banner
bar
leader pulling his hair out September 20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Nehemiah 5:1–7:3

Leadership Challenges - Do not be Dissuaded

It is not always easy being a parent, boss or ministry leader. Circumstances going against us can make us want to pull our hair out or quit. There are internal and external problems in leadership. How do we handle them? Today’s lesson may help us.

After the exile of the Jewish people in 538 B.C., many Jews were graciously allowed to return to their homeland under a decree by King Cyrus of Persia. Immediately, they built an altar to God to worship. Then they rejoiced at the laying of the foundation of the temple. After many threats against them from neighboring nations the work stopped, but under the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the work began again and was completed under the reign of King Darius in 515 B.C.. Were their troubles over? No.

The Jewish people were almost wiped out under a decree of King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) by his Persian nobleman, Haman; but God turned the tables on him through Queen Esther and saved His people. At the beginning of the reign of King Artaxerxes, the leaders of the Trans-Euphrates area (in which Israel is included) tricked the king into believing that the Jews were rebuilding their nation and would soon rebel against him and pay no more taxes. The king ordered the work to be stopped.

Then, once again, the LORD began to work on the behalf of the Jewish people. Ezra the priest was well respected by King Artaxerxes and was allowed to lead another delegation of Jews back to the land. Many spiritual reforms were made under his leadership. Later, under King Artaxerxes reign in 444 B.C., Nehemiah led another delegation of people back to the land to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, which were still charred rubble, leaving it unprotected and susceptible to attack.* Again, the leaders of the neighboring nations in the Trans-Euphrates–Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab–tried to discourage the Jews in their work. Nehemiah would not be dissuaded. He prayed continually that God would remember him as he tried to lead the people through difficulties.

In today's Bible reading we see some difficulties arise while they are working on the wall.

  1. There was a shortage of food because of a famine.
  2. Some had grain, but for others to get it they had to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and houses.
  3. To pay taxes to King Artaxerxes, some borrowed money from their fellow Israelites at exorbitant interest rates.
  4. To pay their creditors, some even sold their own children into slavery.

Nehemiah’s first response is anger. He is not angry because he has to deal with the problem when he is in the midst of an important project; he is angry at the injustice done. To ignore the problem would have discouraged the people, and the work might even have ceased. People need to know that their leadership cares more about them than their projects. Leaders must take time to care. Do we?

What does Nehemiah do? Does he react immediately? No, he takes a short time to pray and consider a wise course of action. Then Nehemiah confronts them: “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9, NIV). He rebukes the Jewish brothers for making merchandise of the financially challenged ones among them. Nehemiah encourages them to follow his example – have compassion and lend to your Jewish brothers without charging interest. Then he makes them give back what they have taken in pledge for their loans and makes them vow never to do it again. The Israelites are struck to the heart and agree.

Nehemiah is a leader, a governor of high integrity. He shares his meals, never using his position for personal profits, and he is open, accountable and completely blameless in his dealings. Nehemiah is greatly respected by the people. How are we doing in this area?

When Nehemiah returns to the work of building the wall with his Jewish brothers, external pressures also return. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem scheme to harm Nehemiah. If they can get him away from the work for a “conference” they can kill him and the work will stop. They send four letters of invitation, but Nehemiah refuses to go. Finally, they send him a smear letter, accusing him of rebuilding the wall with the intent of making himself king and revolting against Artaxerxes. Nehemiah sends them this reply:

“Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I [Nehemiah] prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:8-9, NIV).

And so, because of Nehemiah’s commitment to the work, his industriousness, his refusal to be dissuaded, and the help and protection of Almighty God, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem is completed in just fifty-two days. Nehemiah gives this testimony: “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God,” (Nehemiah 6:16, NIV).

Now that the work is completed, Nehemiah appoints the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites. He leaves his brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel (fortress) to be in charge while he is gone. Ezra the priest still remains in Jerusalem. Nehemiah returns to his duties as cupbearer and reports to King Artaxerxes.

There is great joy about the completion of the wall, and in our next Bible studies will look at many of the Psalms that were probably sung at this time. It is a time of rejoicing at what God has done for His people!

Lessons to Live By

  • Do not be dissuaded in your leadership when you are doing God’s will. Pray to Him when you are distressed by opposition. Do you know the LORD who can save you and help you? (more...)
  • People need to know that their leadership cares more about them than what they can do. Furthermore, leaders must take time to handle internal affairs within their families or organizations with care and diligence. This brings encouragement and will keep leaders from being dissuaded from their tasks.
  • To glorify the LORD, lead with the utmost integrity and diligence.
  • Good leaders set up wise administrators if they must be absent for a time so that their good work will continue unabated.

*Dates from the Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.654

Today’s Bible Memory Verses

Proverbs 12:24 (NIV) “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”

1Corinthian 10:31 (NIV) “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Scripture
Contact Us
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

COPYRIGHT @ 2016, MASTER'S TOUCH BIBLE STUDIES