Sermons

Wed, Aug 08, 2018

Nehemiah 5

As you recall from our previous studies Nehemiah was the 3rd great leader in the restoration of Jewish nation. 1st there was Zerubbabel who led the a group of exiles back to Jerusalem in 538-537 B.C. We learned this all the way back in the book of Ezra, chapter 2. Zerubbabel supervised the building of the temple. 2nd, some 80 years later, Ezra the scribe came to Jerusalem with another group of Jews, bringing sweeping change through the ministry of God's Word. But in time things degenerated once again in Jerusalem. So God in His grace sends yet another leader… 13 years after Ezra's expedition, Nehemiah was burdened by God Himself about the conditions in Jerusalem. After receiving permission from the king to rectify the situation, he provided the leadership the Israelites were in desperate need of.
Series:Nehemiah
Duration:52 mins 22 secs

Nehemiah 5-6

 

As you recall from our previous studies Nehemiah was the 3rd great leader in the restoration of Jewish nation.

 

1st there was Zerubbabel who led the a group of exiles back to Jerusalem in 538-537 B.C. We learned this all the way back in the book of Ezra, chapter 2. Zerubbabel supervised the building of the temple.

 

2nd, some 80 years later, Ezra the scribe came to Jerusalem with another group of Jews, bringing sweeping change through the ministry of God's Word. But in time things degenerated once again in Jerusalem. So God in His grace sends yet another leader…

 

13 years after Ezra's expedition, Nehemiah was burdened by God Himself about the conditions in Jerusalem. After receiving permission from the king to rectify the situation, he provided the leadership the Israelites were in desperate need of.

 

Nehemiah chapter 5

 

Dealing with Internal problems…

 

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

 

Christians fighting against one another isn’t anything new. There is a division among the people that hasn’t been dealt with and now it’s hindering the work of God.

 

Matthew 5:21-24 (NKJV)

21  "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'

22  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.

23  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24  leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

 

Psalm 133:1 (NKJV)  “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”




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."

3  There were also some who said, "We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine."

4  There were also those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our lands and vineyards.

5  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."

 

There is a famine in the land and the people are at the end of their rope. They are just trying to survive. You can sense the bitterness and strife among the people. The taxes levied by the king along with a bad economy was causing many families to become bankrupt. You do not skip paying taxes to a monarchy. The situation for many families were so bad they had to sell their sons and daughters as slaves just to survive and had no means of redeeming them.

 

The walls are half built. They are thinking, why build a wall if our family is sold in to slavery? Why work so hard only to be taxed so heavily you cant take care of your family.

 

The cries of the people were heard by Nehemiah…

 

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

 

He didn’t just hear the cries of the people, he took action and got involved personally. What was taking place was a violation of God’s Word. God cares about the poor. When you came out of Egypt you were just like these people. God had been gracious to the children of Israel as He had given them a land flowing with milk and honey. God provided homes and vineyards, well’s and cistern’s. God provided the nation so that they not only could care for their families bit that they would also be able take care of the poor and the stranger among them that were in the land.  

 

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.

 

Nehemiah called a public meeting because the problem was so big and involved so many people.

 

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.

 

Remember God has chosen the Jewish people to give the world the holy scriptures and through them the promised Messiah. Is this any way to treat God’s people.

 

They were convicted. They knew they were wrong and that there was no excuse. It’s not that they didn’t want to say something…

 

“…Then they were silenced and had nothing to say”

 

Conviction brings silence

 

Plead the 5th…

 

Isaiah 6:1-5 (NKJV)

1  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

2  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

3  And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"

4  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

5  So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."

 

 

9  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?

 

The fear of the Lord is missing in their lives.

 

The world is watching and they were giving the enemies of God opportunity to bring a reproach on the nation of Israel.

 

Much has been written in recent years regarding the church in America. There is much good the church is doing but like in the book of Revelation where Jesus says to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 “I have this against you” I believe in America God would say to the church… you have lost your fear of the Lord.

 

Can you even recall the last time you heard a sermon that mentioned living in the fear of God?

 

Simply put, “To fear God is to trust God, to love God and to obey God.”

 

Nehemiah isn’t just talking the talk. He is walking the walk. He is living in the fear of the Lord.

 

10  I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! (Lending money at a extremely high interest rate.)

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."

 

In verse 12 we see the first step in the bearing the fruit of repentance.

 

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.

 

They agreed to restore all that had been taken by usury. To seal the deal Nehemiah called the priests in to require an oath… This was not just a covenant between Nehemiah and people but between them and God. In a sense Nehemiah called them to an oath that basically said, “Cross my heart and hope to die”.

