Bible Survey on Nehemiah – Lesson 5

We saw many things in Nehemiah chapter 4.  We saw that sin loves company.

The principal of not only praying, but of praying and then doing.  Pray first and then get up and start doing according to how you were praying.

They had a dependence upon God and at the same time were working hard.

We see the biblical plan of having a strong defense and showing it, and we see how that does work.

We see people caring for others in the work and helping each other.  They were not being self-absorbed only with the work they were doing.

And again we see a great examples of leadership from Nehemiah.  He is praying and taking wise actions.  He is giving people encouragement that the Lord is great.

And he is leading by doing.  He is not over the people, he is with the people.

Chapter 4 is a very encouraging chapter. To see good leadership and people coming together in spite of opposition and the work is getting done.  It’s great.

But all is not well in the camp.

A problem that existed before the work started is still there.  It has been festering for a while.  Nehemiah had no idea this had been going on but it now comes to light and has to be dealt with.

God has a way of bringing things done in darkness to light.  And in His timing.  If this would have come to light on day one that Nehemiah showed up, I have little doubt that the people would have listened to Nehemiah and let him deal with it.

They did not know who Nehemiah was, they had not yet seen his heart, or watch him lead as one of them, or see how God was with Nehemiah.

So God let this problem sit until the time was right.

Neh 5:1  And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. 

Neh 5:2  For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. 

Neh 5:3  Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. 

Neh 5:4  There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. 

Neh 5:5  Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. 

What was going on?  Those that had were taking advantage of those who did not have.  Instead of sharing and giving, they were putting people into debt.  And it was not I will loan you and you pay me back the same amount.  Instead it was loans with interest.  They were making money off the poor.

The Jews were God’s chosen people and he gave them specific rules about this.  They were not to do this to their brethren.

Exo_22:25  If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.

Usury is interest.

Lev_25:36  Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.

Lev_25:37  Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.

Don’t loan money for someone to eat and then charge interest on it.

Deu_23:19  Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

Deu_23:20  Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

God attached a blessing to this command.  If you want God to bless you in all that they did in the land, then don’t loan money to your brother and charge interest.  I mean it is really clear. God hammered this point home over and over again.  They were not to do this.

Nehemiah was very upset when he heard how disobedient to God’s instructions and greedy the rich people were.

Neh 5:6  And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 

Neh 5:7  Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. 

Neh 5:8  And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. 

Neh 5:9  Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? 

They are doing important work for the Lord.  Work that is going to impact the future and set the stage for Jesus to come to the earth.  And there are enemies just waiting to attack.  They need the blessings of God.  God set a condition for them on His blessing.  If they prey on their poor brethren by charging interest on loans for food, then no blessing.

So far God has been blessing anyway.  So far the work is going good.  But for that to continue God decided this must be dealt with and now is the time to deal with it.

God is long suffering and He has great patience with us.  He will bless a group of His children even with sin going on.  For a while.  He has His reasons for letting something go for a while.  We can kind of see one of them in this account of Nehemiah.  They needed some experience with Nehemiah first.

He can have other reasons for letting something go for a while and still bless.

This is an important truth that many miss.  Many today will have a group and God will bless and they think that because God is blessing then they must be 100 percent right with God.

Take the large rock – n – roll health and wealth churches.  They can attract large crowds and say see that we must be right.

I have seen small independent churches make the same kind of mistake but on different grounds.  They will have a big marketing promotion and it goes fairly well and they say see what God done and its true God did bless.

But then they take it and say so that shows that we are right standing before God.  All good here.  Not necessarily.  There might be sin in the camp and it is just not God’s time to deal with it yet.

But mark it down sooner or later it will be God’s time to deal with it.  God had been blessing the work.  God showed mercy toward Nehemiah in the presence of the king of the empire.  God blessed by providing the building materials, and with an armed escort to get Nehemiah safe to Jerusalem.

God was working in the hearts of the people to have a mind to work.  God was blessing and providing protection for the workers.  God made sure that the plot to sneak in and kill the workers was exposed.

God had been blessing and blessing and blessing and all the while there was sin in camp.  This makes some people shake their heads.  But right here is the proof.  God will let something slide for a bit but He will not let it slide forever.

This often happens with new believers.  When they get saved they have all kinds of sin in their life.  God blesses and shows them something they need to change.  And they change that one thing and God blesses.  However they still have 6 other serious sin issues.

When it is God’s time He will bring up the next one and bring them to a point where it must be dealt with.  And new Christians grow as they go thru that process.  If God piled it all on them at once it would crush them.

God knows best.  He knows exactly when the best time is to bring something to light and get it dealt with and it was one of those times for Nehemiah and the Jews in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah calls a big meeting and tells them in no uncertain terms this is sin and knock it off.

Neh 5:10  I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury. 

Neh 5:11  Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them. 

He tells them make it right.  Give it all back.  All of it.

It is quite a demand.  That took some strength of character and a love for God’s rules and a love for the people being sinned against.  And it took an understanding of this issue.

God brought it to light at this time for a reason.  It is God’s time to deal with this issue.  The blessings that we have had so far are at jeopardy.

For Nehemiah to do this it took faith.  And God moved.

Neh 5:12  Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. 

Neh 5:13  Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise. 

God moved.  This had been going on a long time.  God had it brought to light in His perfect timing.

God moved in the heart of Nehemiah to deal with it.

God moved in the hearts of the people to accept the rebuke and repent and make it right.

How should this affect us?

  • We need to understand this principal. God will bless at times even with sin in your life.
  • We should never take receiving the blessings of God as proof that we are 100 percent on track with everything.
  • God has a perfect timing on bringing an issue up that you need to correct.
  • Understanding that your previous blessings do not mean you are 100 right helps you understand that God has a perfect timing to deal with your issues.
  • Understanding all of this helps you be open to change when God does bring something up for you to make right.
  • We should follow the example of the people in Chapter 5 and when God does bring something up that needs fixed that we will let God have His way and we will fix it.
  • We need to understand that if we do not fix it, then God has every right to withhold future blessings.

See more lessons on Nehemiah