 6:1-4) The snare of the enemy’s friendship.

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

a. Our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall: The wall was almost finished – the gaps were closed, but the gates were not yet finished. For the enemies of Nehemiah and the work of God, this was a “now-or-never” time. If they didn’t do something immediately to stop the work, the walls will be COMPLETELYfinished.

b. Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono: At this time, Sanballat and Geshem tried to arrange a meeting with Nehemiah – by appearances, a friendly meeting, perhaps even a reconciliation or a vacation. Their invitation may have had the sense of a break for a few days of rest and relaxation out on the plain of Ono.

c. But they thought to do me harm: Nehemiah was equipped to see through the outward appearance, and to understand what Sanballat’s friendly offer was all about.

i. “Whether you be a pastor or a teacher or evangelist or Sunday school leader, or whatever your position my be in Christian leadership, let me say that there will always be those who are friendly to your face, but you plan your downfall behind your back. Beware of the fawning, flattering Christian who is always fluttering around you, and who behind your back will be the first to rejoice when you go down.” (Redpath)

d. But they thought to do me harm: Nehemiah was equipped with discernment.

i. Discernment is the ability to judge matters according to God’s view of them, and not according to their outward appearance. We are often deceived by outward appearances; For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7).

ii. Many PEOPLE confuse being discerning with being negative or cynical; but discernment is just as able to see the good where other might miss it as it is at seeing bad where others might see good according to the outward appearance.

iii. Christians today suffer a great deal because they lack discernment. They follow leaders and teachers who give a good appearance, but don’t walk in the nature of Jesus. They accept things BLINDLY because it looks good or sounds good, without carefully judging it against the whole counsel of God’s Word. We might even picture Nehemiah going to the Word of God, and equipping himself with discernment. Perhaps he read Proverbs 27:6 : Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. That passage alone would remind him to not look to outward appearances, but to judge soberly.

iv. How can we develop discernment? First, if you want to see things as God sees them, get to know His Word. Second, discernment comes through spiritual maturity; Hebrews 5:12-14 says that discernment is something spiritual babies don’t have (a baby will stick anything in his mouth). Third, discernment can be given as a gift from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). Seek Him for it.

v. Without discernment, we can think a dangerous invitation from an enemy is really an offer of reconciliation. We can think presumption is faith. We can think our own noble desires are God’s promises. We can think God is saying “now” or “later” when He is really saying “later” or “now.” We can think someone is a great guy or a spiritual leader when they are really doing damage to God’s people.

e. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you? Nehemiah, using discernment will not only escape their trap; he won’t even be distracted from his work.

i. If the enemy can distract God’s people, then he has won; if we can start majoring on minors, and minoring on majors, we’ve lost our effectiveness for the work of the LORD.

ii. Nehemiah was persistent in his discernment; the request came four times, and each time Nehemiah stood fast and didn’t fall for it.

f. I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you? Discernment gave Nehemiah focus; he knew what God wanted him to be doing and he did it. He wouldn’t be sidetracked by things that sounded good, but weren’t of the LORD for him.

i. Anyone doing a work for God must contend with a hundred different noble causes, and a hundred things that might look good – and be good – but they are not what they are called to do at that time. Discernment gives us focus.

2. (Nehemiah 6:5-9) The subtlety of the enemy’s slander.

Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.” For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.” Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

a. It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says: Sanballat’s slander began the way many verbal attacks do, as a report of what others have reportedly said.

i. Vague accusations often sound like “Everyone is talking about” or, “A number of people are saying.” Such vague words can very easily give the wrong impression.

ii. What Sanballat accused Nehemiah of was false. If a thousand nations reported it, it would not make it true. A popular lie may be more dangerous, but it is not more true because it is popular.

b. The Jews plan to rebel . . . that you may be their king . . . you have also appointed prophets to proclaim: These lies probably outraged Nehemiah. He had worked hard and trusted God greatly so this work would be done with the blessing of the king; and he had embraced great personal sacrifice to demonstrate that he was not in this for himself. And Nehemiah would never dream of going to “rent a prophet”! Now he is accused of the very things he has worked so hard to not fall into!

