BUILDING A SOLID COMMUNITY

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one”(Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV).

God looks for those who will partner with Him in the earth. Although the Almighty, Who needs nothing, upholds all things and take counsel from none…He does request the honor of our help. But (In addition to this humbling thought) there is a catch to this knowledge. If we would become co-workers with God we must first see where He is working in order to join Him in HIS work. In other words, we must SEE what God sees in order to participate in His building(rebuilding?) plans. Otherwise, all our “doing”(as wonderful as it maybe) is a “dead work”. It does not have the Life of God and will not redound to His glory.

INJUSTICE
In Nehemiah Chapter five, Nehemiah while inspiring the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was confronted with another wall…the wall of injustice. The poor of His people were being neglected and being exploited by their civic leaders and by heartless businessmen.
“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”(Nehemiah 5:1-5 NIV).
Unfortunately, from history, we learn somethings never change. As found in Nehemiah’s time, it was the case of the powerless being exploited by the powerful. God knows the propensity of the rich and powerful to forget the marginalized and poor. He warned His people not to forget the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger(or “alien”) when they entered into their time of plenty”(Consider Leviticus 19:9-18; Deuteronomy 23:10-13; James 1:27). They were to remember that they were once such as these in the land of Egypt. The wise Solomon wrote, “Whoever mistreats the poor insults their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God”(Proverbs 14:31).
This was perhaps why Job, the riches man of the East could stand up under the trial of suffering and loss. His conscience was clear with no regrets. In his time of affluence he did not neglect to use his godly influence to help those less fortunate(See Job 31:16-21; James 5:10-11). God did not forget what Job had done and in the end, Job was both vindicated and rewarded.
NEHEMIAH’S REFORM
When Nehemiah heard of the abuse of power among the leaders of his people he did not remain passive or neutral. Moved with compassion, he took appropriate action. “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.” “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised”(Nehemiah 5:6-13 NIV).
NEHEMIAH’S LEAD
Nehemiah’s actions were rewarded by his people. The king’s “cupbearer” became the people’s “governor”. He became a leader worthy of the people’s trust and honor, serving as their governor for twelves years! (See Nehemiah 5:14-18).

Nehemiah’s compassionate leadership style is desperately needed today as our neighborhoods and Nation is facing more and more disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The cry of the poor has come up to the ears of God. He will not long delay in answering them. The prophet Isaiah faces his people regarding the issue in his day, “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:16-20 NIV)
Fortunately, in his day, Nehemiah was alert to the danger and responded with godly fear and compassion, averting disastrous consequences. He wrote in his prayer journal,”Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people”(Nehemiah 5:19 NIV).
Those who get involved in God’s work among the needy can be assured of God’s reward. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”(Galatians 6:9, 10 NIV).

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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