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Chinese2/23/2006English
經文:尼希米記五至六章
鑰節:「你們行事不當敬畏我們的上帝麼﹖不然,難免我們的仇敵外邦人毀謗我們。」(5:96)
提要

        上帝差遺尼希米到耶路撒冷,領導重建城牆以外,還有另外一個原因:改革許多猶太人心中的大惡,這也是人民「遭大災,受凌辱」(1:3)的部分原因。當時皇帝抽的稅很重,天氣又久旱,沒錢繳稅和買糧的窮猶太人便向有錢的同胞借錢,而後者則向他們索取高利、壓迫他們,沒收土地,甚至拿他們的孩子為奴,以抵償債款。

        受欺壓的窮人向尼希米抱怨;尼希米很是憤怒。那些有錢的猶太人不僅刻薄、冷酷,而且也破壞了上帝的律法。上帝曾應許,要傾聽經濟上受壓迫之人的呼求,只要他們向祂禱告(出22:27)。尼希米的來到,便是應驗了那些窮人和被剝削者的禱告。尼希米知道律法,以及上帝子民的責任。在以色列社會,窮人是不必為貸款付利息的(出22:25;申23:19~20);同時,在禧年之時,所有的土地都要歸還原來的所有人;所有的奴隸都要得自由,(利25:8~17,39~40)。很可能以色列人過去從未好好遵守過這個禧年的律法。假如上帝的子民要反映他們的上帝,他們一定要改變他們的言行,過著服從祂的生活。否則,他們的壞榜樣,會讓自己受責備,連上帝也挨罵了(5:9)。對今日的信徒,也是這樣;我們若在言行上彼此相愛,其他的人就可知道,我們是真門徒,而上帝也因此得榮耀。

        尼希米首先默想聖民們的悲慘處境,接著,便以禱告的心情,決定該採取什麼行動,以維持公義。他第一步,便是勇敢地面對犯罪的長老和貴族,施以責備。然後他召集群眾大會,在會中揭發這些沒有公理的惡行。然後要求償還。凡犯罪的有錢人皆承認了自己的不是,同意遵守尼希米的指示,因而也服從了上帝。他們應允歸還所有取自窮人的土地,還在上帝面前起誓,必定遵行到底(5:12)。尼希米生動地求告上帝,假如有人不守諾言(5:13),請祂審判。尼希米對上帝的信心,使社會得到醫治、和睦,並給上帝帶來榮耀。

        尼希米自己,是一個好的例子。雖然他可以用他得自亞達薛西王的權威,向人民多收稅金,支付他執政的薪水,他卻不願意這麼做。無疑地,上帝也因他的仁慈,賜福給他。他是一位真正的領袖,不在乎財富或名望,只在乎事奉主,同時又服事人民,並履行上帝的呼召,按主的方式領導百姓。因為他以正道為先,所以上帝賜福給他,讓他大大成功(參路17:10;太10:42;25:31~40)。

        猶太人繼續勤奮工作,終於填平了牆上所有的裂口(4:7;6:1)。在我們的生活中,我們必不可留下任何裂口,讓仇敵進入。因沒有裂口,仇敵便曉得工程已接近完工,因而更想進行破壞。他們的譏笑和恐嚇都告失敗;所以現在,撒但試著用另外一種方法,破壞尼希米和他的工作:假冒友善,並利用假先知陷害他。但尼希米站穩在上帝的話中,有識別的恩賜,知道這是敵人的詭計。他沒有讓他們的試探得逞,因為他已下定決心,要完成自己開始的工作(路9:62),他的心志,無比堅定。

        儘管仇敵全力反對,城牆仍在短短的五十二天之內,神奇地完成了。甚至反對者也得承認,是上帝使它建成的;因此,建造城牆者的信心,給上帝帶來榮耀(6:16)。在尼希米良好的領導下,猶太人一直專注地工作,同時也保持警戒,預備戰鬥。在此情形下,仇敵就沒有機會傷害他們。如果信徒今日也效法尼希米的榜樣,撒但也同樣不能傷害他。尼希米毫不疑惑的確知,上帝比任何仇敵都大。真的,「在你們堶悸滿A比那在世界上的更大」(約壹4:4)。

