May 14, 2020

In the reading for today, we see that even though Nehemiah had a work to do and was very focused on the job at hand, he was sensitive to the needs of the people around him.  People in need were crying out to him in misery. They had fallen prey to nobles and officials who had levied heavy taxes and interest on their own people.  As if the taunts of their enemies weren’t enough, those in positions of power and means had added to the burdens of their own people.  

Nehemiah was moved by compassion for those in need and helped those within the city as he continued to lead the important work of building the wall to protect his people from their enemies outside of the city. When the wall was finished, the hard work completed, Nehemiah said that all the nations around them were afraid and were no longer so proud and superior in their own eyes, and rightly perceived that this great work was only accomplished with the help of the God of Israel (6:16).

Nehemiah 5-7

Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor

Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.”There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards.Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”

I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13 I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

Nehemiah’s Generosity

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor.15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Conspiracy Against Nehemiah

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.”Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

The Wall Is Finished

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.” The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.

Lists of Returned Exiles

Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it:

These were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.

The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172. The sons of Shephatiah, 372. 10 The sons of Arah, 652. 11 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818. 12 The sons of Elam, 1,254. 13 The sons of Zattu, 845. 14 The sons of Zaccai, 760. 15 The sons of Binnui, 648. 16 The sons of Bebai, 628. 17 The sons of Azgad, 2,322. 18 The sons of Adonikam, 667.19 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067. 20 The sons of Adin, 655. 21 The sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, 98. 22 The sons of Hashum, 328. 23 The sons of Bezai, 324. 24 The sons of Hariph, 112. 25 The sons of Gibeon, 95. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188. 27 The men of Anathoth, 128. 28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, 42.29 The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, 621. 31 The men of Michmas, 122. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123.33 The men of the other Nebo, 52. 34 The sons of the other Elam, 1,254. 35 The sons of Harim, 320. 36 The sons of Jericho, 345. 37 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721. 38 The sons of Senaah, 3,930.

39 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, namely the house of Jeshua, 973. 40 The sons of Immer, 1,052. 41 The sons of Pashhur, 1,247. 42 The sons of Harim, 1,017.

43 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, namely of Kadmiel of the sons of Hodevah, 74.44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138.

46 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47 the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, 48 the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai, 49 the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50 the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51 the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52 the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim, 53 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54 the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.

57 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, 58 the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon.

60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.

61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.

Totals of People and Gifts

66 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female.68 Their horses were 736, their mules 245, 69 their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720.

70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas of silver. 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 And what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver, and 67 priests’ garments.

73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns.

And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Christians are endowed with spiritual gifts and talents for the building up of the body of Christ.  We also have a responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves.  

We are experiencing difficult days with the COVID-19 pandemic. People are afraid, encountering financial hardships, and sickness. It is so easy to become fearful and anxious about the future.  As God uses you to build his kingdom, call out to him to not only meet your needs but to enable you to meet some needs of your neighbors.  Continue to place your confidence in the God of all comfort and hope.  

And remember, Jesus said that he is building his church upon the good news of the gospel, and even the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)! Praise be to our great and awesome God! 

17 thoughts on “Navigating Your New Normal: Day 3

  1. Father, you are the maker of heaven and earth and all that is in it. Today, may my praises rise to your ears. May your eyes behold my steadfast love for you. Hear and answer the cries of your people. Comfort each and grant us hope for tomorrow. Churches across America are empty. As the doors open, fill each to overflowing keeping all safe. Send your Holy Spirit to each leader, too each teacher, to each preacher filling them and equipping them to do mighty works in your name. Send a Holy Ghost revival starting here, now. May countless new souls be added to the kingdom. And as the sun sets, may we look up towards heaven thanking you for each breath. For it is only in the name of Jesus that we enter your throne room. Amen and Amen.

    1. Thank You Lord that because You live inside me Your Spirit helps me discern truth from lies! These days it is really hard to tell the difference because lying comes natural to the “Natural” man! Sanballat was a form of the “Lying Tongue”. He used lies to cause fear in Nehemiah! But Nehemiah knew the truth, because he knew The God of Truth! Because we take You where ever we go You live through our lives!

