Ellen G. White Writings

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Conflict and Courage, Page 267

Remember the Poor, September 18

Nehemiah 5:1-13

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, ... thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need. Deuteronomy 15:7, 8.

At times following the return of the exiles from Babylon, the wealthy Jews had gone directly contrary to these commands. When the poor were obliged to borrow to pay tribute to the king, the wealthy had lent them money, but had exacted a high rate of interest. By taking mortgages on the lands of the poor, they had gradually reduced the unfortunate debtors to the deepest poverty. Many had been forced to sell their sons and daughters into servitude; and there seemed no hope of improving their condition, no way to redeem either their children or their lands, no prospect before them but ever-increasing distress, with perpetual want and bondage. Yet they were of the same nation, children of the same covenant, as their more favored brethren....

As Nehemiah heard of this cruel oppression, his soul was filled with indignation.... He saw that if he succeeded in breaking up the oppressive custom of exaction he must take a decided stand for justice. With characteristic energy and determination he went to work to bring relief to his brethren.

The fact that the oppressors were men of wealth, whose support was greatly needed in the work of restoring the city, did not for a moment influence Nehemiah. He sharply rebuked the nobles and rulers, and when he had gathered a great assembly of the people he set before them the requirements of God touching the case....

This record teaches an important lesson. “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). In this generation the desire for gain is the absorbing passion.... We were all debtors to divine justice, but we had nothing with which to pay the debt. Then the Son of God, who pitied us, paid the price of our redemption. He became poor that through His poverty we might be rich. By deeds of liberality toward His poor we may prove the sincerity of our gratitude for the mercy extended to us.28Ibid., 647-652.

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