Teacher: Rusty Kennedy
Series: Ezra / Nehemiah
1 There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. 2 Some were saying, “We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.” 3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.” 4 Still others were saying, “We have borrowed money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We and our children are just like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
6 I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. 7 After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, “Each of you is charging his countrymen interest.” So I called a large assembly against them 8 and said, “We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back.” They remained silent and could not say a word. 9 Then I said, “What you are doing isn’t right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies? 10 Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest. 11 Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil that you have been assessing them.”
12 They responded: “We will return these things and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.”
So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this. 13 I also shook the folds of my robe and said, “May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn’t keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!”
The whole assembly said, “Amen,” and they praised the LORD. Then the people did as they had promised.
14 Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, 12 years —I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor. 15 The governors who preceded me had heavily burdened the people, taking food and wine from them, as well as a pound of silver. Their subordinates also oppressed the people, but I didn’t do this, because of the fear of God. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the construction of the wall, and all my subordinates were gathered there for the work. We didn’t buy any land.
17 There were 150 Jews and officials, as well as guests from the surrounding nations at my table. 18 Each day, one ox, six choice sheep, and some fowl were prepared for me. An abundance of all kinds of wine was provided every 10 days. But I didn’t demand the food allotted to the governor, because the burden on the people was so heavy.
19 Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.
The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Nehemiah 5). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Blue Monday… 3rd Monday of January
- The most depressing day of the year
- Weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
- 5:1–5. Up to this point Nehemiah’s challenges as a spiritual leader focused primarily on those outside of Judah.
- But before the walls were finally rebuilt, he encountered the most difficult and intense kind of problem almost every spiritual leader has to face sometime—problems within.
- For Nehemiah, those problems centered not on Sanballat, Tobiah, or Geshem but on his own people, the Jews.
- There were four such difficulties.
1) First, the people face a food shortage. They said they needed to get grain for food to keep themselves and their families alive (v. 2). The work on the wall hindered their tending their crops. And this crop failure was called a famine.
2) Second, others had grain (buying it from others), but to get it they had to mortgage their fields … vineyards, and homes (v. 3).
3) Third, others, not wanting to mortgage their property, had to borrow money from their Jewish brothers to pay property taxes to King Artaxerxes (v. 4). This problem was compounded by the fact that they were charged exorbitant interest rates by their own Jewish brothers.
4) This led to a fourth problem. To repay their creditors they had to sell their children into slavery (v. 5). This of course left them in a hopeless state.
 - What do you think Nehemiah did during this time he was “seriously considering the matter.”?
- Deuteronomy 15:7-11
 - Have they already forgotten about their ancestors who suffered through the Egyptian bondage and Babylonian captivity?
 - “Hundredth part” – 1% a month = 12% a year
- Nehemiah wasn’t asking them to do anything he hadn’t already done or was willing to do.
 - Nehemiah knew that some of the noble people would struggle with actually following through with their commitment so he basically added a curse if they didn’t.
- It was like brushing the dust off your feet.
- Asking the Lord to have nothing to do with them.
- At least for a season.
- Promise Keepers
 - Interesting that Nehemiah chose to do this out of the “fear of God”.
- Today, there is not a need to do it out of fear… we do it because the Spirit leads us to do it.
 - I set myself apart from previous leaders.
 - This statement leads us to believe that Nehemiah provided much of this out of his own expense.
 - Nehemiah closes this chapter by praying.
- This is the same way he closes the whole book. (13:31)
What would you do for your kids?
I trust that the heavenly Father is going to take care of my needs far more than I could ever imagine.
 Getz, G. A. (1985). Nehemiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 683). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.