Summary: There were 44 separate groups of people working for the overwhelming task of rebuilding the walls. Without them working together they culd not have rebuilt the walls reminding us that we can accomplish more together than if just one person tried to do all
Recharge Your Work
Nehemiah 3: 1-4,6-8, 31-32
At first glance, Nehemiah chapter 3 looks a bit dry. One commentator refers to it as a "colorless memorandum of assignments." It’s a list of people and their assignments in re-building the wall of Jerusalem. It reads much like the book of 1 Chronicles with its long lists of names that are difficult to pronounce, information that seems redundant, and a chronology that seems meaningless. At first look, it may be tempting to skip this Chapter, but it contains some great insights and principles that have direct application to our lives today. There were 44 separate groups of people working for the overwhelming task of rebuilding the walls. Without them working together they culd not have rebuilt the walls reminding us that we can accomplish more together than if just one person tried to do all the work. Twenty eight times the expressions "next to him," "next to them," "after him," and "after them." are recorded in this chapter teaching us that every person is to be involved in ministry because everyone has a job to do. The next three week’s messages are about who God uses to rebuild the walls. Now there are several things we learn about our work from today’s reading.
First, we must put God first. Take a look at verse 1: "Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place…" It’s no accident that the list begins with the Sheep Gate. Starting on the Sheep Gate was another way of saying, "Put God first." Close to the wall’s northeast corner, this gate provided easy access to the Temple, and was given this name because of all the sheep that entered through it to be sacrificed. By beginning here, Nehemiah is establishing that their worship and relationship with God was central to their life. Wherever we are or whatever we are doing, start first with God. We must make sure we are dedicated to God before we begin working for Him. Don’t make the mistake of focusing so much on the work or the task that you forget God Himself. God is not impressed with your labor. He wants your heart. That’s why worship must always precede work. It’s been said that this was a soft option for the priests but in reality this is the most vulnerable part of the city. On all other sides, the city was surrounded by steep valleys, except on the north. And so it was incumbent on Eliashib to fortify this location. So the place that they were most vulnerable is also the place which centered their worship. And the times when we are most vulnerable are those when we are not centered on our worship before we begin our work.
Second, God uses all kinds of people. Take a look at verse 8: "Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that…" The Lord didn’t need a 1000 masons and carpenters to rebuild the wall he needed ordinary people who were willing to work. People from a wide variety of different backgrounds, trades, and localities gathered to work on the wall. The rulers and priests worked together with regular people. Those who lived near the walls worked with those who lived 10-15 miles away. There was a place for everyone, and a job for everyone to do. One of the key words in this chapter is the word "section." It’s used 13 times. The wall was divided and people were assigned a certain section to work on. Likewise, just as no one person could construct the whole wall by himself, so too, you and I are called to work in a certain part of the kingdom. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.