i. We may as well accept it: the devil knows our hot buttons. He knows those lies, those accusations, which really get to you – and he knows how to throw them in your face. We can’t stop it, so we have to learn how to deal with it!

c. These matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. Now Sanballat made a plain threat. Nehemiah wouldn’t be deceived into coming to this meeting (he had too much discernment for that); so now he tried slander against Nehemiah.

d. You invent them in your own heart: Nehemiah replied by calmly and straightforwardly telling Sanballat that he was a liar, and by carrying on with the work.

i. Nehemiah did not mount an elaborate defense, trying to prove Sanballat wrong point by point. He wasn’t going to waste his time. You don’t satisfy men like Sanballat with facts, explanations, and evidence. You satisfy them by giving in to their demands, and Nehemiah would not!

ii. Sanballat would not be defeated by being told he was a liar. He didn’t care if the whole world thought he was a liar, if he could only cause the work would stop. But Nehemiah was steadfast!

e. They are trying to make us afraid: Nehemiah had the discernment to see the slander strategy was all about fear, and he wouldn’t give into it. No enemy can make us afraid; all they can do is try to make us choose fear – but it is up to us to choose it.

i. Many people live paralyzed by the fear of what others are saying about them, or what they might say about them. Instead, we should forget about it in these situations. People will talk anyway and there is little you can do about it, other than be determined that you will not make you afraid.

ii. One of Benjamin Franklin’s proverbs from Poor Richard’s Almanac wisely says: “Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho’ within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?”

iii. “No man can lead a work of God if he allows himself to be governed by what other people think. He is to secure help, fellowship, prayer, advice, and he is foolish not to take it; but if his ultimate decisions are based on popular opinion he is going to fail.” (Redpath)

f. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands: We must do what Nehemiah did – pray for God’s strength, His power in our lives. We can overcome the slander and fear of our enemies in our own strength. It will be said, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.

3. (Nehemiah 6:10-14) The scandal of the enemy’s religion.

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

a. Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah: This man Shemaiah was said to be a prophet (he pronounced this prophecy), but he was not. Shemaiah offered Nehemiah a safe haven in the temple. The idea was that though Nehemiah was said to be threatened, he could find refuge in the temple.

i. It sure sounds reasonable – and one might even take some Scripture to support it: Psalms 61:4 says, I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Nehemiah needed discernment now more than ever.

b. Should a man such as I flee? Nehemiah, knowing the heart of God as it is revealed in the whole counsel of God’s Word, had discernment. Shemaiah tried to create fear in Nehemiah, and tried to get him to disobey God based on this fear.

i. Only priests were allowed in the temple, and Nehemiah was not a priest. He would have been disobeying God if he had done what Shemaiah suggested. In 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah – who was not a priest – went into the temple, and God instantly struck him with leprosy.

ii. “He seeks to persuade Nehemiah into an easy-going, compromising religion that will shirk persecution, that will carry no cross, and that is governed by fear of the opinions of other people.” (Redpath)

c. Let us meet together in the house of God: Shemaiah knew how to use religious talk, but it was still a trap. If Nehemiah believed Shemaiah’s religious talk, he would sin and gives others something to find fault with and discredit him with.

d. And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in! Nehemiah stood brave against this religious deception. In his commitment to obedience, God revealed to him the heart of Shemaiah – who was no true prophet. Instead, he was on Sanballat’s payroll.

e. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat: Best of all, instead of lashing out against Shemaiah and his fellow false-religionists, he simply committed these wicked men – and the situation – to God. If God could take good care of Nehemiah, then He could take also take care of Shemaiah according to divine wisdom.

i. Nehemiah’s response to the three-fold attack of pretended friendship, slander, and false religion makes us admire him as a leader. But we can love and admire Jesus far more.

