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Just and sincere Christian leadership
Bible Passage Nehemiah 5: 1- 12
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & book Nehemiah.

Just and sincere Christian leadership

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached September 26, 2023

1 Now the people along with their spouses complained loudly against their fellow Jews,

2 because certain of them kept claiming, “Since we have so many sons and daughters, we must get some grain so we can eat and survive.”

3 Others were saying, “We’re having to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, and our homes so we can buy grain during this famine.”

4 Still others were saying “We’ve borrowed money against our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s taxes.

5 Now our bodies are no different than the bodies of our relatives, and our children are like their children. Nevertheless, we’re about to force our sons and daughters into slavery, and some of our daughters are already in bondage. It’s beyond our power to do anything about it, because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

6 I became very livid when I heard their complaining and these charges.

7 So after thinking it over carefully, I accused the officials and nobles openly, “Every one of you is charging your fellow countrymen interest!” So I opened a public investigation against them.

8 I accused them, “To the best of our ability, we’ve been buying back our fellow Jews who had been sold to foreigners. Even now you’re selling your fellow countrymen, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet and never spoke a word.

9 So I said, “What you’re doing isn’t right! Shouldn’t you live in the fear of our God to avoid shame from our foreign enemies?

10 I’m also lending money and grain, as are my fellow-Jews and my servants, but let’s not charge interest.

11 So today please restore to them their fields, vineyards, olive orchards, and homes, along with the one percent interest charge that you’ve assessed them on the grain, wine, and oil.”

12 They responded, “We will restore these things, and will assess no interest charges against them. We will do what you are requesting!” So I called the priests and made them take an oath to fulfill this promise.


The wealthy Jews thought that they saw an opportunity to make a good profit. But they were doing this in a way that was unfair to the poorer Jews. In fact, the effect was often rather cruel.

This was another problem that Nehemiah dealt with- the tension that had developed over the years between the rich and the poor. Those in financial difficulty borrowed money from the rich to buy food and pay their land taxes to the Persian government. The rich took advantage of them by charging heavy interest. Then, when the poor could not pay, the rich took their land from them in payment, and in some cases took their children as slaves.

Troubles increased when a famine hit the land, and with the rebuilding of the wall, these troubles increased further, since the workers were not able to earn a normal living. The poor saw no way out of their difficulties and appealed to Nehemiah for help (verses 1-5).

Nehemiah knew the greed and cunning of the rich. One of their schemes was to sell Jews to foreigners as slaves, knowing that Nehemiah’s policy was for the state to buy them back (verses 6-8).

Nehemiah told them that they were doing the wrong thing, resulting in the suffering of their own people. So Nehemiah reminded the rich people that some Jews had been slaves before. When Nehemiah had returned to Judah, he and his companions had tried to buy these slaves back. Now their own people were making them slaves again. Nehemiah told the rich people that they had not obeyed God’s commands (Deuteronomy 23:19-20; 24:10-13; Leviticus 25:35-46). God had sent the Jews into exile because they did not obey His commands like this. If the rich leaders respected God, they would not do these things.

Therefore, he commanded the rich to return any people or property they had seized and to remove all interest on loans (verses 9-12).

🔷 Leaders must be very sincere and honest managers of the national coffers for the benefit of all

🔷 The rich must not suppress (but assist) the poor to bridge the gap in the world

🔷 We must request pardon and return all that we have forcefully and unjustly taken away from people (especially the poor)

🔷 The prophetic voice of the Christian must not fail. They must speak against social and national issues to call leaders to order

💥 Pray for courage to speak on issues of social injustice and corruption
💥 Pray for the less privileged

Injustice and dishonesty are the biggest troubles of the world today. Corruption and suppression of the less privileged must cease to allow Christians to lead a life of integrity to honour God and free the oppressed.

In series Bright Morning Reflections