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Archive for February, 2018

done

In less than two months, the wall Nehemiah had began with the Jews was completed.  Despite at least six attempts to stop the project, Nehemiah’s colleague-enemies found themselves ashamed at their inability to frustrate God’s plans for Nehemiah and his people.  Matthew Henry notes that, “Christian fortitude will be sharpened by opposition.  Every temptation to draw us from duty should quicken us so much the more to duty.”  In other words, true believers do not give up and give in when others plot and scheme against them.  Instead they press in harder, trust God more, and faithfully continue to obey God’s instructions in their lives.  This is the mark of a faithful believer.

Notice how the enemies of Nehemiah’s building project reacted when he completed his mission.  In verse 16, the text says they were afraid, ashamed, and convinced that God was with the Jews.  Just seeing the success of Nehemiah and God’s people was enough to cause these guys to think less of themselves.  Still, instead of making amends and trying to reconcile with those they had been so deceitfully false, they just keep trying to bring Nehemiah down.

When the wall was finished the opposition to building stopped, but these enemies still did not stop trying to intimidate Nehemiah.  Likewise, our enemy will stop at nothing to continually discourage us from living into our calling, even and especially after we experience great success in our obedience to God.  Consider what they do now.

In verse 17, even despite their fear and discouragement at Nehemiah’s success and the fact that they knew it was God’s work that had been completed, the crooked leaders who needlessly despised Nehemiah hatch a new plan.  They begin to correspond with the nobles in Nehemiah’s jurisdiction.  Now Nehemiah has to deal with traitors sharing information with the enemy about him and his work as well as be subject to “overhearing” exaggerated accolades about how wonderful these deceitful men are.

Tobiah was one of the neighboring governors who sought to destroy Nehemiah.  He was related by marriage to these Jewish nobles which provided a perfect pathway for these gossipy, intimidation-intended reports to be circulated throughout Jerusalem.  They doubtless twisted Nehemiah’s true words, truncated his good deeds, mixed lies with some truth to make it believable and then circulated the false letters and reports about him.

Here we see yet another old standby used by Satan.  If he cannot intimidate or discourage God’s chosen vessel from obedience to God, he will do all he can to use the people around that vessel to be false, to make miserable, to slander and discredit, call good evil and evil good, and try to instill fear.

While it must have indeed been irritating and particularly vexing to have people within his own camp speaking so deceitfully and purposefully trying to discourage him, there is no sign that it rattled Nehemiah.  Nehemiah wasn’t into their petty popularity contests and he wasn’t intimidated by them.  Remember, this guy works for the king.  It’s only insecure leaders who lust after power and control that are intimidated by this kind of nonsense.  Nehemiah wasn’t because he already had authority from none other than the king— as do we when we work for the Lord.

Nehemiah simply continues on his mission.  After he completes the wall, the first thing he does is appoint leaders.  A good leader always recognizes the urgency to appoint good leaders and delegate responsibility wisely.  Show me a man who goes out to accomplish work for God and I’ll show you a man who recognizes the urgent necessity of starting out with good leaders.
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Nehemiah understood this necessity and chose men whose good character he knew well.  Chapter 7:2-3 tells us he chose two men and gave them charge over Jerusalem because they were more faithful and God-fearing than others.  That is how a good leader chooses leaders.  It isn’t who runs a better campaign, who is most popular, or who is his bff.  A good leader chooses leaders by how wise, experienced, and godly they are and he does it firstly, not lastly.

Nehemiah not only proves his wisdom in choosing good leaders first, he also proves his lack of false ambition by delegating others to lead.  Nehemiah was continually accused of wanting control and power to oppress, but clearly we see that those claims of his enemies were unwarranted had no merit.  Nehemiah knows he gave his word to return to the king when he was finished with this project so he is setting this city up for the time when he leaves.

He gives a couple instructions to his gatekeepers.  The gates were only to be open in the daytime, and the guards were to secure the gates at all times.  Nehemiah knew the wall wouldn’t protect them if the gates weren’t secure.  Again, he is constantly looking out for the protection and well-being of his people.  That’s just what good leaders do. That’s what Jesus does, and it’s what we must do if we have leadership in any capacity over God’s people.  He who does not care to protect those whom he leads is simply not fit for the job.

 

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hate

In Nehemiah chapter 6, we find the master project of building and restoring Jerusalem’s wall almost completely finished.  It is at this point that those who have opposed Nehemiah’s good work and greatly generous efforts from the start getting desperate to destroy both him and his success.  Let’s consider what they do and how he reacts.

