Shaken Out

I also shook the folds of my robe and said, “May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn’t keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!” The whole assembly said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised. Nehemiah 5:13

I have several pairs of pants that have cuffs on the bottom. It is amazing that just in normal walking that the cuffs of my pants will fill up with grass and dirt. Periodically, I need to clean out the fold in the cuffs in order to continue to wear the slacks.

Nehemiah used the illustration of emptying the folds in his robe as a way to illustrate what would happen to someone who was disobedient and went against God. Just as I clean out the cuffs of my pants and throw away any debris, Nehemiah was saying that if anyone were to disobey God’s laws and not keep his promises, he would be shaken out and removed.

Challenge: Watch what you say and do. Be careful to follow God’s will. You do not have to worry about being shaken out of God’s fold if you have repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Once saved, always saved is foundational, but God does desire for you to seek Him and His ways in everything you say and do.

We Promise

Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil that you have been assessing them.” They responded: “We will return these things and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.” So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this. Nehemiah 5:11-12

Our church recently consolidated two loans into one loan at a much lower interest rate. As with any loan, we had to provide a great deal of documentation for the bank before they would loan us the money. At the closing appointment, I signed a promissory note on behalf of the church promising that the church would pay back the loan.

Nehemiah requested that the nobles and officials who had gotten rich from taking advantage of those who were less fortunate immediately return what they had taken. They did not argue or complain but freely promised to return the things they had taken. They were convicted that what they had been doing was wrong and they repented and decided to do what was right in the eyes of God. Nehemiah required that they take an oath in the presence of the priests.

Challenge: Ask God to bring to your mind those things you are doing that are wrong and against God’s laws. Ask for forgiveness and promise to do what is right.

What Interest Is It of Yours?

Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest. Nehemiah 5:10

I am currently teaching Financial Peace University, a course written by Dave Ramsey, at my church. Dave is a proponent of getting out of debt and staying out of debt. The interest one pays on a loan increases the actual cost of the item. Sometimes companies charge such a large interest rate that a person may pay twice as much for an item purchased on credit than if he paid cash for the item. Dave’s teachings are based upon Biblical principles. The Bible is clear that one should not charge interest on money that is loaned to a fellow countryman.

Nehemiah told the rich Jews to stop charging interest on their loans to their needy brothers. God does not like it when a person profits from the misfortune of others. He wants us to care for one another and help our fellow brothers and sisters. When a fellow Christian suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). The Bible encourages us to help others. Proverbs 28:27 says, “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing.”

Challenge: Make it a practice to help those who are in need. Give to the poor. Do not charge any interest if you loan a fellow brother or sister some money. Ask God to provide opportunities for you to serve as a financial blessing to someone else.

What You Are Doing Is Not Right

Then I said, “What you are doing isn’t right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies? Nehemiah 5:9

Our world seems to be filled with people who are self-centered and not concerned about being fair or treating others with respect but only in doing what is going to profit or benefit themselves in some way. It seems there is little real concern for those who are down on their luck and struggling to survive.

Nehemiah was angry with those who were taking advantage of the poor. He clearly told them that what they were doing was not right. Throughout God’s Word His concern for the poor and oppressed is revealed. Nehemiah insisted that the poor be treated fairly and notably, Moses before him clearly called the people to care for the poor!

Challenge: Read Exodus 22:22-27; Leviticus 25:36-37; Deuteronomy 14:28 and 29:7-11 to determine God’s way for treating the poor. Pray that God will help you do what is right and to have the same type of love and concern that God has for those who are in need.

Taking Advantage of Others

There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. Nehemiah 5:1

One age old adage declares that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Frequently the rich get richer by taking advantage of the poor. Typically, the poor need something that the rich have. Credit card companies serve as an example. The poor lack the money to purchase something, so they purchase it on credit. Credit card companies will often entice a purchaser by giving him a low beginning interest rate that increases over time. The purchaser is able to pay only the minimum payment which is mostly interest, and the credit card company keeps him in debt, thus taking advantage of his fragile financial situation.

This is exactly what was happening in Nehemiah’s time. Some of the Jewish people had become very wealthy and they were taking advantage of their poorer fellow countrymen. These people where having to sell their land and even relinquish their children into slavery so they could pay the interest and taxes they owed. The rich got richer by taking advantage of the situation. The people were crying out to Nehemiah because of this injustice.

Challenge: Never take advantage of others. Treat others as Christ would treat them. Pray that God would show you what you can do to help those who are poor and in need in your community.


We will bring the firstfruits of our land and of every fruit tree to the Lord’s house year by year. We will also bring the first born of our sons and our livestock, as prescribed by the law, and will bring the first born of our herds and flocks to the house of our God, to the priests who serve in our God’s house. Nehemiah 10:35-36 HCSB

Everything in this world belongs to God. As an act of obedience and reverence, God asked the people of Israel to bring the firstfruits of the land to the Lord’s house. They were to bring grains and fruits. These firstfruits were to be brought to the temple to be stored and used by the priests, Levites, and those who worked there.

Note that they were to also bring the first born of their sons and livestock. The sons were redeemed or bought back with a price. The livestock were to be used by the priests, Levites, and those who worked in the temple for food. This was a way for the people to return a portion of what God had given to them as an act of worship, but it also provided food for those who worked in the temple rather than them having to work the land or raise livestock.

