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Viewing the Issue of Poverty through the Book of Nehemiah

Written by Ben Cheung

They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’

Nehemiah 1:3

From the process of returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the city walls in the book of Nehemiah, we see that poor people often face humiliation, oppression, and insecurity.

Although Nehemiah was in a high position (cupbearer) in the Persian empire’s palace, he did not forget that his fellow countrymen were still suffering far away. Although the Israelites had already returned to Jerusalem more than a hundred years, and the temple had been rebuilt for many years, the walls of Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians were not yet rebuilt. The returned Israelites lived in an insecure and oppressive land. However, the Lord remembered His people and heard their cries of distress. Therefore, the Lord wanted Nehemiah to lead the Israelites to return and rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem.

The Lord demonstrated through the nation of Israel how He never left the people alone, released those captive and set the oppressed free. In the past, the Israelites relied on the Lord’s help to rebuild the city walls and lead them out of their difficulties. Today, He continues to respond to the cries of the oppressed and the captives. Wars in the world, killings, and enslavement of others are unending. The wealth gap is widening, and those in power use weapons to intimidate the weak and solidify their status through economic power. In the midst of all this injustice and evil, the Lord is present on this earth, and His only Son, Jesus, has become the world’s only hope in times of despair.

The Lord moved Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls to save the Israelites from the persecution of their surrounding enemies. Today, we must also rely on our mighty Lord. At the end of the world, we need to look forward to the Final Judgement and the fulfilment of the Jubilee that Jesus Christ proclaimed on earth. He listens to the prayers of the oppressed, the persecuted, and the poor. May the spirit of Nehemiah move us as well and inspire us to respond to God’s calling.

Let’s Think:

Most people pursue a comfortable life as their goal, but do we view caring for the poor as the meaning of our personal faith?

Editor’s note: You can download more devotional articles about poverty and the church from our devotion app (Chinese only). Click here to download the app now.