Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611



Nehemiah was taught by Dr. James Modlish




The saying goes, "If it isn't one thing, it's another." Here in chapter five, it's another. It is difficult and discouraging enough to have to face the many external oppositions placed before us in God's work, but when the enemy is within the ranks the damage that can be done may be irreparable.

Chapter five is certainly not the highlight of the book. There is no building in this chapter! The enemy of greed and selfishness had infiltrated the camp. There were great economic burdens placed upon the Jews, not only because of the famine (Hag. 1:3-11), but also because of the taxes they had to pay. The Jews were being robbed by their own people, usury was common place, and the people were complaining about how much it had cost them to enter into the work. How the enemy must have enjoyed seeing and hearing of the dissension amongst the ranks!




A. The Overt Crisis

    [1]. Famine (3) "dearth"

    [2]. Taxes (4) "tribute"

    [3]. Usury (7)

B. The Covert Crisis
    [1]. Bitterness over the cost of the work. (1-5)
    [2]. "Comparing themselves among themselves". (5)
    [3]. Failure to go to God with their burdens. (1)


A. Nehemiah got angry. (6)
B. He talked it over with himself before he spoke. (7) "Look before you leap."
C. He rebuked those who were guilty. (7)

    [1]. You're acting no different than the heathen!..."they held their peace."
    [2]. "Fear God"..."quit"..."restore."

D. They did! "We will" (vs. 12) "Amen, and praised the Lord"...",The people did."


A. He denied himself his deserved wage. (14)

B. He feared God; God gave him the job, He would provide. (15)
C. He continued in the work. (16)
D. He relinquished some of his rights. (16)
E. He didn't want to overburden an already burdened people. (18)
F. He asked God to bless him for his work. (19)



The people were about to go on strike. "We have our rights!", they might have said. Nehemiah, like a good leader,, took the time to listen to their grievances: Some had large families without enough to eat; others owned property, yet had to mortgage their homes and properties to endure the spiraling inflation; others were over their heads in debt and could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Famine, taxes and usury compounded the already difficult conditions of the work.

What may even be more distressing to Nehemiah, although it isn't mentioned, was the fact that morale was low. He saw that many were beginning to wonder why they had committed themselves to the work in the first place. what they were going without overshadowed the prospects of the completed project. It is painfully reminiscent of the Jews in the wilderness. "Moses brought us out here to die!" Nehemiah was a wise man, instead of reprimanding the common folk for their selfishness, Nehemiah realized that a good scolding was inappropriate, it probably would not be received well. Nehemiah saw a need to relieve some of the needless excess financial pressures caused by the greedy usurers. He attacked the problem head on.



There's a time to get angry, but the leader cannot afford to retaliate without considering all the repercussions. Nehemiah weighed the "pros" and "cons", devised a plan, and went to work. He didn't penalize everyone, he went to the "hot spot" of the controversy. He made three accusations: You are charging interest to fellow Jews (Ex. 22:25 - against Levitical law); you are enforcing permanent slavery of Jews (Lev. 25:42), (vs. 8); you're a rotten testimony to those around us (vs. 9).

The nobles "held their peace." They were smart enough to accept the rebuke and admit their exploitation. Nehemiah tells them: Stop; make specific plans to correct the situation as quickly as possible; declare your plans publicly in a promise to God and realize the seriousness of such a vow..."And the people did." Another crisis had been "handled."



Nehemiah was a man of character, promoted from cup bearer, to building contractor, to governor. Nehemiah was willing to do what others would not even consider doing. He would not accept the financial benefits of his job, for it would overburden an already depressed economy. Holding a secular position he still continued in the work and probably contributed more than his share. He feared God and knew that God doesn't hand his paychecks out on Friday afternoon. He asked but one thing, "Think upon me, my God, for good."


[1]. Any real work of God will cost a great price.

[2]. God expects the work to continue even amidst unfavorable economic circumstances.

[3]. There are always those who will try to make a buck off someone else's misfortune.

[4]. The leader is an example, either a good one or a bad one.

[5]. Correcting any problem begins by facing it head on.

[6]. Correction is carried out most effectively when we make a promise, preferably publicly.

[7]. Maybe there was some building accomplished in chapter five after all was said and done.

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