When the three neighboring governors of Nehemiah see that his project is almost complete, they decide to band together to try to bring him down together.  It’s the old, the enemy of my enemy is my friend tactic.  These three guys, Sanballet, Tobiah, and Geshem all despise Nehemiah because all three think the same way.  They’re all jealous and fearful of Nehemiah’s success, his leadership, and his accomplishment because their leadership is sub-par and self-serving while Nehemiah’s is God-driven and selfless.

They realize the danger of having a neighboring governor like Nehemiah.  Instead of friending him, which would make the most sense, they choose to build their own wall of sorts and conspire against him together.  But why?

These guys are doing the same thing the religious men did to Jesus for many of the very same reasons.  They think they will get rid of their “competition.”  Instead of learning from Nehemiah’s strengths and following his good leadership in their own lives, they just want to kill him.  Because they are so insecure and so jealous, they can’t possibly encourage or help their neighbor.  By destroying him they figure they will stay in charge, continue oppressing the people, and have no one holding them accountable.  Even to this day, this is the way men and women who refuse God’s leading lead.  Someone should have told these guys that Nehemiah wasn’t competing with anyone except himself.  Someone should have told them Nehemiah would have been a great friend and asset to their lives if they had just treated him with fairness and respect.  Clearly, it was their loss.

So these guys get together and plot to kill Nehemiah.  They send someone to call for him to come and meet them.

Nehemiah wasn’t stupid.  He knew they were jealous and insecure.  He knew they were plotting harm.  He knew their false call for friendship was a sham.  So Nehemiah refuses to meet them.  He tells them the truth, though, which is, in a nutshell, sorry, guys, I’m busy with God’s work.

Four times they call for him to come and four times Nehemiah says no.  The fifth time Sanballet’s servant brings a letter to Nehemiah which is full of lies about him.  It says he is rebelling against the king and has false ambitions.  Funny thing…those are the very things these men were actually doing yet they accuse Nehemiah of them.

Again, it’s the same story Jesus lived.  It’s the same story you and I will live if we refuse to compromise Jesus as King in the midst of jealous and insecure leaders.  Deceitfully ambitious men will accuse righteous men of being deceitfully ambitious when they are in close proximity.  The reason is their fear of being found out and their absolute refusal to relinquish their ill-gotten, ever-coveted control and position.

Anyone who knew Nehemiah should have known how ridiculous these charges were.  Nehemiah takes not one word of it to heart.  Instead, he simply says, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” (Nehemiah 6:8)  In other words, you’re lying and I’m not buying.

Nehemiah recognizes that his enemies are desperate to stop his good work.  He knows that if he succeeds they will be shown up and proven for the false men that they truly are.  He knows his city will be intact and safe.  I mean, think about it.  These guys had been here ruling long before Nehemiah showed up.  Yet they failed to concern themselves with the real needs of those around them.

Anyway, Nehemiah recognizes that they are using fear tactics and intimidation to discourage and stop him and his progress.  They chose the wrong guy because Nehemiah isn’t scared of anyone but God.  Therefore, Nehemiah debunks the ridiculous claims of these jerks and keeps right on working as the Lord commanded him.

The enemy will stop at nothing to stop us, though.  These guys still aren’t done trying to dissuade Nehemiah from his work and his success.  After the failed attempt to meet with him and kill him, they use a false prophet and false prophetess to tempt him to run away.  They attempt to entrap him by these false “friends” – who were actually hired by the enemy – into doing wrong so they can point at him and discredit his good reputation among all the people.

They use these two people to encourage Nehemiah to run away and hide in the temple in a place his was not authorized to be.  They tell him his life is being threatened – which, it is by these guys!  But it’s just more fear-mongering by these hateful, jealous people.  Their scheme this time is to get Nehemiah scared enough to do wrong.

Nehemiah does right.  Again, Nehemiah fears God alone.  If he’s going to die, he’s going to die with honor, not running and hiding from petty reputation thieves.  He answers this way when he is told to run and hide, “Should such a man as I run away?  And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?  I will not go in.”  Nehemiah 6:11

Nehemiah is saying, um, another man might run and hide, but not me.  I have responsibilities here given to me by God.  I cannot shuck all my duty for safety.  That is not who I am.  Not only that, but going into the temple unworthily doesn’t make me safe.  Dare I disobey my God for the fear of men?  God forbid!  I will not do such a thing!

