Scripture Text – Nehemiah 7
A city is much more than walls, gates, and houses; a city is made up of its people. In the first half of Nehemiah’s book, the people existed for the walls; but now the walls must exist for the people. It was time to organize the community so that the citizens could enjoy the quality of life God wanted them to have. God had great things in store for Jerusalem, for one day His Son would walk the city streets, teach in the temple, and ultimately die outside the city walls.
Encouraging Worship – Continued
And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments. Some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments.
So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities. – Nehemiah 7:70-73.
As we serve the Lord, we must always strive to do our best; but without His help, blessing and anointing, even our best work will never last. “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” – Psalm 127:1. Nehemiah knew that there was a desperate need for the people to come back to the Lord and turn away from their secret sins that were grieving Him. Even though Nehemiah was the official representative of a pagan king, he did everything he could to glorify the God of Israel.
One of the key lessons we can learn from this long chapter is that people are important to God. When God wanted to take the next step in His great plan of redemption, He called a group of Jews to leave the place of exile and return to their own land. He gave them encouragement from the prophets and leadership from the people who feared God most and wanted to honor Him in all they did. The Lord didn’t send a band of angels to do the job; He used common people who were willing to risk their futures on the promises of God.
Today, God is still calling people to leave their personal “Babylons,” their personal places of exile and follow after Him by faith. The church today is obviously living in a day of “reproach” (Nehemiah 2:17), and there are “ruins and waste” all around us that need to be rebuilt. David himself asked, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” – Psalm 11:3. The answer is simple and plain: The righteous can rebuild what has been torn down and start over again! If you think that an enemy victory is final, then you have lost your faith in God’s promises. There is always a new beginning for those who are willing seek God’s help and anointing and to pay the price.
Nehemiah, and especially in this section, reminds us that God keeps accounts of His servants. He knows where we came from, what family we belong to, how much we gave, and how much we did for Him; and He calls us by name! When we stand before the Lord, we will have to give an accounting of our lives before we can receive our rewards (Romans 14:7–12); and we want to be able to give a good account. There is not one of us that our Lord is going to “forget.”
A third lesson we must learn is that the Lord is able to keep His work going. The first group of Jewish exiles left Babylon for Judea in 538 B.C. and, in spite of many difficulties and delays, rebuilt the temple and restored the worship. Eighty years later, Ezra and another group returned; and fourteen years after that, Nehemiah arrived and rebuilt the walls and gates. During the days of Zerubbabel, God raised up the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah to give God’s message to His people. No matter how discouraging the situation might be, God is able to accomplish His purposes if we will trust Him and do His will. John Wesley was right when he said that “God buries His workers but continues His work.” We must not be discouraged! God’s work is never finished just because we become frail and unable to continue! We need to remember that, if we truly love God’s perfect will and plans.
Finally, and most important, we must all be sure that we know we are in the family of God. No matter how much the Jews argued or protested, the priests without legitimate genealogies could not enter the temple precincts and minister at the altar. God is not impressed in the eternal scheme of things with our first birth; what He wants is that we experience a second birth and become His children, a people He can call His heirs. If you are not certain of your spiritual genealogy, read John 3:1–18 and 1 John 5:9–13 and make sure that your name is written down in heaven (Luke 10:20; Revelation 21:27).