禱告

        主,幫助我們能在行為和誠實上愛您、事奉您。我們盼望作真門徒,來榮耀您。謝謝您讓尼希米和耶路撒冷的子民成功。求您也幫助我們在生活中,建立防衛,斥退靈魂的仇敵。奉耶穌基督的名禱告,阿們。

English

Scriptures:Read Nehemiah 5&6
Key Verse:"Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?"(Nehemiah 5:9b)
Overview

        There was yet another reason God had sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem besides leading in the rebuilding of the walls: to reform a great evil in the minds and hearts of many Jews, which was part of the cause for the "great distress and reproach" (1:3) of the people. There was social inequality caused by the wealthier Jews taking advantage of the hard times due to the drought and high tribute required of everyone. Out of necessity, the poorer Jews had to borrow from the richer Jews who oppressed them by charging usury, confiscating their land, and even taking their children as slaves in order to pay off their debts.

        The disadvantaged groups brought their complaint to Nehemiah, whose reaction was one of righteous indignation. The wealthier Jews were not only being cruel and cold-hearted, they were breaking the Law of God. God had promised to hear the cry of the economically oppressed when they called out to him (Exodus 22:27). Nehemiah came in answer to the prayers of those poor and exploited people. He knew the Law and what was expected of the people of God. Within the Israelite community, a poor person was not to be charged interest on a loan (Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 23:19-20); also, in the year of Jubilee all property was to be restored to the original inheritor, and all Israelite slaves were to be freed (Leviticus 25:8-17, 39-40). It is likely that this Law of Jubilee had never been fully obeyed. If the people of God were to reflect their God, they had to change their ways and live in obedience to Him, otherwise their bad example would bring reproach upon not only themselves but God as well (5:9). The same is true of believers today; by our unity and love "in deed and in truth" for one another, others will know we are true disciples and God will be glorified (1 John 3:16-21; 4:20-21).

        Nehemiah first contemplated the grievous situation and then, in keeping with his character, he would have prayerfully decided his course of action which would lead to justice. His first course of action was to boldly confront the guilty elders and nobles with a rebuke. Then he called a public gathering wherein he exposed the wrongdoing which had no justification. He then demanded restitution. The guilty, convicted of their sin, agreed to obey Nehemiah and thereby obey God. Their promise to restore all the land they had taken from the poverty-stricken was sealed with an oath before God to ensure it would be kept (5:12). Nehemiah graphically called upon God to be the judge if anyone did not keep his promise (5:13). Nehemiah's faithfulness to God brought healing, peace, and reconciliation to the community, that they might bring glory to God.

        Nehemiah, himself, was a good example. Although he could have used his authority from king Artaxerxes to take additional taxes from the people to pay his salary as governor, he would not do it. No doubt the Lord blessed him for his kindness. He was a true leader; not concerned with amassing wealth or prestige, but concerned firstly to serve the Lord and then to be of service to the people and fulfill his God-given call of leading them in the ways of the Lord. Since his priorities were right, the Lord blessed Nehemiah and gave him success (cf. Luke 17:10; Matthew 10:42; 25:311-40).

        As the Jews continued to diligently work, they closed up the gaps in the wall (4:7; 6:1). In our own lives, we must not leave any gaps for the enemy to get in. When there were no gaps, the adversaries saw that the work was indeed being accomplished and thus came greater opposition. Their mockery and attempt of conspiracy had failed, so now Satan tried another means to destroy Nehemiah and his work: by feigning friendliness and using false prophets to trick him. Nehemiah, however, was grounded in the Word of God and had the gift of discernment to know it was a trick of the enemy. He did not let their attempts take him away from the work of the Lord, for he was determined to finish the work he had begun (Luke 9:62); his mind and heart were steadfast.

        Despite all the opposition, the wall was miraculously completed in only fifty-two days. Even the adversaries had to admit that the Lord made it all possible; therefore, the co-operation and faithfulness of the builders brought glory to God (6:16). Under Nehemiah's good leadership, the Jews were kept busy at work and remained watchful and prepared for an attack. In such a way, they gave no opportunity for the enemy to cause harm. If believers today follow Nehemiah's example, Satan cannot bring harm to them either. Nehemiah knew beyond any doubt, God is greater than any foe. Truly, "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Prayer

        Lord, grant that we will love and serve You in deed and in truth. We want to glorify You as true disciples. Thank You for the success of Nehemiah and the people in Jerusalem. We ask that You would help us build in our lives the protection we need against the enemy.


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