Summary: Evaluating the Results of God’s Vision
Evaluating the Results
The book of Nehemiah divides neatly into two parts. Chapters one through five describe the rebuilding of the wall. From these chapters we learn the process of vision. Chapters six through thirteen describe the finished product. From these chapters we learn the results of vision. Note that the results of Nehemiah’s project are so dramatic that they take almost twice as much time to describe as the project itself.
1) Completion of the Vision
One of the proofs that God was in Nehemiah’s work was the completion of the wall:
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. (Nehemiah 6:15)
One of the proofs that God is at work in His church is the completion of the vision. A half-completed vision is not the goal. We serve a God who majors in follow-through and completion. Look at what Paul says:
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Remember God’s response after He created the world:
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 1:31 2:2)
God did not rest until the world was completed. God does not stop working on us until we are completed. God does not quit working on His vision for His church until it is completed.
2) Demonstration of God’s Work
The completing of the wall had an obvious effect on those who saw it.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:16)
When a God thing starts happening in a church, even the enemies of the church know it is a God thing.
When a vision is working, it is obvious that God is the One at work because there is no other possible explanation other than God.
3) Continued Opposition and Criticism
You would think that by the time Nehemiah had finished his project, the criticism and opposition would have stopped. Even as the wall is being finished, the critics are still at it.
in which was written: "It is reported among the nations--and Geshem says it is true--that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king (Nehemiah 6:6)
They even went as far as to hire spies and false prophets and plant them in Nehemiah’s camp.
I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. (Nehemiah 6:12-13)
Opposition is at least evidence that there is something going on worth opposing. Being criticized does not means you will be blessed; being blessed does mean that you will be criticized.
If you are not seeing any opposition and not getting any criticism, then God is not at work.
4) Major Contributions by the People
Chapter seven is almost an emotional letdown. The first five chapters have been action packed as Nehemiah enacts his vision. Chapter six is the bow on the package. Then in chapter seven you get—a list.
At first it is a list of the returning exiles, but as you read on through the rest of the chapter, it is also a list of the people who worked on the wall and all that they gave.
When vision catches on, people will contribute.
By the end of chapter twelve the people are giving in record-setting ways:
So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron. (Nehemiah 12:47)
Look closely at that verse. The same people who, in chapter five, complained that they did not have food to eat or money to pay their taxes, are now giving in record-setting ways.
If there is any doubt left about their commitment to giving, chapter thirteen tells us that the entire nation—not just Jerusalem—is giving as well:
All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and oil into the storerooms. (Nehemiah 13:12)
5) Renewed Commitment to Worship and Obedience