Now, it is at this point that the text tells us that Nehemiah “…understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.” Nehemiah 6:12  What this implies is that Nehemiah had initially trusted this man and the prophetess as well.  Wisdom and discernment proved these people false to Nehemiah.

Clearly, the enemy will use those we trust to be false to us if they are willing.  There are Judas’s everywhere.  We must be wise and discern who is for us and who is against us by their actions and actual events rather than who we have known or who we have trusted in the past.

After all these attempts to derail and destroy Nehemiah and his work, Nehemiah again does something noble and wise.  He simply asks God to remember the sin of all of his false accusers.  He asks God to hold them accountable and do justice.  Earlier, after he had so generously provided for the people, worked honestly and diligently for them and their betterment, and failed to take his pay and food allowance, he had asked God to remember his good works and selflessness.

With all this remembering Nehemiah is asking God to do, one might wonder if he thinks God is forgetful.  No.  Nehemiah simply trusts God with his rewards and his vengeance.  By asking to remember, he is trusting his faithful Father to do what is right for him in the face of all the sacrifices he has made and the abuse he has endured.  Coincidentally, this is the same thing Christ did.  It is the same thing we must do if we are going to be successful in completing the Lord’s work in this world.  There are always going to be needs among God’s people.  There are always going to be enemies where God’s work is being done.  We are called to be selfless, diligent, noble, and honorable no matter what we are called to accomplish or what the enemy does to discourage us.

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give

Once Nehemiah has dealt with the oppressive infighting and division among his own people (Nehemiah 5:1-13), all the oppressors agree to repent and do good to their brothers.  Verse 13 says, “I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, ‘So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise.  So may he be shaken out and emptied.’ And all the assembly said ‘Amen’ and praised the Lord.  And the people did as they had promised.”  Here is another reminder of how much influence a good, wise, and caring leader has to change things and turn the hearts of men to follow him in doing right.

Beginning in verse 14 , we find even more proof of Nehemiah’s earnest love and care for his people.  During the 12 years that Nehemiah ruled Judah as their governor, neither he nor his men took the food allowance of the governor.  He did not take the pay due the governor.  He acquired no land for himself, supplied servants to help at personal cost, continued to work diligently for the good of the people, and fed 150 men including guests and help at his own expense every day.

This kind of generosity was unheard of from a governor.  Why did Nehemiah give so much and take nothing for himself in this undertaking?  Consider verses 15, 18, and 19.

Nehemiah gave to God’s people and did not take for himself because of the fear of God.  Nehemiah had not only a deep love for his people, but a conscience that led him to do what was best for them at all times.  He knew these people could not afford to pay him and give him extravagant amounts of food.  He, unlike other rulers in the past, did what was right rather than what would burden the people and be most beneficial to him personally.

Secondly, in verse 18 we find Nehemiah giving this way out of mercy.  Again, he sees his people burdened and he has compassion for them.  His compassion leads not to pity toward them, but personal sacrifice and tangible action to relieve their suffering.

Lastly, Nehemiah treated the people better than they could imagine because of his great trust in God’s ultimate rewards.  In verse 19 we see Nehemiah asking the Lord to remember his goodness toward his people.  Nehemiah’s faith leads him to forfeit temporary, fleeting pleasures and comfort in exchange for eternal, permanent rewards.  While not-so-great leaders do the opposite out of complacency and selfishness, here we find what a true, noble, and loving servant of God’s people would really do to help them during trying times.

All of these actions of Nehemiah just remind us of Christ.  He comes from riches to live with and save those suffering on his own volition.  He protects and fights for them in the face of their enemies while reassuring and encouraging them to do the same.  He makes peace among brothers when they are divided.  He takes nothing and gives everything to all who are under his leadership for nothing more than their help, support, and growth.

Nehemiah is an amazing leader.  Because of his success and a big dose of jealousy, neighboring leaders hated Nehemiah.  Those who aren’t looking to grown, learn, and keep getting better generally hate to be shown up – especially by the underdog.  They did all they could to discourage and bring down his project and his morale.  Next we will look at chapter 6 where Nehemiah deals again with those who despise him and his success.

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tug of war of business team. It's a concept of the competition i

In Nehemiah chapter 5, Nehemiah takes a break from dealing with the enemies of God’s people in order to deal with some housecleaning.  Apparently the Jews were dealing not only with foreign oppression and opposition, but civil oppression and opposition as well.  It’s one thing when the world hates and injures us, it’s quite another when it’s our own brothers and sisters in the faith.  These people had both.

So what exactly were the Jews doing to one another that Nehemiah simply could not overlook despite his gargantuan mission to rebuild?

