Summary: If we’re going to build God’s Kingdom in these desperate times, we must all work humbly together.
In a classic episode from The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960’s, Andy Taylor, the sheriff of Mayberry, is out of town. His deputy, Barney Fife, is in charge, and he has deputized Gomer, the local mechanic. The two deputies are walking down the street one evening when they notice that someone is robbing the town's bank. They hide behind a car, scared out of their wits, and don't know what to do. Finally, Gomer looks at Barney and says excitedly, “Shazam! We need to call the police.”
In utter exasperation, Barney shoots back: “We are the police!” (Stephen Mansfield, Mansfield's Book of Manly Men, Nelson, 2013, page 12; www.PreachingToday.com)
Sometimes, we look at our world being robbed of its moral values, and it scares us. Then we realize, “We are the church!” We are the ones God has called to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world. We are the ones God has called to build His Kingdom with new followers of Christ, who have been rescued from the one who came to steal and kill and destroy, i.e., from Satan himself.
It sounds like the days of Nehemiah, when God’s people were charged with rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. You see, Jerusalem was the place where God chose to establish his reputation; but 400 years before Christ, the place was in ruins. God’s reputation had been wrecked, His honor stolen, because His people were disobedient. That opened the floodgates of evil to overtake and destroy the city in the form of the Babylonian Empire. 70 years later, a scattering of God’s people had returned, but nothing much happened for a hundred years. Then God moved in their hearts to rebuild the city and thus reestablish His reputation in the area.
They, like we, had to build God’s Kingdom in tough times. So how do we do it? How do we build the Kingdom of God amidst such darkness to reestablish God’s good name in our land? How do we equip people to follow Christ when the world is pushing them and us in the opposite direction?
Nehemiah 3:1-4 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. (ESV)
Now, I’m not going to take the time to read the whole chapter, because it continues to list the names of various people who worked on various parts of the wall. However, I do want to draw some principles from this chapter, which will help us build God’s Kingdom and reestablish His good name in this place like they had to do then. And the first thing I notice is the number of different kinds of people who worked on the wall.
There were priests (vs.1,22,28), goldsmiths (vs.8, 31-32), perfumers (vs.8), rulers (vs.9,12,14-19), merchants (vs.32), and women (vs.12). Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on Nehemiah, noted that “42 different groups are identified” here in this one chapter alone (Warren Wiersbe, Be Determined, p.39). And that’s the first principle we discover in this chapter. If we’re going to build God’s Kingdom in desperate times, then…
WE MUST ALL WORK.
Every single one of us must do our part to get the job done. Every single one of us must put our hands to the task, not just the leaders, not just the specialists, but every one of us. In fact, Nehemiah’s name is not even mentioned in this chapter!
That’s because it takes all kinds of people to get the job done.
In 1950, Indy car pit crews consisted of four men – including the driver! No one was allowed to get near the car except this small crew of specialists. Do you know how long it took them to replace two tires and fill the tank back then? More than 60 seconds!
Today, an Indy pit crew consists of 11 members – excluding the driver. Six are permitted direct contact with the car. Five serve as behind-the-wall assistants; so that now, a full service pit stop that replaces all four tires, adjusts the wings, and tops off the tank takes less than eight seconds!