Nehemiah did more than rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. In Chapter 5 he’s discipling the community that will be the new Jerusalem.
Though appointed by the king of Persia, Nehemiah insists they treat each other as their heavenly king expects. More than any of the leaders who preceded him, Nehemiah has the revelation that lays the groundwork for Jesus’ approach to the kingdom of God.
This podcast (27 minutes) was recorded at Riverview Joondalup 2022-06-12.
Nehemiah 5:15 (NIV)
But the earlier governors — those preceding me — placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.
We discover the source of this insight in the final verse, Nehemiah’s prayer. Allegiance to a higher king shaped how he treated the kingdom, and those are the core kingdom values according to Jesus. Nehemiah was laying a foundation for a new Jerusalem.
What others are saying
David J. Shepherd, “Commentary on Nehemiah,” in Ezra and Nehemiah, Two Horizons OT Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018), 71–72:
The positioning of the debt crisis and Nehemiah’s response to it after Neh 4 offers a salutary reminder to the reader that sometimes the greatest threat to the restoration of a community is the community itself. …
While these fault lines appear in — and are exacerbated by — an economic environment parched by drought, it is not merely the Pentateuchal tradition that illustrates the awareness of the recurring temptation to take economic advantage of misfortune even when it occurs in the most close-knit communities. The undoubted parallels between Neh 5 and Jer 34 suggest that the latter may have offered Nehemiah both evidence of the perennial nature of the problem he encountered but also inspiration to tackle it in particular ways. …
That Nehemiah’s self-portrait in Neh 5 sits so comfortably alongside the messianic mission to the margins painted by Isa 11 may be mere coincidence. If so, it is made all the more striking by the rumors reported in the very next chapter that prophets are proclaiming (unhelpfully from Nehemiah’s perspective), “There is a king in Judah” (Neh 6:7).