They were exacting interest, forcing one another to mortgage their homes and vineyards, and taking the children of their own people for slaves, using, and selling them.

Those suffering under the hands of their own brothers and sisters appeal to Nehemiah.  They recognize that Nehemiah is a good man with not only the power and position to help them, but the concern and love to attend to their needs.

Nehemiah is BUSY.  He already has the job of building this wall with every person in Jerusalem working under his leadership.  He wasn’t exactly looking for more responsibility.  Still, Nehemiah stops, listens, and immediatelyattends to the needs of his misfortunate brothers.

Men of importance are always busy doing what’s best and most beneficial in their own business and work.  Good men of importance are men of character who will stop, listen, and do all they personally can to correct situations where their workers are divided.  They will do so quickly, without delay, not waiting for time and inertia to allow a root of bitterness and despair to set in.  They will put a stop to all injustice and infighting quickly whenever they become aware of it.

Nehemiah knows what every good leader knows: No matter how great the work you accomplish may be, there can be no peace or happiness in a place where brothers are permitted to abuse and destroy one another without consequence.

Matthew Henry says, “Nehemiah was told of as bad a thing he kindled immediately, reproached the delinquents, incensed the people against them, and never rested til, by all the rough methods he could use, he forced them to reform; for he was a man of a hot and eager spirit.”  

How did Nehemiah deal with this civil abuse?

Firstly, Nehemiah gets angry.  A good leader will be angry at injustice and oppression, especially injustice and oppression against their own people.  The text says he consults with himself.  It is always good to take a good look at our own heart when we become angry and make sure we are righteously angry, not just mad for our own reasons.  Nehemiah was righteously angry about the injustice being done to his own people by his own people.  So, he rebukes them.  He rebukes the nobles, the rulers, and the leaders who are not only allowing these atrocities to take place, but committing these acts themselves.  Nehemiah gives them the specific actions they were guilty of doing.  He doesn’t just say, “You’re bad.  Stop being bad.”  No.  He tells them exactly what they had done and rebukes them for each specific oppressive action.

The men who were being rebuked were silent.  They had not a word to say in their own defense.  Clearly, they were wrong.  Nehemiah knew it, the people knew it, and they knew it.  He tells them again, “The thing that you are doing is not good…”  (Nehemiah 5:9)

Nehemiah called everyone together for this great assembly.  He reasoned with them. He’s like these are your brothers!  You have all just been redeemed and set free from your own oppressors.  This is a great sin you are doing, oppressing the poor!  This hypocrisy and injustice is causing disgrace to fall upon God and giving your enemies great opportunity to bring reproach upon the One True God of the Universe!  These are public statements being made by Nehemiah in the hearing and presence of everyone!  As the New Testament also teaches us, when leaders sin the rebuke is to be public.

Nehemiah doesn’t stop there.  He doesn’t just rebuke them and leave hoping they change.  No.  Nehemiah gets a promise from them.  He’s still not satisfied, though.  Not just with a promise to him or to man.  He calls in the priests and has these erring leaders take an oath and make their promise to the priests before God and the witnesses.  And if that wasn’t enough, Nehemiah goes so far as to lay a curse on those who would not comply or give oath of their repentance.

Notice that Nehemiah doesn’t fault the people who come to him asking for help.  He doesn’t tell them that they deserve the oppression or find reasons why, because they are not absolutely perfect people, they need to just sit down, shut up, and submit to their abusive leadership.  He also doesn’t accuse them of ruining the reputation of their brothers simply because they are telling the truth of the abuse.  Clearly, the oppressors were ruining their own reputation, and not only theirs, but God’s good name by calling themselves Jews and treating their own so poorly.  This was corruption at its worst level, that is, stealing and destroying the families and homes of their own people for dishonest ambition, lust for power, and greedy gain.

Now, there is the example of what a great, just, noble leader does when infighting, oppression, injustice, harm and division is present among his subordinates.  While many leaders today choose to ignore and avoid dealing with these kinds of delicate and difficult problems, their ignorance and cowardice aligns them with those who oppress rather than those who heal and restore.  By ignoring division and failing to deal with civil problems among believers, leaders further oppress, punish their cries for justice, and themselves abuse those who they ought to be serving and protecting.

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wall

Nehemiah 4:15 says that when the enemies of God’s people found out that God had frustrated their plans, the work to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem continued.

