Celebratory Occasions or Obligations?

But the former governors lived at the expense of the people and took from them food and wine, besides forty shekels of silver [a large monthly official salary]; yes, even their servants assumed authority over the people. But I did not so because of my [reverent] fear of God. Nehemiah 5:15 (AMP)

English: Queen Elizabeth II at Queen's Park

English: Queen Elizabeth II at Queen’s Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in observance of her 60 years as constitutional monarch of the Commonwealth realms. The four-day celebration included public holidays throughout Britain, a 1,000-vessel flotilla on the Thames River, and a public concert outside Buckingham Palace (the queen’s residence). Impossible to miss was the day of pageantry during which crowds thronged the streets around the palace and World War II aircraft flew over. The queen remarked publicly about being humbled by the outpouring of support her subjects had given her.

Notice she used the term subjects as meaning subordinate to her. I am not well versed on Kings and Queens of England but to think that one person would be subject to another is slavery. Those in positions of authority rule over their SUBJECTS without regard to the needs and well-being of those subjects.

This is what Nehemiah found to be happening to his kinsmen and brethren in his homeland.

NOW THERE arose a great cry of the [poor] people and of their wives [driven to borrowing] against their Jewish brethren [the few who could afford to lend]. For some said, We, our sons and daughters, are many; therefore allow us to take grain, that we may eat and live! If we are not given grain, let us take it! Also some said, We are mortgaging our lands, vineyards, and houses to buy grain because of the scarcity. Others said, We have borrowed money on our fields and vineyards to pay the [Persian] king’s heavy tax. Although our flesh is the same as that of our brethren and our children are as theirs, yet we are forced to sell our children as slaves; some of our daughters have already been thus sold, and we are powerless to redeem them, for others have our lands and vineyards.

I [Nehemiah] was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. I thought it over and then rebuked the nobles and officials. I told them, You are exacting interest from your own kinsmen. And I held a great assembly against them. I said to them, We, according to our ability, have bought back our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations; but will you even sell your brethren, that they may be sold to us? Then they were silent and found not a word to say.

Also I said, What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts and reproach of the nations, our enemies? I, my brethren, and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this forbidden interest! Return this very day to them their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses, and also a hundredth of all the money, grain, new wine, and oil that you have exacted from them. Then they said, We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say. Then I called the priests and took an oath of the lenders that they would do according to this promise. Nehemiah 5:1-12 (AMP)

What a contrast between the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II and the jubilee declared by the then Governor Nehemiah. He noticed that his fellow citizens where being bought and sold like slaves because the nobles and officials thought it proper to exact a heavy tax upon them. These were all the same flesh, yet those in positions of authority were able to relegate those less fortunate than themselves to a lower class. They became SUBJECTED to these rulers who were using the economic downturn to enrich themselves at the cost of their fellow citizens.

Nehemiah was right in rebuking these wicked overlords for doing to their own people what they complained about while being subjected to Egyptian bondage and servitude. Nehemiah reminded them that they too were servants and subject to a higher authority, God, and if they wish to be treated mercifully by God then they ought to treat their fellow-man just as mercifully.

And make us free of our debts, as we have made those free who are in debt to us. Matthew 6:12 (BBE)

Jesus taught his disciples to pray to be released from the burden of indebtedness just as they should release others from that same burden. God takes no delight in exacting heavy taxation upon a free people. In fact it was because of the inhumane treatment Pharoah placed upon the Israelites held in Egyptian bondage that brought about the wrath of God upon that land.

Isn’t it funny how those who live off the livelihoods of others consider themselves worthy of such high praise and adulation? Jesus on the other hand came to GIVE to others and not take anything in return and for that he was vilified, mocked, scorned and ultimately crucified.

Should the crowds throng the streets to honor and praise Queen Elizabeth II? Was this celebration in honor of her majesty the Queen or was it an occasion to honor and thank the people for making her life possible by their sacrifices? A good and righteous ruler would take no more than that which was needed to allow the people as much freedom and wealth as possible.

I fed 150 Jewish leaders and their people who came to us from the surrounding nations. Preparing one ox and six choice sheep was necessary every day. Poultry was prepared for me. Once every ten days a supply of wine was ordered. Yet, in spite of all this, I never demanded anything from the governor’s food allowance, because these people were already carrying a heavy load. Nehemiah 5:17-18 (GW)

Can this same be said of today’s political leaders? Is there anything that can be learned from this? Whom do you suppose God would look favorably upon? The ruler who has mercy upon his fellow-man or the one who only thinks about enriching himself by the sweat of the brow of his fellow-man?

I do not know about you but I do not plan on dancing in the streets to honor another year of the service of our present leadership class? I will however be dancing in the street when all of them have been removed from their ivory towers and reduced to common man status. I will be rejoicing when my neighbor is released from the burden placed upon him by the government taxation and regulation. I will rejoice and celebrate when America is once again the land of the free and the hope of the nations. I will celebrate when the burden of government debt has been removed from the backs of our children and our children’s children. I shall not rejoice in the servitude of a tyrant.

And that is the way I see it. What say you?

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