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01 January 18, 2015, Nehemiah 5.1-13, Justice In God's Community


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01 January 18, 2015, Nehemiah 5.1-13, Justice In God's Community

  1. 1. Nehemiah 5: 1-13 Justice in God’s Community January 18, 2015 First Baptist Church Jackson, Mississippi USA
  2. 2. January MemoryVerse: Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
  3. 3. What’s the number one thing?
  4. 4. The Glory of God!
  5. 5. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  6. 6. We have three challenges that the Education Department has placed before us in 2015:
  7. 7. Three challenges for 2015 1) Memorize the monthly memory verse 2) Share your faith with one person each month and 3) Ask Sunday School class members to share how they have seen God at work during the week.
  8. 8. It ought to be necessary for us to have to wait in line to do the third challenge, however, sometimes waiting in line is just not necessary!
  9. 9. Nehemiah 5:1-13 Bible Exposition Commentary OldTestament BE Series WarrenW. Wiersbe
  10. 10. 444 BC
  11. 11. Nehemiah 5:1-2 NKJV 1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. 2 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.”
  12. 12. Stop!Thief! When Satan fails in his attacks from the outside, he often begins to attack from within; and one of his favorite weapons is selfishness.
  13. 13.
  14. 14. If Satan can get us to think only about ourselves and what we want, then he will win the victory before we realize that he is even at work.
  15. 15. Selfishness means putting myself at the center of everything & insisting on getting what I want when I want it.
  16. 16. It means exploiting others and taking advantage of them just so I can have my own way.
  17. 17. Thomas Merton said: "To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell."
  18. 18. Nehemiah chapter 5 reveals to us the depths of sin in the human heart and how each of us must learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  19. 19. This moving drama has three acts: 1. A great cry (Nehemiah 5:1-5) 2. A great assembly (Neh. 5:6-13) 3. A great example (Neh. 5:14-19)
  20. 20. 1. A great cry (Nehemiah 5:1-5) In the midst of a "great work" (4:19) for a "great God" (1:5), a "great cry" (5:1) was heard among the Jews. They were not crying out against the Samaritans, the Ammonites, or the Arabs, but against their own people!
  21. 21. Jew was exploiting Jew, and the economic situation had become so desperate that even the wives (who usually kept silent) were joining in the protest.
  22. 22. Four different groups of people were involved in this crisis. First, as we have already seen, there were the people who needed food but who owned no land (v. 2). Then, in verses 3-5, are the others.
  23. 23. Nehemiah 5:3-5 NKJV 3There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”
  24. 24. 4There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards.
  25. 25. 5Yet 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.” Nehemiah 5:2-5 NKJV
  26. 26. The population was increasing; there was a famine (v. 3); and the people were hungry. These people could not help themselves so they cried out to Nehemiah for help.
  27. 27. The second group was composed of landowners who had mortgaged their property in order to buy food (v. 3). Apparently inflation was on the rise, and prices were going higher.
  28. 28. The combination of debt and inflation is enough to wipe out a person's equity very quickly.
  29. 29. The third group complained because the taxes were too high, and they were forced to borrow money to pay them (v. 4). • In order to borrow the money, they had to give security; and this meant eventually losing their property.
  30. 30. The Persian king received a fortune in annual tribute, very little of which ever benefited the local provinces. The taxes did not support local services; they only supported the king.
  31. 31. The fourth group was made up of wealthy Jews who were exploiting their own brothers and sisters by loaning them money and taking their lands and their children for collateral (Lev. 25:39-40).
  32. 32. Parents of Jewish boys and girls had to choose between starvation or servitude for their children! • It was not unlawful for Jews to loan money to one another, but they were not to act like money lenders and charge interest (Deut. 23:19-20).
  33. 33. They were to treat one another with love even in the matter of taking security (24:10-13; Exodus 22:25-27) or making a brother a servant (Leviticus 25:35-46).
  34. 34. Both the people and the land belonged to the Lord, and He would not have anybody using either one for personal gain.
  35. 35. One reason for the "Year of Jubilee" (Leviticus 25) was to balance the economic system in Israel so that the rich could not get richer as the poor became poorer.
  36. 36. All debts had to be forgiven in the fiftieth year, all land restored to its original owners, and all prisoners and all servants set free.
  37. 37. These wealthy businessmen were selfishly exploiting the poor in order to make themselves rich. They were using their power to rob some and to put others into bondage.
  38. 38. Greed was one of the sins the prophets had denounced before the Babylonian Captivity (Isa. 56:9-12; Jer. 22:13-19; Amos 2:6-7; 5:11-12).
  39. 39. God has a special concern for the poor and will not hold those guiltless who take advantage of them.
  40. 40. This moving drama has three acts: 1. A great cry (Nehemiah 5:1-5) 2. A great assembly (Neh. 5:6-13) 3. A great example (Neh. 5:14-19)
  41. 41. Nehemiah 5:6-13 NKJV 6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.
  42. 42. 7 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.
  43. 43. 8 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.