God frustrated the plans of those who opposed his people.  And the ones oppressing them found out he did so.  God caused these enemies to recognize that he was behind their inability to harm or stop these builders.  But how did God frustrate their plans to tear down and destroy the project of his people?

God used Nehemiah the prophet to pray, organize the people, arm them, and encourage them to be courageous.  The enemy was counting on intimidation, fear mongering, abuse of authority, and using their positions of power to oppress and arrest the good work of the Lord and His people.

Strong leaders who know they are in God’s will are not intimidated by scare tactics.  In fact, strong leaders who know they are in God’s will are not intimidated by anyone or anything.  Strong leaders trust in God and his promises despite all odds.

At this point the laborers had a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.  We, too, must work and stay armed with God’s Word if we are going to succeed against our enemies.  It is not my opinion or authority over and above anyone else’s or theirs above mine; it is the Word of God over and above all men and it alone is our authority.

Not only that, but the text tells us in verse 16 that their leaders “stood behind them” protecting them and giving them reassurance and support.

Notice that it is a primary job of the leadership of God’s people to stand behind the faithful as they work for the Lord.  How many “leaders” today do just the opposite?  Leaders in the church are not called to discourage God’s people,  tell them they are standing alone, personally avoid the uncomfortable and difficult situations, and fail to offer any encouragement or support while the people are working diligently for the advance of the truth and God’s kingdom.  That’s not what good leaders do in the face of conflict and warfare.  That’s what cowards do.  Leaders in the kingdom are called to stand behind God’s people, encourage, love, and protect them at all costs.

Furthermore, God’s people had a plan.  Since the workers were so widespread and separated, they determined to use a trumpet to call everyone back together.  Not only were they told where to meet, but again the workers were reassured that God was fighting for them by their leader.

The people worked not from dawn til dusk, but from dawn til the stars came out.  That’s quite a workday.  There was great diligence in this building project.  Working so late served a dual purpose, though.  Not only did they get the work done faster, but the armed workers served as protection for their brothers and sisters who were travelling through the city at night.

The workers stayed fully dressed each night and kept their weapons in hand.

This is a great picture of good leadership, wisdom, and readiness.  In the service of the Lord we must always be dressed, armed, working, and ready for enemy attacks.  Leaders ought to always be praying, organizing, encouraging, protecting, and reassuring those who work for the Lord.  Nehemiah 4 gives us a perfect picture of what we are all to be – Christian soldiers.

“We must watch always against our spiritual enemies, and not expect that our warfare will be accomplished till our work is.” Matthew Henry

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success
In Nehemiah chapter 4, we find the enemies of God’s people becoming increasingly angry.  The Jews have begun to rebuild their city walls and gates under the direction of Nehemiah, and have already made some significant strides in that work.  As soon as the neighboring Gentile rulers hear of their progress, their anger at these people becomes even more intense.

In verse 1 we find Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, become enraged and begin to mock and jeer at the Jews.  He tells everyone he knows including his army about the work of the Jews and pokes fun at them.  Funny how he tells everyone what a crappy job these guys are doing and how their wall isn’t strong enough for even a fox to stand on, yet he is angry about their progress.  Well, which is it?  Why would the ruler of an army be mad about a bunch of fools who aren’t accomplishing anything?  Apparently this guy was insecure and afraid that the Jews were indeeding succeeding…which they were, by the way.  He was jealous and angry so he set out to stop them anyway he could.  What he didn’t know was that he couldn’t stop them because this was God’s work.

Nehemiah realizes what is happening with his enemies and he prays.  He prays a curse on them and he continues to do exactly that which God gave him to do.

Nevertheless, Sanballet and his big, bad temper decides to try to pick a fight with these guys.  He calls on all his ruler friends to help him cause confusion and problems for God’s people.

Again Nehemiah and the Jews pray.  This time they pray day and night for protection against their enemies.

In verses 10-12 we see the odds stacked against the Jews.  They didn’t think they could accomplish the job.  Their enemies didn’t think they could accomplish the job, and just in case they could, they were doing all they could to make sure of it.  Even their friends urged them “ten times” to stop trying.  This is a sad scene for God’s people!

Good thing they had a good leader who was resolved to do what God sent him to do.  Nehemiah gave the people each specific positions with their families and their weapons, and he encouraged them to remember God and fight with honor for the things that are most important: God; family; community; home.

What do you do when you have a really hard job to accomplish?  When the enemy is mocking and making war against your success?  When you doubt your own ability to succeed and everyone is telling you to quit?  Consider what Nehemiah did.

