Home > dumcMy, God, Sermon > SIN5: Remembering the Needy #dumcMY #sermon

SIN5: Remembering the Needy #dumcMY #sermon

Pastor Daniel Ho, 11/08/2012

(The sermon schedule listed Pastor Chris Kam. But he is preaching next week. He was surprised when I told him I looked forward to his hymn and sermon today. He he.)

Deu 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Pastor Daniel believed this verse very much. 40 years ago, he walked from school to his hall of residence everyday. One day, someone asked him for 20p for good. He reeked of alcohol. In UK, when a tramp asks for money, he will not ask empty handed, he will always have something in his hand and ask others to top up. Pastor Daniel didn’t think it was right to practice that verse, he invited the man back to his hall of residence for a cup of Milo. The man left.

Another time in Birmingham, a boy asked for money for good. A woman came along to concur. Pastor Daniel asked him to go to the hot dog stand with him to get him some good. He followed and got his hot dog.

We are told to remember the needy. As a human being, we tend to respond in a manner not according to the Bible.

The text is taken from Neh 5.

Neh 5:1-19 Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers. (2) Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” (3) Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” (4) Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. (5) Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.” (6) When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. (7) I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them (8) and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say. (9) So I continued, “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? (10) I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop! (11) Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them–the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil.” (12) We will give it back, they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. (13) I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised. (14) Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year–twelve years–neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. (15) But the earlier governors–those preceding me–placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. (16) Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land. (17) Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. (18) Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. (19) Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people.

What is the tendency of human hearts?

1. To exploit people (v1-4, cf Eze 18:10-13; Ps 15:1-5)

We read in Neh 5 some people who had nothing. Some even have to borrow money to pay high taxes (or usury) for their fields and vineyards! There are all kinds of people around who want to take advantage of others. We see in Nehemiah the Jews exploiting their own kind. (v5)

Slavery wasn’t a problem of the past. Slavery is still happening today. There are still millions enslaved in different parts of the world. People oppressed people. This is a tragedy and real condition we must confront.

Eze 18:10-13 Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (11) (though the father has done none of them): “He eats at the mountain shrines. He defiles his neighbor’s wife. (12) He oppresses the poor and needy. He commits robbery. He does not return what he took in pledge. He looks to the idols. He does detestable things. (13) He lends at usury and takes excessive interest. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.

Psa 15:1-5 A psalm of David. LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? (2) He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart (3) and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, (4) who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, (5) who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

2. To oppress people (v5, cf Pro 14:31)

Pro 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

3. To condemn people to a hopeless future

Refugees are often abused.

All these situation must stir us against such injustice. We cannot be just concerned about our own problems. We need to look around to see the needs of the others. We tend to deny others a chance to live the life they deserved to live.

How did Nehemiah respond?

1. He confronted the nobles and officials (v6-8)

We are sometimes called to play that role to confront even our loved ones. It may not be easy but that’s something we have to do. Sometimes it requires a genuine meeting / an honest dialogue to discuss issues.

2. He reason with them (v9,11)

Nehemiah tried to persuade them to see that what they were doing is not right. He wanted to ensure the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem is done in a proper and righteous manner.

3. He got them to make a covenant to care for the needy (v 12b, 13)

Nehemiah made a covenant with the people, to promise and to commit to treat their fellow Jews in a reasonable manner.

None of us want to work 24 hours a day. Do we then make our domestic worker do that? How do we treat our employees / subordinates? How do we talk to them?

The problem is never with high profile people or the high and mighty. Our treatment of the high and mighty is not a true reflection of our heart. Do we do the same to the poor and needy? As people who take the Word of God seriously, surely we want to follow the Word of God. God’s Word is always for the poor, and needy and marginalized because they are always sidelined.

The house is to expensive in PJ. A graduate cannot afford a linked house. The rich takes advantage of the poor and rich gets richer. No one has the right to own many houses when the poor cannot afford one. This is injustice. If we don’t live by the Word of God then there is no holds barred.

What were Nehemiah and his men like?

1. Sacrificial(v14; cf Phil 2:5-8)

Php 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

We was willing to lay aside all his entitlements.

2. Righteous (v15; cf Pro 16:12)

Pro 16:12 Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.

Even when it was the ‘norm’ for the people in high position to abuse the others, Nehemiah refused to do that. Any nation that wants to be a strong nation must be built on righteousness and justice.

DUMC is pro the Kingdom of God. We are concerned about the truth. We are concerned about the future of our children.

3. Devotion (v16-18)

Nehemiah refused to take advantage of his position. Through one man, God brought changed to the community / city.

Pastor Daniel shared about a hero of faith, William Wilberforce. He was born with a lot of possessions and yet gave a lot of it away. He was elected into the British Parliament while he was still a student in Oxford. He was converted when he was 25. He devoted himself to God’s calling for him to abolish slavery. He fought 40 years and the bill to abolish slavery was passed 3 days before he passed away. He met and received advice by John Newton.

John Wesley wrote this letter to William Wilberforce before he died.

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you us to be as Athanasius contra mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a “law” in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant, John Wesley

Today, we see African Americans stand tall and take their rightful place in society, in sports because of what one man did.

God is looking for willing hearts. God is looking for available lives. Don’t worry about how old / young / gifted / un-gifted we are.

Questions for discussion

1. Have you in anyway abused, exploited or condemned people in the past? Share how you repented and turned around. In what ways are you really treating people with dignity and respect and how are you helping others to do so too?

2. How are you modelling the example of Nehemiah in your life? What part and role are you playing in ministering to the poor, needy, marginalized and the refugees here? Why is this important? How are you influencing others to do so?

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