(II Corinthians 4:7-9) “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”
In the time of Nehemiah when the Jews were returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding under Nehemiah’s leadership the king had imposed property taxes on the Jews that owned land. Too much to pay and survive, some had to mortgage whatever they could to be able to buy grain for their families to eat. They mortgaged to their fellow countrymen, who in turn were taking advantage and imposing a high interest rate. This was making it impossible for them to get ahead. They felt “boxed in.” (Nehemiah 5:6-7) “When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!”
Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”
Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”
Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
Sometimes life will hit you in all directions, family, finances and health issues. These are all similar things that usually hit all people. When they come at you all at once, you get “boxed in,” and you seem to have no one to turn to and no avenue of help of any kind. When it comes to finances many times, out of fear, we will choose an avenue of self-preservation that only causes us to get more deeply in debt, tightening the financial straight jacket that is around us.
You are just simply trying to survive. In the text above, Nehemiah’s comments are coming from God’s heart as he addresses his comments to the ones imposing the harsh fees.
“So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
We are supposed to be the “family of God! Family helps and does not hinder or make things harder.
(I Peter 3:8-9) “ To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
(Psalm 133:1-2) “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes.”
(Hebrews 13:1-2) “Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
God heard their cry and spoke into the people’s hearts. Nehemiah ordered them to give back their grain and vineyards etc. They took an oath and did as they promised. Don’t be afraid to go to the family of God, the church that you belong to, or your personal family for help. They just may be the very people God wants to use to help you. Cry out to God for help. He hears you and is waiting for your call.
(Psalm 106:44) “Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry.”
(Psalm 34:17) “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”
God hears the cry of his children; he hears you.
(Psalm 107:1-9) “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”