  44. 44. 9Then 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?
  45. 45. 10 I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury!
  46. 46. 11 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.”
  47. 47. 12 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.
  48. 48. 13Then I shook out the fold of my garmentand 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. Nehemiah 5:6-13 NKJV
  49. 49. 2. A great assembly (Neh. 5:6-13) It is one thing to confront foreign enemies and quite something else to deal with your own people when they fight one another.
  50. 50. Young Moses learned that it was easier to dispose of an Egyptian master than to reconcile two Jewish brothers (Exodus 2:11-15). Nehemiah showed true leadership in his responses to the problem.
  51. 51. Anger (Nehemiah 5:6). This was not the flaring up of a sinful temper but the expression of righteous indignation at the way the businessmen were oppressing their own brothers and sisters.
  52. 52. "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26, also see Psalm 4:4). • Nehemiah was not a politician who asked, "What is popular?" or a diplomat who asked, "What is safe?" but a true leader who asked, "What is right?"
  53. 53. His was a holy anger against sin, and he knew he had the Law of God behind him. • Moses expressed this kind of holy anger when he broke the stone tables of Law (Ex. 32), and so did Jesus when He saw the hardening of the Pharisees' hearts (Mark 3:5).
  54. 54. It is important to note that the building of the wall did not create these problems; it revealed them. • Often when a church enters into a building program, all sorts of problems start to surface that people didn't even know were there.
  55. 55. A building program is a demanding thing that tests our faith, our patience, and our priorities; and while it brings out the best in some people, it can often bring out the worst in others.
  56. 56. Consultation (Neh 5:7). "I consulted with myself" means literally "My heart consulted within me" or you could call it: "putting my heads together."
  57. 57. Actually, Nehemiah put his heart and his head together as he pondered the problem and sought God's direction. He got control of his feelings and his thoughts so that he could give constructive leadership to the people.
  58. 58. "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32, NKJV). • If a leader can't control himself, he will never be successful in controlling others.
  59. 59.
  60. 60. Nehemiah decided to call a great assembly (Nehemiah 5:7) and publicly confront the people whose selfishness had created this difficult and painful situation. See Galatians 2:14 -
  61. 61.
  62. 62. Galatians 2:14 NKJV 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, …
  63. 63. Theirs was a grievous public sin, involving the whole nation; and it demanded public rebuke and repentance.
  64. 64. Rebuke (Neh. 5:7-11). Nehemiah's rebuke of the exploiters consisted of six different appeals. First, he appealed to their love by reminding them that they were robbing their own fellow Jews, not the Gentiles (v. 7).
  65. 65. The word "brother" is used four times in this speech. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)
  66. 66. "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me," Abraham said to Lot, "for we are brothers" (Genesis 13:8, NIV).
  67. 67. His appeal was based solidly on the Word of God, for the Law of Moses forbade Jews to exact interest from one another.
  68. 68. The Jewish nation went into Babylonian Captivity an agricultural people, but some of them came out a mercantile people, having learned how to use money to make money. • They went from being sheep keepers to being shop keepers.
  69. 69. There is certainly nothing wrong with lending money (Matthew 25:27), providing you don't violate God's Word and exploit those who are helpless.
  70. 70. It is remarkable how much the Bible has to say about the right and wrong use of money. • It is also remarkable how many professed believers ignore these truths and use their resources without consulting the Lord.
  71. 71. • They think that because they tithe, or give offerings to the Lord, they can do what they please with the rest of their income.
  72. 72. • They forget that we are stewards of all that God gives us, not just of what we give Him; and that He will hold us accountable for our stewardship.
  73. 73. In his third appeal, Nehemiah reminded them of God's redemptive purpose for Israel (Nehemiah 5:8). • In the past, God redeemed Israel from Egypt; and more recently, He had redeemed them from Captivity in Babylon.
  74. 74. But this verse informs us that Nehemiah and others of the leading Jews had helped redeem some of their people, and now their fellow Jews were putting people into bondage just to make money.
  75. 75. These selfish money lenders were tearing down everything that God and Nehemiah were trying to build up.
  76. 76. Free people have lives governed by truth and motivated by love but the Jewish brokers were motivated by greed and were ignoring the truth of God'sWord.Their selfishness put both themselves and their creditors into bondage.
  77. 77. Israel's witness to their Gentile neighbors (v. 9) was the fourth appeal Nehemiah presented to the guilty money lenders.
  78. 78. God called Israel to be a "light to the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:6; 49:6), but their conduct was certainly anything but a witness to their pagan neighbors.
  79. 79. How could some of the Jewish citizens build the city wall on the one hand but enslave their neighbors on the other hand? • If we truly fear the Lord, then we will want to honor Him before those who don't believe in Him.
  80. 80. Paul used a similar approach when he censured the Corinthian Christians for taking one another to court.
  81. 81. "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?... But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!" (1 Cor 6:1, 6, NKJV) • Far better to lose money than lose the privilege of your witness to the lost. • You can always earn more money, but how do you restore a damaged testimony?
