5:1-5 What we see here was a serious family matter (5:1). Some Jews were practicing economic exploitation (5:2-5). It was a time of personal loss because families were involved in corporate activity and, therefore, didn’t have the time for agricultural development. Facing growing debt and government taxation, they were forced to seek help. And, profiteering Jews seized the opportunity to make money off misfortunes by charging exorbitant interest rates on loans made to their Jewish brothers. It’s unbiblical to charge interest to profit off someone’s distress.
6:1-4 Nehemiah’s only remaining task was to install the doors (6:1). The last part of a task, however, can be the toughest part of all. He had to persevere, but Nehemiah got some inside information that his enemies were planning to harm him (6:2).
Nehemiah knew he couldn’t submit to his enemies’ request because he was doing important work (6:3). He said this because you don’t leave something greater to do something lesser. You never leave the will of God. So, why would he leave his work and go down to those who ridiculed the people of God and declared war on them? Before you follow someone, ask: “Is this person taking me away from God’s will? What is his character like?”
6:5-9 Nehemiah’s enemy sent an open letter to sway the public’s perception, leading them to think that Nehemiah was just doing his own show—that he wanted to become their king (6:6). This turn of events likely scared Nehemiah, so he did what he did best: he prayed. He said, God, strengthen my hands (6:9).
When you know you are doing what God wants you to do, but you are ready to quit, you need to go to God. If you are feeling pressure to walk away from a standard or to make compromise because you are worried about what everybody else thinks, you have to say, “I only care what God thinks.” The majority must not be allowed to rule you; God rules.
6:10-14 Shemaiah claimed to have a prophecy (6:10-12), but many people misuse the name of the Lord as Shemaiah did. Please, be careful what you listen to. Religious terminology does not guarantee legitimacy. Thankfully, Nehemiah knew that God had not sent him but that Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him (6:12). Shemaiah was trying to get Nehemiah to disobey God out of fear.
6:15-19 You won’t arrive at the completion of God’s plan for your life without facing your own Sanballats, Tobiahs, and Geshems; without being tempted to fear; without encountering moments in which you can sense that the enemy is trying to destroy you. If you submit to your King’s agenda, Satan will never cease trying to intimidate you (6:19). Don’t fear him. When you finally achieve success, you’ll be able to proclaim with Nehemiah, this task [was] accomplished by our God (6:16).