“After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them.” Nehemiah 5:7
As if leading hundreds of people in the work of rebuilding approximately three miles city wall and having to defend it against those that wanted to stop the work wasn’t enough, there were other problems that Nehemiah had to deal with.
God had given explicit instructions and laws to his people in regards to the way they were to treat one another but the people were either ignorant of those laws or were ignoring them.
One law was that they weren’t to charge interest on money that they loaned to other Jews. They were family, literally all descendants from one man, Abraham, and they could not be strong and prosperous as a nation if they were all taking advantage of one another. Additionally, God wanted them to care for one another in their need and profiting from your neighbors need isn’t showing anyone you care about anyone but yourself.
They were also not to in-debt or enslave themselves to the people of other nations. Sometimes circumstances might drive you to deeply in-debt yourself to another. Other times you might decide to sell yourself to work for someone else so that they would provide food and shelter for you. If either of these was to happen it was to only be between fellow Jews.
Also, there were several laws instructing the people in how they were to provide for the needs of the poor.
Midway through the rebuilding of the wall Nehemiah had to leave the work and deal with a situation in which a number of the Jewish nobles had lent money, for profit, to other Jews, in a time of famine, and even taken their land and had their families enslaved when they could not repay. Still others had been forced to borrow money from people of other nations and the result had been similar only worse because idolaters were the ones taking the land and enslaving the people.
Nehemiah was furious when he heard what was happening and rebuked the nobles for the actions they’d taken and, to their credit, the nobles returned the money, and property, and set the people free.
It would be really nice if life were neat and tidy and we only had to deal with one major thing at a time but it just doesn’t work that way. In life we have to expect that issues unrelated to what we’re trying to accomplish are going to come up and we’ll have to deal with them. Life’s messy and God’s work is accomplished in the middle of people living their lives. Thankfully God’s blessed us with principles and guidelines for navigating the obstacles we meet in life.
Nehemiah followed God’s directions with wonderful results. We’ll all be blessed if we follow God’s directions as well.