TGIF CG Bible Study Review - 7 March 2014

Bible Study Review of CG Session on 7 March 2014

By Esther Wong, TGIF CG

Past Friday, we studied Nehemiah 5--an episode that shows how Nehemiah is not only interested in physical rebuilding, but also the spiritual reformation of God's people. The problem was the poor did not have enough grain due to famine and labor diverted to rebuilding work, had to pay the king's taxes, and above all, they were financially exploited by their rich Jewish brothers charging overly-high interest. The poor were mortgaging their fields, and even selling their children as slaves to pay debts!

Nehemiah was angry and stood up against this injustice of financial oppression. He pondered and appealed to the nobles and officials to their Jewish brotherhood, to their morality, their theology (God's character), and their testimony:

"I said to them, “We according to our ability haveredeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. Again I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?" -Nehemiah 5:8-9 (NASB)

Furthermore, Nehemiah's lifestyle shows an exemplary model of a believer who has "not selfish individualism, but a sense of community concern" (R. Brown). We learned that Nehemiah left Susa actually as the king's appointed governor of Judah. For twelve years, he demonstrated generosity and love by foregoing his food allowance he is entitled to exact, unlike his predecessors. He did so because "the service was too heavy on this people" and "out of reverence for God" (v.15, 18).

Nehemiah puts community needs before his own; he 'walked the talk'! Do we likewise have the same reverence for God and compassion for others? And do we live generously, providing for others' practical needs?