Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
Praise God that he provides us with all that we need, and that there is no need for us to be anxious about anything. Matthew 6:26-24.
Confess the sin of worry and ask God to help you take Him at His Word.
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 28 – In what did Christ’s exaltation consist?
Answer – Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day; in ascending into heaven; in sitting at the right hand of God the Father; and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – Exaltation means being raised from a low to a high position. As reward for his obedience, the Lord Jesus was raised from the lowliest of positions and exalted to the highest. Raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven and was anointed by God the Father to become Mediator King, with all authority in heaven and earth. There is a glorified man in heaven today who is ruling over everything and everyone.
Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
James 1:2-4b, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete,”
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you read and God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 5:1-13.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 5:1-5 – Greed.
The people had money problems, not just because they were spending all their time on the rebuilding, but because there was a famine, which made food more expensive. It was so expensive that some mortgaged their property to provide food. There was also the problem of the king's tax. Neither Nehemiah nor the people acted as if these taxes were unfair, yet they were still a hardship. The problem was so serious that some had taken out loans in order to live, and when they defaulted, they had to give up their children as servants to pay off the debt.
What made the situation even worse was that it was the wealthier members of the Jewish community who were causing the difficulties for the builders. It was not that it was illegal for people to lend money or even to sell themselves or family members into slavery (Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 25:39, Exodus 22:25), but as James Philip points out, 'The point of all the Levitical legislation was to stress the compassion of God, and to promote compassionate dealing one with another'. It appears that the problem here was that some people were applying the letter of the law without giving any consideration at all of the spirit of the law, and with no concern at all for the work of God that was being hindered by their greed!
The very sad thing is that God's work was being disrupted by financial considerations. If this problem could not be sorted out, the great work that Nehemiah and the people were doing would be stopped without the enemies having to do anything at all! The root of the problem here, as so often when financial matters disrupt the work of God, was a matter of the heart! If the heart is right with God, and the advancement of the kingdom of God is the first consideration, financial and indeed other difficulties can be overcome.
Ch 5:6-13 – Sticky Situation.
When Nehemiah realized what was happening and how it affected the work on the walls, his initial reaction was one of great anger. He was angry because of the action of those who were seeking to make money out of the financial difficulties of their brethren, something that was clearly against the law of God, Exodus 22:25. He was also angry because of “their outcry” which demonstrated a lack of unity amongst the people. Unity of purpose was one of the most important things in the enormous project of rebuilding the walls, and Nehemiah knew that it could not be completed if the people were at odds with one another. This is true, not only for the time of Nehemiah, but in any work that is undertaken for God. There is nothing that pleases the devil more than seeing division, disunity, and complaining amongst those seeking to do a work for God.
Nehemiah's anger, however, was very quickly turned into a more profitable direction. He did not act in anger and so make a rash or foolish decision; he took time to think about the situation so that he whatever he did would help rather than hinder the situation. There was a very real danger that if he made a wrong decision here it could exacerbate the situation and prove fatal to the work. If he stood on principle, he could alienate some of the most powerful and wealthy people in the community, who might well then join Sanballat and his cronies. There must have been a real temptation for him to compromise, as so many in church circles do today, rather than to stand up for what was right. Nehemiah, however, was not prepared to compromise and would not sacrifice principle for the sake of expediency, no matter what the cost might be.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 124. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God for office bearers in the church who are prepared to assert the need to do the right thing, whatever the cost, rather than that which is personally expedient. Pray that they would be bold and courageous in all situations, for the good of Christ's Bride.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC