Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!
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We’re back with our Nehemiah series where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval , the importance of gates , what do do when attacked, when you are weary on the wall and getting back to work on the wall. WHEW!!! Let’s dig into chapter 5!
Scene: Nehemiah and his crew survived the attacks of Sanballat, Tobiah and their posse only to be confronted with another deadly enemy that worked right among them.
v1)And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
So the poor among the people and their wives came to Nehemiah because some “predatory lending” practices were taking place.
v2)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.
Situation 1: This is a BIG family—there are a LOT of us here. We have borrowed for corn to just to eat/survive.
v3)Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
Situation 2: Others had to take out a mortgage to get corn to eat because of the famine.
v4)There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
Situation 3: Still others borrowed again the king’s tax to eat!
v5)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.”
Observation: Now this isn’t some outside force who came in—this was happening among like people! We’re all “family” here (related by blood and by being in captivity together as well), and family has brought our sons and daughters into bondage (or we sold them), because we need food. And NOW there is no way for us to get them out because we used out land as collateral–that’s been sold for food!
v6)And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
So Nehemiah was was angry. Yes, we get angry. He didn’t go Hulk on them or start cursing them in the name of the Lord. He got angry and SINNED not and he didn’t let days, months and years go by while he stewed about it. The sun did not go down on his wrath (Ephesians 4:26).
On TOP of that, he listened. He heard. He empathized. He didn’t dismiss their problem, so the wall project could continue, he decided to deal with the matter straight on.
v7)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.
Before the assembly, let’s talk about the confrontation.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak. Nehemiah after thinking it over, he needed to openly rebuke the leaders who were extorting money from their brethren. Not just rebuke them, but tell them why that they were doing was wrong and how it hurt the people—financially, yes and more so the hearts of the people, as there were FAMILY.
There needed to be a confrontation. How do people typically deal with having to confront someone? Fight or flight. We either come out swinging, saying the wrong things, hurting someone’s feelings, feeling guilty, ashamed and regretful for the words and actions, OR.. We stuff it inside. We smile, so we’ll “be a good Christian”, take one for the team, keep peace. We shop, eat, silent treatment it, we talk about them in our minds and NOTHING gets resolved.
Confrontation is scriptural–it does not have to be scary! It just has to be done the way God instructs you to do so. There is a template in Matthew 18:15-17 on how it should be done (1 on 1 then, before 2 or three, and then in front of the church), vs spouting off on social media or just not dealing with anyone at all.
Where we need to be prayerful is in our approach. Here are two examples:
Direct: Paul opposed Peter face to face in Galatians 2 starting at verse 11. Peter stopped taking his meals with the Gentiles believers (in order to not “offend” the Jewish men) and others started following suit after Peter. Because this was creating division, Paul nipped this situation in the bud.
Story: 2 Samuel 12:1-7. David & Nathan. Nathan started off with a story about a rich man who had everything and a poor man who had one ewe lamb that he and his children loved. Rich man has a visitor, and rather than taking one of his own lambs to serve for dinner, he took the poor man’s lamb! David was livid, spouting harsh words and issuing punishment until Nathan told him—you are that man. (v 7)
Getting back to Nehemiah, this thing with the nobles and rulers was a public sin and was caustic to the work of the Lord. Nehemiah was a leader who was able to discern and work through issues, so it was apropos to get everyone together. We’ll plan to get more into an example of “public” confrontation and what happens at Nehemiah’s assembly next time we are together!
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