ii. “Come down to the plain of Ono,” they said to Nehemiah. But they said to Jesus, “come down from the cross.” But Jesus was doing a great work – the greatest work – on the cross, and would not be stopped.

ii. They slandered Nehemiah, but he didn’t defend Himself. He spoke the truth and trusted in God. Jesus was also slandered, and did not debate His critics – He spoke the truth and trusted in His Father in heaven.

iii. A false prophet offered Nehemiah an easy way out – but it was a way of fear and disobedience. Nehemiah would have none of it. Jesus was also offered a way out of the cross from Satan – just worship Satan, and all the kingdoms of the world would be delivered to Him. But Jesus would have none of it.

B. Completion of the wall.

1. (Nehemiah 6:15-16) The wall is completed in 52 days.

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

a. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days: The amount of time it took to finish the job was remarkably short. The walls were in ruins for more than 100 years, and then they were set right in a period of only 52 days.

i. Why wasn’t the job done in the more than 100 years before? It wasn’t that no one saw the problem; it wasn’t that walls were not wanted. Many people saw broken walls, knew how they ruined the lives of the people of Jerusalem, but no one got past the place of just wishing there were walls.

ii. Finally, there came a man who did more than wish Jerusalem had walls; he grieved, he ached, he prayed, he planned, he asked boldly, he went, he fought, he encouraged, he stood strong, he saw the job through to completion. But he also had people around him with the same kind of heart.

iii. We have such small ideas of how God can use us. God used a man named Nehemiah to set right a 100-year-old problem in less and two months – and the same God sits on a throne in heaven and works through you today.

b. In fifty-two days: At the beginning, when he saw the need, Nehemiah prayed for four months (the difference in time between Nehemiah 1:1; Neh_2:1). But the work itself took less than two months. Nehemiah worked longer in prayer than they needed to work to do the job.

i. This shows the spiritual battle was actually greater than the material battle. We are often told this, but it can be hard to believe!

c. And all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes: When the wall was finished, their enemies were very disheartened. It is a glorious thing to dishearten the enemies of God’s people and to let them be discouraged for a while.

i. The battles were hard; the work was big; there were challenges from within and without. But the job was now finished, and victory was sweet.

d. They perceived that this work was done by our God: Their enemies were disheartened not just because the wall was finished, but especially because it was evident that God did the work. When something has the fingerprints of God on it, all our enemies notice it also.

i. The enemy is only disheartened when God does the work. If it is the product of man’s efforts, they just laugh. Men might be fooled, and see a work of man and be impressed, but angel in heaven and every demon in hell know what has been done by man and what has been done by God.

ii. A strong, SECURE PEOPLE of Jerusalem were a witness to surrounding nations. Many of us live Christian lives that no one takes notice of, because our walls are broken down. Let the LORD do a building work, and others will notice.

2. (Nehemiah 6:17-19) The work is finished despite some who were friends with the enemy Tobiah.

Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

a. Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah: Tobiah was the man who had opposed the rebuilding work with Sanballat. In Nehemiah 2:10 he was disturbed that Nehemiah came to rebuild the walls. In Nehemiah 2:19; Neh_4:3 he mocked Nehemiah’s work. In Nehemiah 4:7 he was angry that the work was being done. In Nehemiah 6:1 he was one of the men who tried to get Nehemiah to stop the work, and come to the plain of Ono where he could be attacked.

b. For many in Judah were pledged to him: Yet, the nobles of Judah had no trouble being friends to such a man – because he had family ties to many in the tribe of Judah. In fact, they tried to recommend him to Nehemiah (they reported his good deeds before me).

i. These Jewish brothers of Nehemiah could not see what was so plain to Nehemiah. Perhaps they did not see much of the evil work of Tobiah first-hand, so they had a hard time believing it. We imagine them saying, “He’s always been nice to us; look at all the good he has done.”

ii. It is also possible they just didn’t have the shepherd’s heart, and shepherd’s eyes Nehemiah had. Nehemiah was CALLED OF GOD to protect God’s people and God’s work; he was watching and on guard in a way that others were not.