Challenge: What are you bringing to the Lord? Everything you have belongs to God. Remember to bring a portion of what you have to the Lord’s house as an act of worship and obedience. God will bless you for your sacrificial offering.


When the surrounding peoples bring merchandise or any kind of grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or a holy day. We will also leave the land uncultivated in the seventh year and will cancel every debt. Nehemiah 10:31 HCSB

I can remember when nearly every store and business was closed on Sunday. The Sabbath was a day for rest and going to church. I can also remember when stores started opening on Sunday. I worked for a store when I was in college that required me to work one Sunday a month. I would have to leave church early so I could be there by noon to open the store. At that time, stores only stayed open from noon until 5:00 pm, but now nearly all stores and businesses are open on Sunday and have regular hours. Sunday has become just like any other day of the week.

From the beginning of time God established the Sabbath as a day of rest. God Himself rested from creating the world on the seventh day. We all need a day of rest and a day to focus on our relationship with God. The Israelites had forgotten to keep the Sabbath and they were renewing their commitment to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy by not working.

Challenge: Consider studying the new book, Breathe, by Priscilla Shirer. She says, “We are in bondage to busyness. We constantly strive to complete the limitless to-do lists that hinder us from experiencing all that God has for us. We miss the moments because we rush ahead to the next thing. It is time for us to breathe and build margin into our lives for God. Sabbath was intended as a gift, and it is still a gift to us today. If you are weary, worn out, and exhausted the concept of Sabbath will change your life.” Even if you have to work on Sunday, find another day during the week to have a Sabbath.

Set Apart

We will not give our daughters in marriage to the surrounding peoples and will not take their daughters as wives for our sons. Nehemiah 10:30 HCSB

I can remember when I was in school, my science teacher asked all students in her class to complete an experiment which required adding oil to a glass of water. We then stirred the water vigorously to mix the oil and water. No matter how hard we tried to mix the two liquids, they would always separate and the oil would rise to the surface.

This verse in Nehemiah is a commitment from the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, to be separate and not join the rest of the world and its pagan practices of worshipping carved images and false gods. God knew what was best for the Israelites. Because the other people would only draw them back into sin, He asked them to stay apart.

This does not mean that God is prejudiced and does not like other races or nationalities. To the contrary, God loves all the people and wants everyone, no matter what nationality or color of skin to come to know His Son, Jesus, as his or her personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16). God calls for all Christians – God’s children – to set themselves apart from the world in actions and behavior. Christians are to be in the world but not of the world (Romans 12:2).

Challenge: Pray that God will help you go into the world and be an example of His love to a lost and dying world. Set yourself apart from the evils of our world. Do not be afraid to be different. God will give you the strength and courage you need. Read Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and for you in John 17:6-26.

Sworn Oath

The rest of the people – the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, and temple servants, along with their wives, sons, and daughters, everyone who is able to understand and who has separated themselves from the surrounding peoples to obey the law of God – join with their noble brothers and commit themselves with a sworn oath to follow the law of God given through God’s servant Moses and to carefully obey all the commands, ordinances, and statutes of Yahweh our Lord. Nehemiah 10:28-29 HCSB

The President of the United States takes an oath to protect the American people and to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States. Other government officials and judges take similar oaths. Similarly, when someone marries, a vow is spoken to love and cherish his/her husband or wife in sickness or health, in riches or poverty, in good times and bad until death. Vows and oaths are meaningless if the person making them is insincere.

The people made an oath to follow the laws of God and to carefully obey all the commands, ordinances, and statutes of Yahweh the Lord that were given to Moses. The Israelites had made this promise many times before but had been deceived and followed other gods. The Israelites returned to Jerusalem from exile and recommitted to do what God had commanded. God knows what is best for us. His laws exist to protect us and give us abundant life. Too many times the devil twists the truth and tempts us to think that abundant life is in the world and disobeying God’s laws and direction.

Challenge: If you have fallen away and not followed God the way you should, make a vow to read God’s Word, learn what He wants you to do, and then follow His will and direction for your life. Do not be deceived by the devil and the ways of the world. Abundant life is only found in Jesus and through following God’s way

Declaration of Dependence

The rest of the people – the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, and temple servants, along with their wives, sons, and daughters, everyone who is able to understand and who has separated themselves from the surrounding peoples to obey the law of God – join with their noble brothers and commit themselves with a sworn oath to follow the law of God given through God’s servant Moses and to carefully obey all the commands, ordinances, and statutes of Yahweh our Lord. Nehemiah 10:28-29 HCSB

In 1776 some brave patriots who were willing to die for their freedom signed the Declaration of Independence. These pioneers changed the course of history. This is just one example of times in history in which people have taken a stand and made a commitment to principles of conviction. Today, our military servants take an oath to protect our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Many have given their lives so we might live in a country where we can freely worship God and pursue our own dreams and direction in life.

The Israelites made a “Declaration of Dependence” rather than independence. They were making a commitment to keep themselves separate from the world and to follow God’s laws, commands, and statutes. They were declaring that they were completely dependent upon God to protect and to provide for their needs.

Challenge: Have you made the same “Declaration of Dependence” on God? It is only through having a right relationship with Jesus Christ and depending on Him to forgive you and give you eternal life that you can be made right with God who loves and cares for you more than you can imagine. Declare your dependence on God to save you from your sins and provide for your needs.