Nehemiah Chapter 4 ends on a high: in victory. The people of God were doing the work of God. They were overcoming obstacles with fierce determination, refusing to allow their enemies to impede the progress of the building of the wall.
And yet in chapter 5 the focus of the book of Nehemiah shifts from the threat of enemies and the building of the city walls. In fact, there is no mention of working on the wall at all. Work on the wall had stopped and a hidden problem is revealed.
Work stopped because of dissension and strife among God’s people. This time the work of God was threatened not by external enemies, but because the people of God were not unified.
Chapter 5 is a frightening chapter, as we see the devastating effects of both community and the work of God being destroyed by selfish exploitation.
Nehemiah is forced to address this rot that is seemingly exposed and certainly accelerated in a time of apparent blessing. It seems that as the work, progress and growth accelerated, the rot equally accelerated. It almost appears as though progress brought all that would hinder it to the surface.
The decisions and choices of a few have a devastating effect not only on the community but also on the work of God. This chapter requires us to evaluate the decisions we make, and highlights that all we do has a knock-on effect to the whole community whether that is positive or negative.