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Facing problems among God's people

Strife and plotting threatens to halt the work.
Nehemiah had faced threats from their enemies but now there was a problem among the builders. Many had left their work to build the walls and needed money for food and to pay their heavy taxes to the King of Persia. The poorest people had borrowed money from rich Jews to do this who were charging them high interest rates on their loans. And when they could not repay the loans they were threatening to sell their children as slaves. Nehemiah was angry because these rich Jews were not only greedy but breaking God's law that no Jew must ever make a slave of another Jew (Leviticus 25:39-42). – Slide 1
Nehemiah called the people together and addressed the greedy Jews. He pointed out he had 150 people working for him who were lending money and grain but he was not charging interest. <br/>'What you are doing is not right and against God's laws,' he told them. 'You must stop charging interest! Give back the fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses you have taken as well as the extra money you have charged.' The rich Jews were ashamed and agreed. <br/>Nehemiah shook the long cloak he was wearing and warned. 'God will shake out anyone from their home and property who does not keep their promise to repay. – Slide 2
The builders were able to continue building so that only the gates remained. Sanballot, Tobiah and Gesham hatched a plot against Nehemiah by inviting him to a meeting in a village on the plain of Ono 30 miles (30km) from Jerusalem. <br/>But Nehemiah replied, 'I am working on a great project. Why should the work stop for your meeting?' Four times they sent the same sealed message, and each time Nehemiah refused to go. So, they sent him a fifth invite leaving the letter unsealed so others could read it and think Nehemiah was planning a rebellion against the King of Persia. Nehemiah pointed out the letter was a devious plot to stop the work and prayed to God, 'Now strengthen our hands.' – Slide 3
So Nehemiah's enemies tried another ploy. They paid a man named Shemiah, living in Jerusalem, to take a message to Nehemiah warning of a plot to kill him that night. 'Let us hide together in the Holy Place of the temple and lock the doors for no-one will find you there,' Shemiah suggested. <br/>Nehemiah knew that God's law stated that only a priest could enter the Holy Place of the Temple. To hide in the Temple would be to disobey God. He refused to run away or hide in the temple, trusting God to protect him. Nehemiah's enemies had failed again. – Slide 4
Finally, just 52 days after the project began, the walls and gates were finished. The enemies who had opposed the building work became afraid because they knew that this work had been done with the help of God. – Slide 5
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