iii. Also, in the case of these nobles, there was self-interest at work. They had financial dealings with Tobiah they wanted to protect. “His numerous binding agreements (pledged to him) within the Jewish community were probably trading contracts, facilitated by marriage connections.” (Kidner)

c. They reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him: Undoubtedly, they saw Nehemiah as the bad guy. They figured Tobiah’s deeds were good, and Nehemiah spoke some strong words against Tobiah (in Nehemiah 4:4, Nehemiah prays the evil Tobiah planned be turned back upon him, and that he be captured and carried away).

i. Nehemiah had to be willing to be seen as the bad guy in order to do what is right by the people of God. He could see what the nobles of Judah could not. He knew that Tobiah’s good deeds were not the whole story – all the while, Tobiah was sending frightening letters to Nehemiah. Those letter were not one of Tobiah’s good deeds.

ii. “Tobiah’s friends acted as a Fifth Column. They attempted both to propagandize on behalf of Tobiah and to act as an intelligence system for him. Tobiah himself kept on trying to frighten Nehemiah.” (Yamauchi)

d. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me: Nehemiah wrote no more about this situation. He wasn’t going to demand the nobles change their minds about Tobiah; but he wasn’t going to deny what he knew to be true about Tobiah either. He seems willing to let it go and let God take care of it.

i. Nehemiah had a work to do, and that work was not really going out to attack PEOPLE like Tobiah. He could leave the Tobiahs alone, as long as they weren’t attacking the work of God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NEHEMIAH 5 – THE WORK IS THREATENED INTERNALLY

Unknown

NEHEMIAH 5 – THE WORK IS THREATENED INTERNALLY

A. Financial problems threaten the work.

1. (Nehemiah 5:1) A great outcry of the PEOPLE stops the work of rebuilding the wall.

And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.

a. And there was: Chapter four ended on a note of great victory. The people of God were doing the work of God, and they did it despite all obstacles. They worked with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, and they would not let their enemies stop them. But in this section of chapter five, there is no mention of working on the wall, indicting that the work had stopped.

b. Against their Jewish brethren: The work stopped because of strife among God’s people. The enemy could not stop the work of God by direct attack, but the work stopped when God’s people weren’t unified and working together.

i. A great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren meant one group fought against another. When God’s people fight one another they certainly are neither fighting the real enemy nor getting God’s work done.

2. (Nehemiah 5:2-5) The reason for strife among God’s people: MONEY PROBLEMS.

For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.” There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.” There were also those who said, “We have BORROWED MONEY for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and INDEED we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

a. We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live: Nehemiah is not primarily a book about money; it is a book about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and bringing God’s people into a place of peace, security, and blessing. Yet MONEY PROBLEMS directly affected the rebuilding work.

i. Most the time money problems affect a building project because there isn’t enough money to do the work. But the JOB of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem seems to have been paid for by the king of Persia, who provided the necessary building materials for Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:8) and sent him with royal guards (Nehemiah 1:9).

ii. Nehemiah’s money problems were different; they were money problems among the people that harmed the unity among the people of God.

b. Let us get grain for them, that we may eat: People had money problems because they worked hard on the walls and did not spend the same time on providing for the needs of their household.

i. If you want to spend much time directly ministering to the needs of God’s people and in spreading the gospel, in most cases it will affect your ability to provide. Ministry takes time, and time spent on ministry is time you aren’t making money. If one gets to the place where the ministry is your way of making a living, one should be used to not MAKING A LOT OF MONEY – or the transition will be rather difficult.

c. Because of the famine: People had money problems because there was a famine, which made food more expensive. It was so expensive that some mortgaged their property to provide food.

i. A famine is no one’s fault; many of the financial problems people face are really not the fault of anyone. Yet there may be fault in how the problems are addressed.

d. For the king’s tax: People had MONEY PROBLEMS because the government kept taxing them even though they weren’t working as much and even though the cost of living went up.

