Neh 5 — Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor
Neh 6 — Conspiracy Against Nehemiah, The Wall is Finished
Neh 7 — Lists of Returned Exiles
Thoughts about serving others
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One Reply to “Jul 17 — Nehemiah 5-7”
In the midst of the wall building project, Nehemiah has to confront an issue raised by “men and their wives” (Nehemiah 5:1) concerning those who need financial help. Perhaps they saw the money going toward building the wall and felt it was an opportunity to appeal to Nehemiah as someone who could help. Indeed he does! Nehemiah is upset about the accusations and checks into the allegations “and then accused the nobles and officials” (5:6). I love their response: “They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say” (5:8). Ouch! To their credit, once called out, they responded, “we will give it back…and we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say” (5:12). I wonder if I could be so humble to react this way when being rebuked.
In chapter 6, we’re not surprised to see Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem scheming to derail the rebuilding project, but there is a disturbing story about “Shemaiah son of Delaiah” (6:10). He appears to prophesy on Nehemiah’s behalf and suggests a plan to protect him by meeting “in the house of God, inside the temple…because men are coming to kill you” (6:10). Nehemiah sees through the scheme, that “he had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me” (6:13). I didn’t catch the significance of hiding in the temple until I read the notes in the NIV Study Bible, “as a layman, he was not permitted to enter the sanctuary (Numbers 18:7).” Shemaiah was hired by Tobiah and Sanballat to lure Nehemiah into the temple and completely undermine his leadership.
Nehemiah stays focused on the task at hand and defers retribution to God (6:14); thus he was able to completely rebuild the walls in 52 days! The details of chapter 3, opposition and deceit in chapters 4 through 6 all happened in 52 days. In chapter 7, Nehemiah lists those who were returned from exile and therefore had an appropriate claim for residency. Interestingly, Shemaiah’s family was found wanting, “they could not show that their families were descended from Israel” (7:61).
Nehemiah was a great man of integrity who faithfully served the Lord above all. He was a thinker and a planner, one who didn’t just react to problems. He was able to stay focused on what God called him to do and as a result, he had great success. Lord help me to learn these important lessons from Nehemiah. Help me to avoid the naysayers and those who would lead me away from the path you have placed before me. Give me clear vision for the plans you have in my life and the courage to act on that insight.