Missional Hindrances

Nehemiah’s own unselfish example, coupled with some solutions, provided ample opportunity to refocus on the mission.
October 18, 2022

Nehemiah 5

Do you know someone who takes on a specific task, is passionate and motivated, yet, seems to encounter compounded obstacles? For example, they have surveyed ideas and materials needed; however, certain problems, or hindrances, arise in opposition to its completion. These hindrances only serve to thwart the progress of the mission. They are those things that, if not dealt with properly, could stop any mission from ever existing. Nehemiah is a great example of a person who, being called by God to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, encountered a number of hindrances, complaints, and issues.  

Financial and Social Problems

To fulfill God’s mission of rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah dealt with hindrances, namely, financial and social problems. In fact, Nehemiah 5:1-13 details the account of families who did not own any type of land, did not benefit from their labors, therefore, became aggravated due to the lack of income, and taxes, while giving themselves to the work of the wall. In contrast, there were families who did own land, but due to the lack of compensation, lacked the security to repay their debts, therefore, complained and complicated the mission. Lastly, Nehemiah encountered those who borrowed in order to pay their dues. Undoubtedly, this only further compounded the problem. “For all of them, the sense of social injustices was aggravated by the facts their creditors were fellow-Jews (1,5).” These debt problems were directly associated with some of the social issues that Nehemiah dealt with, and complicated the mission of rebuilding the wall. 

Nehemiah’s Example 

Being that Nehemiah was an exceptional leader, he did not sit by idle, rather, he confronted the problems so that laborers could focus on the mission. For instance, Nehemiah 5: 6-9 explains that he confronted the Jewish creditors by publicly acknowledging the problem. Mervin Breneman says, “Nehemiah was angry (cf. Mark 3:5) because the behavior was wrong and because he realized the danger of the community’s slipping into serious inequality and upsetting the economic infrastructure. Also, the harmony among fellow members of the community was breaking down. Action had to be taken before this ruined the community.” One of the ways he did this, in addition to his own example, was helping the people understand that sacrifice and generosity was preferred in contrast to personal gain. Nehemiah’s own unselfish example, coupled with some solutions, provided ample opportunity to refocus on the mission. 

By confronting the Jewish creditors, and the societal issues, Nehemiah provided leadership to solve the problems that inadvertently could deter the mission of rebuilding the wall. He provided unselfish leadership, for example, “he not only sacrificed the taxes he was entitled to, but he also underwrote government expenses from his personal savings.” Also, he reminded the laborers that giving and sacrifice was admired in comparison to selfish gain. Ultimately, Nehemiah 5 points people to God, His mission, providence, provision, and love. When those obstacles to His mission arise, they must be properly dealt with in order to focus on His calling and mission. 

Reflective Questions

What are the obstacles or hindrances standing between you and what God is calling you to do?

Are you being a “hindrance” to what God is calling someone else to do?

How are you sacrificing or giving generously to benefit the Kingdom of God?

How are you helping others see God’s mission in your life? 


The New American Commentary: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther by Marvin Breneman

The New Bible Commentary Edited by G.J Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A Carson, and R.T. France.