i. These taxes were not the fault of those who were hurt by them. Neither Nehemiah nor the people acted as if these taxes were unfair, yet they were still a hardship.

e. We have borrowed money . . . INDEED we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves: People had financial problems because the LOANS they had taken out to live cost interest, and some were in default. Therefore some had to give their children as servants to their lenders to pay off the debt.

i. As will be indicated later (Nehemiah 5:11, the hundredth part), the rich were taking advantage of the crisis to MAKE MONEY off the poor, charging 12% interest a year.

ii. It isn’t unusual for MONEY PROBLEMS to create strife and completely disrupt what God wants to do. If Nehemiah and his people did not find a way to do what God wanted them to do with their money and money problems, the work of God would be stopped – without a single arrow being fired by the enemies of God.

ii. We sometimes want to separate what we do with our money from our walk with God. This is a huge deception from Satan. Buying a house is a spiritual decision, not just a financial one. Taking a job, choosing a CAREER, deciding how much money you should make – all these are matters that will directly affect your walk with God, both now and in the future.

iii. If we don’t handle our money with the right heart, and make financial decisions with an eye to eternity, we can make mistakes that will affect the work of God in our lives for years and years.

iv. Essential to handling our money with the right heart before God is being a giver. Being a giver to the work of the Lord helps us always remember that God and His kingdom come first. The New Testament tells us our giving should be regular, thoughtful, proportional, and private (1 Corinthians 16:1-4); that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9).

v. Money problems are rarely only money problems. We often think if we just had more money, our money problems would go away. It isn’t true – and that’s a proven fact, just by looking at the lives of many of those that win a lottery or come into unexpected riches. If they had money problems before – if they didn’t know how to handle their money, and glorify God with it – they won’t know after. The same problems will soon show up again, often times bigger than ever.

3. (Nehemiah 5:6) Nehemiah’s immediate reaction: anger.

And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.

a. And I became very angry: Nehemiah became angry because these money problems were caused, in part, because of the greed of those who wanted to make a profit off of the money troubles of others, something Moses’ law clearly said was wrong (Exodus 22:25).

b. I became very angry when I heard their outcry: Nehemiah became angry because these MONEY PROBLEMS led to a lack of unity among the people of God. This unity that was more precious than any amount of money.

c. I heard their outcry and these words: No mention was made of the work on the walls. Nehemiah got angry because these MONEY PROBLEMS stopped the work of the LORD in rebuilding the walls. It must have frustrated him that they could stand so strong against an enemy, but fall so quickly to these kinds of problems.

4. (Nehemiah 5:7-11) Nehemiah’s wise response: confronting those who were in the wrong.

After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now INDEED, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”

a. After serious thought: This was great leadership from Nehemiah. He was a man passionate enough to get angry; but wise enough to not act until he had considered the matter carefully.

b. I rebuked the nobles and the rulers: Nehemiah was no coward. When people were in the wrong, he confronted them. He told the truth, and from the result (Nehemiah 5:12-13), we can judge that he must have told the truth in love.

i. Nehemiah teaches us that the way a leader should approach problems is head on.

c. Each of you is exacting usury from his brother: Usury is interest that is either too high or should not be charged at all. The Bible says it is wrong to make money off of someone’s financial need; if someone NEEDS MONEY FOR the most basic needs of life, they should be given money, not loaned it at interest.

i. Of course, LOANING MONEY at interest is permitted for things that are not absolute necessities. Yet God’s people must always use great wisdom and self-control in borrowing money.

d. We have redeemed our Jewish brethren: Nehemiah noted that when Judah was conquered, many Jews were sold as slaves to foreigners and many of than had been bought out of slavery by other Jews. Because of this, it was very wrong to have Jews being sold into slavery to other Jews because they couldn’t pay off high-interest LOANS.

e. Should you not walk in the fear of our God? This is where many business deals go wrong before God, because there is no regard for God’s will or wisdom. The only concern is if a deal can be made, and if money will come from it; not if it is right or wrong.

f. Restore now to them, even this day: Nehemiah was not asking the nobles and the rulers to just feel bad, or to just stop what they were doing; they had to set the wrong they had done RIGHT. If money had be charged unfairly or collateral was taken unfairly, it had to be set right.

