MAY 23

Chapter 5 is a sad chapter, for in it we see the Jews selfishly preying upon one another. There is no building in this chapter.

There were great economic burdens upon the Jews, not only because of the famine, but because of the taxes and tributes. The Jews were being robbed by their own people, through mortgages and servitude. Nehemiah reacted to this crisis by first being angry because his people were so spiritually backslidden as to rob one another. He saw it as a spiritual problem rather than an economic problem.

He consulted his own heart in verse 7, and certainly prayed to God for wisdom. He then rebuked the people, reminding them of God's goodness to the nation. "We have been set free by the Lord," he argued. "Will you now put one another in bondage again?" He appealed to the Old Testament Law as he commanded them to restore their ill-gotten profits.

In chapter 6 the people went back to work and so did the enemy. This time Sanballat and his men aimed their attacks at Nehemiah. He faced guile, slander, and threats. God's people will never fully realize here on earth the special temptations and testings they must face day after day. Spiritual leadership is a costly thing. Nehemiah rejected Sanballat's invitation for a friendly meeting because he realized God's servants should be separated and should never walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1).

Verse 15 records that the walls were completed on the 25th day of the sixth month. It had taken a total of 52 days to complete the rebuilding. And the people had worked during the hottest part of the year. Through it all, God was glorified and the enemy was embarrassed!

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