  82. 82. "The fear of our God" is not the servile dread of a slave toward a master but the loving respect of a child toward a parent. To fear the Lord means to seek to glorify God in everything we do.
  83. 83.
  84. 84. The primary problem was that what was happening would obstruct their ultimate mission to the Gentiles.
  85. 85. To "walk in the fear of our God" means "to live in awe of and devotion to God and with kindness and integrity toward men" (Deut 10:12; Lev 25:36; Neh 7:2).
  86. 86. Such a life-style would be a witness to the Gentiles and would fulfill the election of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 42:6-9).
  87. 87. It means listening to HisWord, honoring it, and obeying it. (James 1:19) "The remarkable thing about fearing God," wrote Oswald Chambers, "is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else."
  88. 88. Because Nehemiah's life was motivated by the fear of the Lord (Neh. 5:15), he did not fear what the enemy might do (vv. 14, 19). The fear of the Lord moved Nehemiah to be a faithful servant of the Lord.
  89. 89. To walk in the fear of God, of course, means to walk by faith, trusting God to deal with your enemies and one day balance the accounts. It means claiming Matthew 6:33 and having the right priorities in life.
  90. 90.
  91. 91. "The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil" (Proverbs 19:23, NKJV).
  92. 92. In Nehemiah 5:10-11, Nehemiah appealed to his own personal practice. He was lending money to the needy, but he was not charging interest or robbing them of their security (Exodus 22:25).
  93. 93. Exodus 22:25 NKJV 25 “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest.
  94. 94. Unlike some leaders, Nehemiah was not saying, "Do what I say, not what I do!" He was not a hypocrite; he practiced what he preached.
  95. 95. In fact, this chapter will conclude with Nehemiah pointing out all that God had enabled him to do for his people (Nehemiah 5:14-19). He was a great example as a believer and as a leader.
  96. 96. This practice had been going on before Nehemiah arrived on the scene and now the people were in despair as they tried to balance the family budget.
  97. 97. "The hundredth part" in verse 11 was the interest charged for the money, probably applied monthly, making a total of 12 percent interest a year.
  98. 98. A man of action, Nehemiah told the brokers to restore both the interest and the security they had taken from their fellow Jews, as well as the property they had claimed in foreclosure.
  99. 99. This drastic step of faith and love would not immediately solve all the economic problems of the people, but it would at least keep the problems from getting worse and it would also give the suffering people opportunity to make a fresh new start.
  100. 100. Nehemiah's sixth appeal was to remind them of the judgment of the Lord (vv. 12-13). • The brokers promised to obey, so Nehemiah had them take an oath in the presence of the priests and the other officers of the city.
  101. 101. • This meant that their promise was not only between them and their neighbors, but between them and the Lord; and this was a serious thing.
  102. 102. "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better hot to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it" (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, NIV).
  103. 103. The great assembly was concluded with three actions that emphasized the seriousness of the occasion. First, Nehemiah shook out the folds of his robe, symbolic of what God would do with the money lenders if they didn't fulfill their vow.
  104. 104. Shaking your robe or the dust off your feet was a typically Jewish act of condemnation (Acts 13:51; 18:6; Matthew 10:14).
  105. 105. Then the congregation responded with a collective "Amen," which was much more than a Jewish ritual. It was their solemn assent to what had been said and done at the assembly (see Nehemiah 8:6 and Deut. 27:14).
  106. 106.
  107. 107. The word amen means "so be it"; in other words, "May the Lord do all that you said!" It was an act of worship that made the entire assembly a part of the decisions that were made.
  108. 108. Then the whole congregation together praised the Lord. Why? Because God had enabled Nehemiah to help them begin to solve their problems, and he had directed the money lenders to acknowledge their sins and make restitution.
  109. 109. This great assembly was not an "economic summit"; it was a worship service where Nehemiah had lifted a financial problem to the highest possible level.
  110. 110. God's people need to follow Nehemiah’s example and deal with every problem in the light of the will of God as declared in theWord of God.
  111. 111.
  112. 112. Next week
  113. 113. Next week: Nehemiah 6:1-19 Be Faithful in Adversity
  114. 114. The Plan of Hope & Salvation John 14:6 NKJV 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Romans 3:23 NKJV 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  115. 115. Romans 6:23a NKJV 23a For the wages of sin is death, • Death in this life (the first death) is 100%. • Even Jesus, the only one who doesn’t deserve death, died in this life to pay the penalty for our sins. • The death referred to in Romans 6:23a is the second death explained in Revelation 21:8.
  116. 116. Revelation 21:8 NKJV 8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
  117. 117. Romans 6:23b NKJV 23b but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5:8 NKJV 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  118. 118. Revelation 21:7 NKJV 7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” • Romans 10:9-10 explains to us how to accept Jesus as our Savior.
  119. 119. Romans 10:9-10 NKJV 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:13 NKJV 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
  120. 120. If you have questions or would like to know more, Please, contact First Baptist Church Jackson at 601- 979-1900 or