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Nehemiah: A Leader for Our Times
by Alan Allegra
10/29/2019 / Politics
On Wednesday nights at our church, First Baptist of Allentown, we host a unique Bible study, called Book Club, where we examine the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a Bible book. We are in Nehemiah, a book often regarded as the manual for leadership. We’ve discovered striking parallels between his tenure 2400 years ago and present-day politics. This should not be surprising, because the Word of God is alive and ever-relevant: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12).
Let’s take a look at some of the high points of Nehemiah’s career and see if we can relate. Due to space limitations, you’ll have to look up the verses.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king, not a politician (1:11). He was deeply moved by the evil report that his beloved country was in deep distress and shame; his country was crumbling (1:3). He knew he had to act, so he prayerfully and thoughtfully presented his case and his solution (2:3–5). Once he received his mandate, Nehemiah took swift action (2:9).
As typically happens, when Nehemiah began his task, certain powerbrokers from the land were incensed that he would help his countrymen. These men even indulged in anti-Semitic remarks (2:10). Thus began Nehemiah Derangement Syndrome.
Nehemiah took careful stock of the situation (2:11–15) and immediately recruited the workers to make Jerusalem great again. As the work began on the wall, the naysayers mocked Nehemiah, but he would not be deterred (2:18–20).
Soon, men and women of all professional and social strata were joyously united and worked literally side-by-side to rebuild and protect their country and families (Chapter 3). However, some nobles thought it beneath their station to work (3:5).
As progress increased, so did opposition, as the opposition knocked down straw men while the wall went up (4:13). Their anger reached the point of calling for violence against Nehemiah and his followers (4:7–14). When that didn’t stop the workers, the naysayers resorted to fake news and accusations against Nehemiah. He was even accused of setting himself up as a dictator, and the media reports backed up the false claims (6:5–7). Nehemiah responded with his own version of “witch hunt,” that they were making everything up. They even tried to destroy his character with traitors (6:10–14).
During this time, Nehemiah tackled the problems of oppressive taxes and high interest rates; nor did he take financial advantage of his position as his predecessors had (Chapter 5). He brought corruption to light and drained his swamp.
The wall was finished in record time, and the enemies were shamed (6:15–16). The people were protected and prospered and the constitution and rule of law were restored to the land (9:38). All throughout the ups and downs of his task, Nehemiah not only practiced his strong faith — he encouraged his countrymen to do the same without condemnation. He saw the strength of his nation’s founding faith and fostered the citizens’ spiritual life.
Nehemiah vetted the people of the country and dealt with those who were not a legal part of Israel. Foreigners who came to help were welcomed (5:17), while others were dealt with otherwise (7:61–65; 13:1–30).
Some things never change — especially the Word of God: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!
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For some reason Nehemiah sounds a little like someone I knowðŸ˜‡
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