While we don’t know much about Nehemiah still, this chapter gives us a good glimpse of what kind of man he was and the example he sets for officials even to this day. Nehemiah seems passionate. That’s obvious. He’s come from a faraway land to restore a wall, and he’s not a nobody. He’s an official – the governor of Judah, to be exact. I can’t tell if he was serving as governor when he called the meeting with his fellow Jews or if he became governor later, but either way, at some point, he was a governor. And at some point, he was participating in exactly the same “interest scheme” as the other officials (v. 10), or at least he had at some point, it looks like. However, after listening to the plight of the Jews who were just trying to stay afloat in everyday life, Nehemiah made changes, unlike his contemporaries. Now, we could go off and discuss HOW the wealthy got wealthy and the poor got poor, but this chapter is not about that. It’s about equality and compassion for our fellow man … because we’re all in this together, man. And that reminds me of my favorite Ziggy cartoon. Even if you’re not old enough or ‘merican enough to know Ziggy, you might still appreciate this little quip, which used to make me laugh and laugh in fifth grade. It started with Ziggy lamenting, as he was famous for doing, “Man cannot live by bread alone.” Then this hippy Ziggy guy says, “Yeah, but if you got bread, man, you won’t be alone.” Ok, I know it’s not pee-your-pants funny, but it does make you think, huh? Especially after reading this chapter. The wealthy seem to stick together. And had Nehemiah not rallied and shown them a fine example of how sharing their wealth can benefit the entire nation, most likely not a single one of those guys in that meeting would have made the suggestion. Sometimes, it just takes one, folks. I know I keep typing that over and over and over again, but I know the Bible keeps showing it to me over and over and over again. I hope this chapter speaks to you about the importance of humbly doing the right thing for the greatest good. And let’s not forget the guys at the meeting, either. They did an outstanding thing: they followed. They didn’t argue and fight and say no and throw themselves down and kick their feet on the dirt floor of the meeting tent. They followed. They gave up their quest for wealth (or at least a big chunk of it), and they worked with their neighbors and friends to build a solid, trustworthy community. Now, no doubt, this system will get all kinds of taken advantage of and messed up in the future, but let’s savor this moment of teamwork and balance, shall we?
Writing prompt: balance
I know I’ve been writing about my classmates a little too much lately, but truly, we are having a great time in our Facebook chat group. And the ending of this chapter reminded me of the Class of ‘90. Did we have our disagreements? Oh yeah. Do we still roll our eyes at comments in our chat group? Oh yeah. But I have no doubt that if one of us – wouldn’t even matter who – needed us to come together and do something we didn’t really want to do for the good of our group, we wouldn’t hesitate. Write about something or someone (a group, cause, person) for which you wouldn’t hesitate to make a sacrifice.