In Nehemiah 5, there was strife among God’s people. The Haves and the HaveNots were in opposition.
There was a famine in those days. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened. It happened as the people of Jerusalem were rebuilding the walls around the city. The famine came, and the work stopped.
There was enough money to go around, but the Havenots apparently hadn’t planned for the future, so they ran out of money quickly. They had to sell their lands to the Haves in order to buy food. They borrowed money from the Haves, who charged them high interest. They even sent their kids into forced servitude, and handed them over to the Haves. Though the kids were now slaves, at least they would be fed.
Money problems stopped the work of God. The building of the wall ceased for a time. The Havenots were vulnerable. Apparently, they had not handled money well. We can’t be sure, but they did not have the resources to endure the famine. And so they were backed into a very ugly corner, selling their lands, borrowing money at high interest, and selling their kids.
We can presume that the Haves knew how to handle money. They were ready to buy land from their desperate brethren. They knew how to lend and charge high interest. They even knew how to acquire new slaves from desperate neighbors.
One group seemingly didn’t handle money well.
The other group handled it too well.
With both groups, the mishandling of money caused the work to stop, and left them ALL vulnerable to attack.
The wall wasn’t yet finished.
Nehemiah got mad, and rebuked them, and told them to give back the lands, the money, and the interest.
He told them that they did not fear God.
That was the root of the problem.
Wisely, the Haves complied with Nehemiah’s rebuke, and returned assets to the Havenots.
The work of God continued…eventually.
But mishandling of money from both groups caused God’s work to stop.
Are you held back from God’s work because of money?
Have you mishandled it, and had to borrow, and are now highly indebted to the lenders?
Or have you become an expert with money, even to the point of taking advantage of those in need?
We all need to take a lesson from Nehemiah 5.
Fear God, handle money well, and keep the work of God going.
Editor’s note- there are many good resources available for learning how to handle money. Dave Ramsey offers good resources, and there are other resources out there. Take to time to learn how to manage your money, and use it for God’s kingdom.
Deuteronomy 4:23, 24 23Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Hebrews 12:22-29 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
25See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29For our God is a consuming fire.
It is late, I am am having another one of those frightening moments with God. It is one of those times that we might be afraid to talk about, because people might ask too many questions, and we can’t quite explain ourselves, or we might start talking and have a terribly wonderfully frightening epiphany in front of someone when we’d actually prefer to be alone.
It is far too easy to bump along in the Christian life and not be frightened, shocked, or righteously bothered by God. We have sanitized much of our Christian faith. We have made it predictable, safe, and manageable. We do what we do, we know what needs to be done, we have committed to rightly turning away from some things and turning to others. That’s all well and good.
But every once in a while, God silently shocks me. He privately undoes me. He intimidates me as he holds me in His grace. He reinforces the truth that He is a Jealous God and a Consuming Fire.
He wants more of me. He demands more of me, but doesn’t force me to surrender. And yet, where is this pressure coming from? How can He not be demanding me, and yet so strongly be reminding me that He is a Consuming Fire, and a Jealous God?
Songs about God being jealous for us and being a Consuming Fire should not be sung in major keys or in 6/8. It’s not strong enough. Consuming Fire and Holy Jealousy demands a stronger beat and a demanding melody. Maybe we need some of our “worship” songs that have some holy terror to them. Maybe we need some actual awe in some of our “awesome” worship. Maybe we just need some “awe”, knowing that appropriate worship will follow?
What is more important is that “I” have an awe of this wonderful, terrifying, holy, consuming, jealous God that I’d rather be friends with than be a slave to.
Maybe I am so “comforted” by His grace that I have lost some of the “shock and awe” that Isaiah experienced.
PRAYER- “God, please keep me righteously fearful of you as I rest peacefully in your arms of grace”.