5. (Nehemiah 5:12-13) The response of the rulers and nobles who had done wrong.

So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the PEOPLE did according to this promise.

a. We will restore it: This was good. Nehemiah wisely told the truth in love, confronting these brothers; and they received the rebuke, doing the right thing and admitting they had been wrong.

i. Their teachable, correctable spirit was impressive; too few are willing to admit they are wrong and to do what is right – especially if money is involved.

b. So may God shake out each man . . . who does not perform this promise: Nehemiah wisely knew their words were not enough. Their actions had to be followed through with real action – and it was: the people did according to this promise.

i. With the oaths, and public record of all this, Nehemiah assures accountability – something we often need to help us do what our spirit is willing to do, but our flesh is weak to do! Perhaps accountability is a missing step in dealing with an area where you are having a hard time doing what is right.

B. Nehemiah’s godly example.

1. (Nehemiah 5:14-16) Nehemiah did not tax the people.

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. INDEED, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

a. Neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions: Nehemiah was a great example of putting the work of God ahead of his own personal interest. He certainly had the right to tax the people for his support (others had done it before him), but he didn’t take that right because it wouldn’t help the work of God.

i. The apostle Paul is another great example of someone who had the right to be supported, but didn’t take that right because it was better for the cause of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:1-15).

ii. Should ministers be supported today? It is all a question of what is better for the cause of the gospel. If it is better for a minister to be able to devote himself full time to the care and teaching of God’s people, he should be supported. If it is better for him not to be supported that way, he shouldn’t. There’s something wrong with a minister who will only minister to God’s people if the money is right.

b. Because of the fear of God: Nehemiah did what was RIGHT before God, not what was “right” for his own cares and concerns – because he knew he would have to answer to God.

c. I did not do so, because of the fear of God: Nehemiah could say this because it didn’t matter to him what others did, how the crowd acted, what the rest of the world thought. He lived by another standard. We should have even better standard than Nehemiah did, and we should say, when confronted by the sin this world takes for granted, I did not do so, because of the love of Jesus.

2. (Nehemiah 5:17-18) Nehemiah’s example of generosity.

And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this PEOPLE.

a. And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers: Nehemiah not only did not take when he could have; he also gave when he didn’t have to. He received a lot of food from the king’s provisions, which he could have sold for his own profit. Instead, he gave them away to be the example of generosity – feeding as many as 150 people regularly.

b. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions: Nehemiah could have taken more (the governor’s provisions), but he didn’t. Therefore, Nehemiah was an example for what he did not take and for what he did not keep.

c. Because the bondage was heavy on this people: Nehemiah, in his own life, lived the way he told the nobles and rulers to live – to not take personal advantage of another’s need. He did what every godly leader must do: he never expected more of his followers than he expected of himself.

3. (Nehemiah 5:19) Nehemiah’s prayer, asking God to remember his good deeds.

Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

a. Remember me, my God: Some think that Nehemiah was wrong for saying all the good things he did. Jesus clearly taught us that our good works must not be done to show others how spiritual we are.

i. Matthew 6:1-4 : Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

b. Remember me, my God, for good: But in his prayer, Nehemiah did not look for praise from man – but from God. In fact, Nehemiah probably originally intended that no one else see all or part of this book, because it was written as a diary.

i. In our own private time with the LORD, it is entirely appropriate – and RIGHT- to say, “Remember me, my God, for good” – to have confidence in our heavenly reward, instead of the praise of men.

c. According to all that I have done for this PEOPLE: We should be glad that God took this personal diary of Nehemiah and gave it to us. It shows us that a leader must first lead by example, and that Nehemiah could tell other to do what was right here because his own walk was right. His public words and private actions said the same thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized