Bible Studies for Life
August 12 2018
Nehemiah 5:1-13 (HCSB)
Nehemiah 5:1-13 describes a community in crisis. Israel’s economy was in shambles. The labor force had been diverted to working on the wall. There was a famine heavy taxation and high-interest rates. People were mortgaging property to buy food borrowing money to pay taxes and selling their children into slavery as collateral. Wealthy Jews were exploiting the less fortunate.
This lesson shows us ten ways Nehemiah dealt with conflict.
1) He did not ignore the problem. As soon as the people complained to Nehemiah he began to deal with it.
2) He developed a righteous anger (Neh. 5:6).
3) He was patient and demonstrated self-control (Neh. 5:6-7).
4) He gave the situation serious thought (Neh. 5:7). Nehemiah calls a great assembly to confront the nobles and the officials who created the conflict to begin with (Neh. 5:7).
5) He practiced a biblical model of confrontation (Neh. 5:7-9). Nehemiah did not have Matthew 18:15-17 to guide his approach. However it is interesting how his approach parallels Jesus’ model.
6) He encouraged the fear of God (Neh. 5:9).
7) He had them to consider their witness to others (Neh. 5:9). They were not to be a reproach to foreign enemies.
8) He was an example (Neh. 5:10). Nehemiah was also guilty of making loans with interest.
9) He encouraged proper restitution (Neh. 5:11).
10) He demanded accountability (Neh. 5:13). Shaking out the fold of his garment was the ancient equivalent of emptying his pocket. This simple gesture was Nehemiah’s way of saying “If you don’t do as you have promised may God take away all of your possessions.”
Nehemiah’s approach to this conflict was successful. We know this because of how this section ends “Then the people did as they had promised” (Neh. 5:13). It was leadership’s responsibility to protect the less fortunate. It was the leadership who set the bar and provided examples for others to follow.