We’ve seen how Nehemiah is wise and faithful when it comes to carrying out his God-given passion to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. He has stood guard against the enemies outside of Jerusalem and trained the people how to be on guard as well.
Chapter 5 demonstrates Nehemiah’s concern for the people of Jerusalem and how he stood guard against internal threats to take advantage of the people and bring them to ruin from within.
Nehemiah is made aware that people’s money is short. The people of Jerusalem had sacrificed everything to help rebuild the walls. Some had to borrow money to survive during the project – yet lenders, yes Jewish relatives, were taking advantage of the people and oppressing them with excessive interest. He encouraged those with smaller families and many resources to help those with large families with little resources. Nehi addresses these lenders with the following message:
9 “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10 I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of loans. 11 You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. Repay the interest you charged on their money, grain, wine, and olive oil.”
As a result, these lenders agreed to not only give back the excessive interest they received so far, but to no longer charge them anything for their loans.
Lastly, I noticed something at the end of the chapter that caught my eye. Nehi is talking about how as Governor of Judah, he never drew on his official food allowance, nor did he acceptance of any land ownership. He spent time working on the wall, as did his associates. He asked for nothing, yet continually helped others in need. And, look at his remark at the end of the chapter:
19 Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.
This kind of debunks teaching we’ve heard about not asking God to bless us, doesn’t it? The one thing I keep hearing in our reading lately, is that there ARE rewards associated with serving the Lord, and serving His people. Nehi’s motivation was not the rewards, but he felt justified in asking God to bless him for his faithfulness and justice.