  2. This biblical account of the building of the wall and “God’s People” were chosen and they received a promise in Rom. 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable!” Paul was talking about the irrevocable call of God on Israel as well as our call as gentiles to be saved. Once we respond he will never revoke his call of salvation on our lives.

  3. Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank You for today and for all of the many days before . You have always provided all of my daily needs and abundantly more. I am reminded that “only by the grace of God, go I” , for I have done nothing to deserve , even my life. I want to have a servant’s heart and be an instrument of Your love. Teach me, O Lord, I pray. Help me to always be aware of any need that I could meet and show me how to meet that need. For I have lived believing it is more blessed to give than to receive. In Jesus’, most Precious and Holy name,

  4. Praise the Lord for the mighty strength of Nehemiah. He was not afraid in his struggles. May the Lord gives us power to be a champion like him, and to walk in victory and hope during this pandemic in 2020.

    1. Padre enséñame a tener un corazón contrito y humilde para ver las necesidades de los demás y poder dar de lo que tú ya nos has dado, ayúdanos a ser un mejor siervo tuyo, lléname de tú espíritu santo, así también a todos los líderes de todas las naciones, de las Iglesias, de tu pueblo, ayúdanos a superar esta pandemia porque sabemos que tú tienes el control y sin ti nada podemos hacer gracias padre en nombre y por amor a tú hijo amado amén y amén 🙏

  5. Each one of us has gifts and talents that you have given us. Help our hearts be open to use them today for your glory.

  6. Thank you dear Lord for including Nehemiah’s journey and demonstration of leadership in turbulent times. I lift the leaders of our nation before your throne and ask that you bless them with wisdom. Bless our statewide leaders, city and county leaders, as well as our church leaders. Give them the knowledge and strength of character to speak up for those who cannot. Bless their work as you did Nehemiah – overcoming obstacles. Be glorified by our work!

  7. Father God,

    Remind me that I can make a difference — one person, doing one act of kindness, can make a big difference in someone’s life. Keep my heart open and sensitive to the needs around me.

    Thank you for Nehemiah’s example of what generosity looks like.

    In Jesus’s name. Amen

  8. Lord, use our CFBC community to build something great for your namesake. Help us build a community of believers that will seek you with all of our hearts and minds. Transform us in such as way that that we would gather men, women, boys and girls to follow Jesus. Supply all we need for a revival of faith in our community and all that surround us as they see you at work in and through us.

  9. The wall was finished in fifty-two days. I am so thankful God still uses human instrumentality in the redemptive process. God chooses to use us to accomplish His kingdom purpose and plans. What an honor to be entrusted by God to join Him in His activity today!

  10. I am so thankful for this-> reminder: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

    These chapters in Nehemiah speak to our current season. God is working through our struggles individually and as a community. He is shaping us. He is revealing to us our true self. He is commanding His people to be the light, share truths, and use our gifts to do our part through this reshaping. He doesn’t need us to help rebuild, but he rebuilds us through our efforts. As always, He takes what the enemy means for evil and turns it for good. (Genesis 50:20)

    As I read through this I kept thinking of this scripture: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

  11. Please add Betty Patterson’s email to your mailing list as she failed to sign up to continue the devotionals and scripture reading. (I do have another plan which I started at the beginning of thr year) Been reading the Bible daily for many years now. Martin has been forwarding his email to me, so I am keeping up. I really do enjoy this plan from our church. Thank you.
    See my email in comments below.

    1. Father, I praise you for who you are. In Your wisdom this book of Nehemiah was chosen for our study for such a time as this. I see so many simiralities of good versus evil, even the pa demic. God will not be mocked. We, too, can be victorious as we set our eyes on you and the work you are doing and join in your work in our country. Give us a passion for the lost and draw the ones who have strayed away from you.
      I the Mighty Name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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