Tag Archive | Nehemiah

Taxes, Nehemiah 5:4-5, 14-15, 17-18

Bud.dish.WP

One burden Buddy doesn’t have to carry is calculating his income taxes every year. As a dog, he is reliant on me to provide him with his food, water, clothing, medical care and shelter. I carry the burden for his care. I bathe, walk and brush his teeth too.

Jesus told us to pay our taxes. When Jesus and the apostles arrived in Capernaum, the local tax collectors came over to Peter and asked if Jesus paid the two-drachma poll tax. Peter answered “yes” and then asked Jesus about it. Jesus produced a miracle to pay the tax: “So that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”–Matthew 17:27

Additionally, when the Pharisees and Herodians ganged up on Jesus with to test Him to try to get Him into trouble with the authorities, they asked Jesus if it was against the Jewish Law to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not. But Jesus knew that they were hostile toward Him and not sincere in their inquiry, so He asked them to hand Him a coin that was used to pay the poll tax. After handing Him a darius, Jesus answered, ‘”Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”‘–Matthew 22:20-21

I imagine that Matthew mentioned these two instances because He was sitting in his tax booth when Jesus called to Matthew to follow Him. That tax collector immediately got up and followed Jesus. At that time, tax collectors were some of the most reviled people in the Roman world.

However, I truly believe that godly people try to decrease, not increase taxes upon the populace, when they are in political office. Nehemiah is a great example. King Artaxerxes appointed his cup bearer, Nehemiah, as Governor over Judah and sent him to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls. A city without walls, at that time, was considered a disgrace. When he arrived, he found the Jewish remnant (who had remained after the Babylonians had carried most of the population off into exile) in dire financial straits. One of the reasons is that the ungodly Babylonians kings had levied heavy taxes on the population. “Also there were those who said, ‘We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and on our vineyards…we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to someone else.'” (Nehemiah 5:4-5)

Nehemiah became very grieved and reprimanded those Jewish wealthy who had lent money to their fellow Hebrews and exacted usury. He appealed to them to return the fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses, and also to return a “hundred part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them.” (Nehemiah 5:11) And they did, freeing their brothers and sisters from slavery and financial bondage incurred as a result of heavy taxation.

For 12 years Nehemiah also relieved the people of Jerusalem from the burden of paying the governor’s food allowance that Nehemiah was permitted to exact from the population while acting as their governor. He paid for it himself.

“But the governors that were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides 40 shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God…Moreover, there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and 6 choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in 10 days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all of this I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.”–Nehemiah 14-15, 17-18

Godly leaders try to relieve the burden on those they govern, while those who do not fear God increase the burden: “when a wicked man rules, people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2b)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon states that those who do not know God believe that “money is the answer to everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). Haven’t you been baffled by the fact that the solution most non-Christians come up with to solve social problems is always to increase taxes and throw more money at it like it’s a magic panacea? I believe it’s because those who don’t know God cannot understand that all of society’s social ills have their root in disobedience to God’s Biblical solutions to life’s problem.

It’s a bit baffling that there was a large protest recently by US citizens to increase the taxes upon the American people. Apparently they are unaware that there were record tax receipts during the George W Bush administration after a tax cut.

So, in summary, God commands that we obey our rulers and pay our taxes. We should be godly people who obey the law and not cheat and deprive the government what it is due. But whenever possible, we should support solutions that relieve people’s financial burdens, not increase them.

Come Lord Jesus.

God bless you. Dawn and Buddy

***

If you don’t know the Lord Jesus, please consider reading the Bible to learn what God says about money and how to live. A great place to start are the books of Proverbs in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament. You will learn some great principles on how to live life successfully. If you’re ready to allow God to help you put these principles into practice, please pray:

Dear Lord, I thank you that you want to give me life and life abundantly. I’ve struggled in life because I haven’t been living my life according to your principles as stated in the Bible. I believe that is because I’m a sinner and need Your grace and help. I accept that Jesus was God in the flesh Who lived amongst us, died for my sins on the Cross, and then rose bodily from the grave and is alive. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lead me and guide me as my good Shepherd. Thank you for hearing my prayers and giving me eternal life.

If you prayed this prayer, congratulations on becoming born-again. Please find a Bible-based church where you can grow and fellowship with other believers.

 

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Strength From Joy, Nehemiah 8:9-10

Happy Buddy

I tried to give Buddy a walk earlier today, but the construction noise across from the park frightened him and he made a mad dash back to my car. He gave me a happy smile when he managed to claim the driver’s seat. Because he felt safe in my car, he could abandon fear and smile again.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of the ancient Medo-Persian empire. The great king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem in 445 BC to rebuild the city wall that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed. Inspired by God, pagan King Artaxerxes also provided the funds and supplies for the project. During those times cities were usually encircled by walls to protect them from their enemies. Because of Nehemiah’s leadership skills, the motley and varied group of Jewish inhabitants of the city rebuilt the wall in 52 days. What was particularly amazing is that these people were not professional builders: women, perfumers, goldsmiths, and all sorts of persons lugged stones for the walls and hung doors for the gates.

After the great project was completed, all the people gathered to hear Ezra the scribe bless them. He also read from the Book of the Law (Old Testament) and explained it in a way that was understandable. The people wept bitterly when they realized they fell far short of God’s requirements.

“Then Nehemiah who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep….Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”–Nehemiah 8:9-10

When we’re focused on our works and failures, rather than on God’s goodness and might, we can be self-preoccupied, cranky, bitter and miserable. But what does God say?

“For You have cast all my sins behind your back.”–Isaiah 38:17

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He moved our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

After we’ve confessed our sins, God doesn’t continue to hold them against us. He doesn’t want us walking around with long, pious faces. I really think Jesus wasn’t like the movies portray him: serious-looking all the time. I believe he was full of joy, radiating abundant health, because people were drawn to Him and wanted to be near Him. No one is drawn toward a sour puss.

When we are focused on our sin and unworthiness, we’re self-preoccupied rather than God-occupied. Most people are unhappy. If they see Christians who are joyful, even despite adverse circumstances, they will be drawn to you and will listen to your testimony because you clearly have something they lack: joy.

And from personal experience, I feel healthier when I’m focused on God’s goodness, the beauty of nature and positive things in life, rather than where I’m failing or where others are falling short. I feel more pep in my step when I’m focused on the positive instead of being self-preoccupied.

Folks, be God-occupied and rejoice! God is good, thinks about you a lot, and He loves you. You can trust Him to “guide (you) in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). And “Who always leads us to triumph in Christ,” (2nd Corinthians 2:14).

You can relax in Jesus. He’ll continue to guide you. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6

End note: If you are not born-again, you can still find temporary joy in nature but without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you are not being guided into triumph in Christ. Please consider saying this prayer: “Father, I admit that I have a sinful heart, have offended you and cannot live up to Your righteous standards. I accept that Jesus died on the Cross to take the punishment I deserve for my sin. Please forgive me and enter into my heart. I trust that on the third day after the Crucifixion Jesus was resurrected bodily, an acceptable sin sacrifice, to give me eternal life. Be my Lord and teach me to walk in your ways.” If you’ve said this prayer, God promises to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13 ¬†God bless you and guide you to a Biblically-based church fellowship.

Quotes from the NASB version of the Bible