  1. Nehemiah prayed.  If you know that what you’re doing is God’s will and God’s holy work for you, pray for help and protection in it.
  2. Nehemiah organized his people and his plan.  He put groups of families together in order to strengthen their morale and give them confidence.  If you are working for the Lord, don’t work alone.  Get organized and find a group of people who love and support, and help you and always have your defenses in hand.  Our weapons are the sword of the Spirit, the Word, and the promises of God.
  3. Nehemiah reminded the people to remember whose idea this work was.  He told them to remember God.  He wanted them to remember to trust God and to know that he was the one behind this plan so they would not doubt or get discouraged in the hardships.  When God’s work gets hard and you come up against obstacles and enemies, it is always helpful to remember whose work it really is.  When we are doing God’s work and God’s will, we have nothing to fear because Our God is trustworthy.  Remember that.  When we remember that, we also remember that there is great honor in striving, working, and fighting hard for the things that matter, namely, God’s glory, the good of our families and communities, and our homes.If you are leading a group of people like this one, pray, organize, and encourage them in the Lord.  This is a great model to follow in difficult circumstances…or any circumstances!  If you are part of a group like this one, pray, organize, and encourage yourself and others in the Lord.

    Pray.  Organize.  Encourage yourself and others in the Lord.  This is the way to defeat the Enemy.

    “…Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”  ~Nehemiah 4:14

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rebuild
The work the Lord burdened Nehemiah to accomplish finally begins in Nehemiah chapter 3.  There are quite a few things to note in how this work was carried out and by whom.  Let’s consider how the people of God began to rebuild their gates and walls as a unified community that we might glean some wisdom and insight for our own undertakings within our own communities.

Beginning in Nehemiah 3:1, we find the high priest and all the priests next to him begin the work.  Here, we have a picture of how godly men should lead.  Godly men ought to always lead by their good example.  When their is work to be done, ministers may indeed delegate it, but they must always also be willing to participate in it.  Far too many spiritual leaders today want to lead with their positions and power plays rather than by example.  A good leader will always do just that…literally lead in any profitable undertaking with his own two hands.

Secondly, we find that many men and women from neighboring communities came to help rebuild Jerusalem.  We find the people of Jericho, Gibeon and Mizpah, Zanoah, Beth-hacecerem, Beth-zur, and Keilah all coming together to help this effort.  Surely we should help those close to our community when they are in need in addition to serving our own.

In verse 12 we find a family helping.  Notice, too, that this was a father and his daughters.  Here was a man who was part ruler of Jerusalem coming, helping, and bringing his girls to help.  Not only did he not think himself above the effort because of his high position, he brings his whole family… of girls!  What a great picture of inclusion and unanimity among the builders of this wall.  Many a man with daughters and not sons may keep his girls from getting dirty and feel awkward to bring them along, but here we see just the opposite in God’s perfect Word.

Notice who else we find building in verses 8 and 32: the goldsmiths, the apothecaries, and the merchants.  These were the business owners; the blue collar men who made everything for everyone else to buy and use.  These guys didn’t use their businesses as an excuse not to show up.  They closed their shops or they went after hours to help this work get done because they considered it more important than making money or being open every single day of the year.  If shop owners can commit to the common good in their trade, they can commit to the common good as God commands outside of their trades as well.

Next, we find men working on this building project opposite their own houses.  How about that!  How many people do you know that would forfeit their time and money to work next door while they look across the street at all that needs done at home?  This is quite a testimony of the character and faithfulness these people had to accomplish God’s work first and their own needs second.

Finally, in verse 5, we find that not everyone was on board.  There was one particular group singled out as not being willing to serve their Lord.  The nobles of the Tekoites “would not stoop to serve their Lord.”  Here, the nobles were not noble, but full of pride which led only to disgrace for them and their name.  The reproach of being named here is shameful and it goes to prove how when we refuse to work with others in unity and harmony out of nothing more than sheer pride and arrogance we will be disgraced publicly for our stubborn selfishness…and rightly so!    Let that never be said of us!  If we cannot humble ourselves to serve God, we will never humble ourselves to serve anyone else.  Every good thing we do will always be self-serving thus rendering it purposeless and void of any wholesome “good.”

There will always be those who will refuse to do right even when everyone around them is working together toward a common goal.  There will always be dissenters and dividers among the true people of God.  But, by and large, when the people of God work together in love and obedience to Him, the work gets done, God is glorified, and we are blessed.  As Matthew Henry says, “If everyone will sweep before his own door, the street will be clean; if every one will mend one, we shall be all mended.”  

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