I said to them, “We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say, (5:8).
Nehemiah is infuriated when he hears what has been going on, finding it both unfathomable and reprehensible. After the children of Israel had been redeemed out of their bondage to Babylon, how could their own brothers sell them back into slavery?
Nehemiah and his godly co-laborers had done all they could, according to their ability. And almost as though those words jumped off the page, “We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations;” I was once again amazed and humbled by the reality of our Redeemer. For redemption by man may bring some temporary relief; even that of a godly man like Nehemiah, who feared God and understood his responsibility to live in a way that would bring glory to his God.
Again I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?” (5:9).
Although Nehemiah had done all he could, according to his ability, Nehemiah’s efforts would be circumvented by the sins of man, even by those of his own Jewish brothers.
Much of this chapter is a flaming rebuke on those who enjoyed financial security and resided in their selfish, insensitive greed and usury against their fellow countrymen. Also detailed is the required measures necessary to rectify their disgraceful conduct. But, beneath Nehemiah’s story is His story; His story of His everlasting arms, stretched out on a cross, destroying the works of the enemy and making possible our Redemption from the bondage of sin.
“The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
And He drove out the enemy from before you,
And said, ‘Destroy!’ (Deuteronomy 33:27).
It was the third hour when they crucified Him… 33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour… 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:25, 33, 37-39).
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (1 Peter 3:18).
And because He Has Redeemed Us, we can be settled in our eternal freedom He has provided for all those who would trust in His Ability alone.
Consider Him Who Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability
Although the usury against the poor Jewish brethren had been enacted against them by their own people, the pride and actions of these nobles and rulers resembled the very ways of their enemy, culminating in the bondage of God’s children.
And Nehemiah would deal with the mess they had made, guided in wisdom and the fear of the Lord, to silence the wrongdoers and call them to account.
I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. 8 I said to them, “We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 Again I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? (5:7-9).
But there would be only One Whose Ability could clean up our mess and Redeem mankind for all of eternity. Only One Who needed no assistance. Only One Who Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability.
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, and none other.
- And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved, (Acts 4:12).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, coming as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
- The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, demonstrating His love.
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, choosing to become a curse for us.
- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— (Galatians 3:13).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, revealing the riches of His grace.
- In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:7).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, pouring out His mercy and grace.
- He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life, (Titus 3:5-7).
- He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, for He alone is Sinless.
- You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin, (1 John 3:5).
How do we respond to Him Who Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability?
In recently celebrating our nation’s Independence Day, I came across an article entailing the fate of many of the signers of our Declaration of Independence. Many died in abject poverty, lost homes and families, were captured and tortured as traitors. But they had mutually pledged to each other, “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” And According to their Ability, they sacrificed for a greater cause. The article ended stating a profound truth, “Freedom is never free.”
Our Redemption, secured on our behalf, According to His Ability, brought us tremendous freedom, but was definitely not free. Although a free gift to all who will accept His salvation by faith, the Son of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ paid a great price. He paid for our freedom with His precious blood.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:7).
knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Salvation is His free gift given to us, because we had nothing whatsoever to do with it; He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, and His Ability alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If we have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we have nothing to boast about… except Him!
We set aside days as memorials, to commemorate and honor those who have sacrificed for the good of others; from veterans, to civil servants, to parents. But who has sacrificed anything greater than our Redeemer? And who has accomplished anything as marvelous as our Redemption from sin?
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13).
By His death, we have been set free from the demands of the old covenant, demands we are absolutely incapable of keeping. And because He Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability, we have His guarantee for our eternal inheritance in Him.
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, (Hebrews 9:15).
Let us choose to commemorate and honor Him every day, with all that we are, that we would offer ourselves in order to glorify and honor Him Who Has Redeemed Us According to His Ability.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, (Romans 12:1).
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, (1 Corinthians 6:20).
and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma, (Ephesians 5:2).