Bible Survey on Nehemiah – Lesson 6

It was God’s timing to work and fulfill His promises of not only returning His people to Jerusalem but also His promises that they would prosper there.  So God burdened Nehemiah’s heart and God answered Nehemiah’s prayers and gave him mercy in sight of the king of the empire. Nehemiah gets there and God moved in the hearts of the people to have a mind to work.  The work is being blessed by God and is going well even with the hateful opposition.

But all is not well in the camp.  A problem that existed before the work started is still there.  Those that had were putting those that did not have into debt and even bondage just so they could eat.  This was against the plain commandments of God that were given many times in Scripture.  Nehemiah hears it, gets angry, but takes time to counsel within himself, then he calls a meeting, gets it out in the open and tells them to stop it. God moved in the hearts of the people to accept the rebuke and repent and make it right.

We saw this principal last week.  God will sometimes bless even with some sin in the camp until it is His timing to expose it and have it dealt with.  God was blessing the entire project of wall building and repairing the gates and all the time that God was blessing this sin was going on.

God is patient and longsuffering but He is not forever suffering.  He has perfect timing for dealing with things and I am thankful for that.

One of the reasons I think God waited a while to start dealing with their sin was for the people to get to know Nehemiah and see his heart for them and to see that God was indeed with him.

We get more information about Nehemiah’s heart for the people in the end of chapter 5.

Neh 5:14  Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. 

So the king of the empire not only sent Nehemiah to build the wall but gave him the position of governor of the land of Judah.  Where it says I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor is talking about how it was customary for the governor to take from the people to eat.  The bread was not given from the king of the empire.  If you were given a governorship, you took from the people.

Neh 5:15  But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God. 

Nehemiah was different.  He did not take from the people.  And the people saw that.  He cares enough for us that he is not taking from us.  He has the authority to.  The empire has given him a right to.  But Nehemiah does not.  The first reason given is that Nehemiah felt that is what God wanted him to do.  And Nehemiah rightly feared to go against what God wanted.

Neh 5:16  Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work. 

Neh 5:17  Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us. 

Nehemiah was more about giving.  And keeping all this going was expensive.  And the second reason Nehemiah did not take from the people is given in verse 18.

Neh 5:18  Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people. 

The first reason was he felt it was what God wanted, the second reason is compassion for the people.  He did not take from them because the bondage was already heavy upon them.  Bondage as in taxes.  These people for the most part were poor.

Neh 5:19  Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people. 

Here is a man who operated knowing he was under the watchful eye of God.  A man who understood how much God loved people and was not going to take advantage of them.  A man who knew that God would remember the good that he had done.

Heb_6:10  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Nehemiah is a real life example of living the New Testament truth of Hebrews 6:10.

I believe that Nehemiah living out his faith had an impact on how the people followed him in getting right with God.

Yes there was a building project going on, but Nehemiah is not really about a building project.  It is about God keeping His promises, it is about faith, and prayer, and living out your faith in real practical ways.

I was reading a book recently, and in it was the story of a soldier in World war one.  He was assigned to be a guard at a prison camp over some captured Russian soldiers.  The Russian army was ruthless and did horrible things.  So all of the other guards mistreated the Russian prisoners.  But this one soldier decided not to do as all of the other guards did.  He decided to live out his Christian principals.

And so he showed Christian kindness.  He still honored his duty.  He did his job and guarded the prison camp.  But he did it with Christian kindness.  The Russian prisoners took notice.  Eventually the tide changed in the war in that area and the Russian prisoners got loose.  As the Russian army moved in and took that area over, all of the prison guards were killed.  All accept one.  The prisoners arranged for the escape of the one guard who lived out his Christian principals.

It does matter how well we live out our Christianity.  And often down the road it will make a difference.  Nehemiah lived out his faith and saw the results come back in the people’s hearts.

That Christian guard lived out his faith and later it literally saved his life.

If we live out our Christian faith, we also will see some results in this life and we will also see rewards in Eternity for God is pleased when we live for Him.

See more Bible Survey lessons on Nehemiah