As a non-American, I learn a lot about the Bible from the presidential election in the United States. For example, there are Evangelicals or Christians (people who profess to believe in the Bible) who refuse to vote for Mr Trump. Apparently he is rude and offensive.
The record of Governor Nehemiah in the Bible is a reminder to me about how to judge offensive behaviour. Nehemiah, one of the exiled Jews, was cupbearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes, in the city of Susa.
He heard from one of his brothers, Hanani, and others, about the situation in Jerusalem,
‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.’ Nehemiah 1:3
‘When I [Nehemiah] heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.’ Nehemiah 1:4
He asked the Persian king permission to go to Jerusalem to re-build its wall.
Nehemiah was an inspiring leader. The wall was completed in 52 days. Yet at times he was not that gentle and diplomatic. Some examples:
# Eliashib the priest, allowed Tobiah, one of the enemies of the Jews, to live in a room in the temple complex. Nehemiah
‘was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room.’ Nehemiah 13:8
Surely the newspapers reported it in large headlines, ‘Governor Nehemiah throws Tobiah’s goods out of his temple room. Disgusting!’
# When Nehemiah learned about the unfaithfulness of the Jews who married foreign women, he
‘rebuked them and called curses down on them.’ Nehemiah 13:25
Imagine the headlines, ‘Bad Governor rebukes and curses the people. Terrible!’
‘beat some of the men and pulled out their hair.’ Nehemiah 13:25b
O, the horror, the terror, ‘People in hospital due to Governor’s violence. Grave injuries.’
The obstinacy of the people who refused to obey God must have, at times, been too much for Nehemiah. He wanted his people to enjoy God’s blessings. Covenant keeping was the way to prevent the horrors of the Exile. Anybody who thinks the wrath of God on the Jews was a joke, should carefully read the Lamentations of Jeremiah. That was eventually what Nehemiah was fighting against. His last request was to God,
’Remember me with favour, O my God.’ Nehemiah 13:31b
We are sure that is exactly what God did. Maybe one should be very careful not to denounce Nehemiah or President Trump.