 

Jesus said, “Its better not to make a vow than to make a vow and break it…”



13  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 vivid image of what Nehemiah said that the Lord would do if they failed to fulfill their promise. May you lose everything you own by the hand of God. They would become like “dust in the wind” in the land. The people responded Amen which means “So Be It”. Then they praised the Lord.

 

Nehemiah went back to the Word of God and demanded the people to live by it. This was tough love but love none the less.



Chapter 5 closes with a brief biography regarding Nehemiah's 12 year stint as governor. He supported himself rather than charge the people for his leadership. The taxes would have provided for Nehemiah’s expenses but the taxes would have had to come from the people and Nehemiah sought to lesson the load on the people and not add to it.

 

Because of the burden on his brethren he did not take advantage of his position to purchase land. Nehemiah devoted his time to making Jerusalem safe for his brothers, as a public servant not a hireling. He paid his own way and supplied his own table and welcoming strangers to dine with him and exercising his gift of hospitality. He did all this because he feared God. Nehemiah knew God kept good records and was very much aware of the sacrifices he made and to Nehemiah thats what mattered most.

 

14  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.

15  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.

 

Nehemiah is not bragging, he is giving an account of his time as governor.

 

16  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.

17  And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us.

 

Thats a big table!

 

18  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.

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

 

Nehemiah is trusting God to reward him.

 

No sooner had they dealt with the internal conflict the enemies

 

Nehemiah 6

 

1  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),

2  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.

 

You have to love the name of this village, Ono.

 

The enemy moves from the many to the one. If the enemy take the leaders out, the rest will be vulnerable to defeat. The devil understands this very well…

 

 

If Nehemiah went to this meeting he would have lost valuable time. The city of Ono was hostile towards Israel so it wouldn’t be a good place for a peace treaty. If they were serious they would have just come to Jerusalem. This is an assassination attempt.

 

3  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?"

 

I am busy doing what God has called me to do. “I’m doing a great work”… Whatever you do in the name of the Lord know you have been called to a great work!

 

Whatever God calls you there is a great work to be done!

 

If you don’t believe God has called you to a great work, you will be distracted by lesser things. You will be susceptible to the enemies schemes. Stay busy in the things of God and you will be safe.

 

The safest place to be is the center of God’s will. Any other place is dangerous.

 

We need to keep our focus on the ministry God has called us too. Who will share the gospel? Who will advance the kingdom and the cause of Christ?

 

4  But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

 

The devil doesn’t give up. Four times…

 

Opportunity knocks, temptation really does lean on the doorbell.

 

5  Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.

 

The accusation they were bringing against Nehemiah are distributing among the people.

 

6  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.

 

It is reported… The devil wants to get us to try to track down every accusation that is made against us. He knows if you get caught up in this you will stop the work of God.

 

Wikipedia says, “In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers …”

 

Geshem is a sworn enemy of the Jews. This is a bold face lie they are spreading.



7  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.

8  Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart."

 

If you lead anything in the body of Christ you are going to be lied about at some point. You will be deliberately taken out of content, you will be slandered.

 

The temptation the time we spend defending ourselves is time that is not spent building the wall.

 

Stay focused… Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV)

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”




9  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.

10  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."

 

The devil uses fear… He wants us to live in fear and to do something disobedient to the Word of God.

 

The devil seeks to get us to walk by sight and not by faith.  

 

Nehemiah knows this is not of God as we will see by his response.

 

God doesn’t use carnal fear nor greed to motivate us to do His work. God uses His Spirit and His peace to lead us.

 

11  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!"

 

Nehemiah knows the way to walk in victory is to flee temptation.

 

12  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.

13  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.

14  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.

 

He gives it all to God…

 

15  So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.

 

52 days! The walls will get finished even though there is opposition to the work of God. When God is about to do something great the enemy amps up his attacks and opposition.

 

 

 

16  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.

 

The greatest revenge on the enemy is to finish the work God has called us to. Quitting is easy and people do it every day.

 

17  Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.

 

Tobiah is opposing the work. The nobles of Judah are playing all sides not knowing who would prevail.

 

18  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.

19  Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

 

They aligned themselves with Tobiah who had married into their families… this was a violation of God’s law. They put human relationships and alliances above the Word of God, above the work of God.  

 

(This is a classic example of trusting in and walking in the flesh)

 

Tobiah was family you could say. So the point of all this is to know and be aware that the most dangerous person we face in our lives in our service to the Lord isn’t the attack from the obvious enemies, the greatest attack we face is the so called brother or sister who has sold out to the world, to money and power.

 

If what you teach and what you preach stands between what the so called brother or sister desires you can count on being stabbed in the back.  People will oppose any work of God that doesn’t support their desire and lifestyle. They will seek to silence both the message and the messenger.

 

James 1:2-8 (NKJV)

2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

7  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Don’t live in fear! The wall will get built. God will see to it. We must decide if we want to be part of it.

 

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