Nehemiah was a faithful follower of God who had been taken into exile to Babylon. But, through his initiative, Nehemiah laid plans to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the broken down wall which surrounded the city. Once Nehemiah arrived and arranged for work teams to busy themselves on the wall, he discovered there was much more to rebuild than just a physical wall. A wall of separation existed between fellow Jews based on economics. The poor were being taken advantage of as their fellow Jews were exacting usury from them.
Nehemiah’s response is instructive for us. He did not ignore the situation and only focus on the wall. He firmly and squarely addressed the problem, and was downright angry about the circumstance of Jewish families essentially living in a state of slavery. Nehemiah was clear, concise, and direct about the nature of the problem. He threw himself into being part of the solution instead of only complaining about what was happening. Nehemiah did not over-involve others in the process of handling the conflict, but handled the issue by taking counsel with himself. Finally, he attacked the problem without alienating others, and held people accountable for their actions and their promises.
Packed into these few paragraphs of Scripture is a sort of case study of how to engage significant problems and conflict. This is a section of the Bible not to quickly read over, but to ponder, examine, and absorb Nehemiah’s dealing with the situation. We all need some guidance and direction when it comes to confronting the problems that surround us. Let this story serve us well in addressing the issues in our lives.
Holy God, you have a special concern for those who are poor and needy. Enable me to live and speak wisely into the crucial needs which exist around me, so that Christ might be exalted through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.