Summary: In Nehemiah 11, the people are faced with the challenge of re-populating the holy city of Jerusalem. Since the walls and gates of Jerusalem were now restored, it was important that the builders inhabit their capital city and make the population grow. Now
Nehemiah 11:1, 12:26
In Nehemiah 11, the people are faced with the challenge of re-populating the holy city of Jerusalem. Since the walls and gates of Jerusalem were now restored, it was important that the builders inhabit their capital city and make the population grow. Now some voluntarily chose to move back into the city. Chapters 11-12 is about giving special recognition to the people who moved back into the city to live. These folks were counted as heroes and had a special praise given to them for their commitment to the city and to Israel. Why? Well the answer is simple. Jerusalem is the key for the nation of Israel and its freedom. As long as Jerusalem stands, and the temple is in operation, Israel is a nation and they can worship God as they should. If Jerusalem would fall into the hands of their enemies, and the temple worship should cease, then Israel would fall apart as a nation and go back into slavery. Therefore, the city of Jerusalem was always, and still is to this day, the central focus and the first objective of any outside invasion of an enemy army. Those who lived in the city would always bear the brunt of every invasion. They would always be the first to fight, the first to die, and the first to be taken away as slaves if they were defeated and captured. They would also be the ones who suffer greatly should any invading army decide to lay siege to the city and try to starve them out. Those who did not live in the city would live in relative peace as their homes would never be the main focus of any attack and they would always have the opportunity to run and hide, escaping the slavery that the city dwellers would face. Nearly all of those Jews who had escaped being carried off into Babylon were those who lived outside of the city. They were left alone to till the land and pay the tribute taxes to their conquerors. They lived under the control of their enemy but they weren’t nearly treated as badly as the slaves who were led away captive.
There are several lessons we learn from today’s Scripture. First and foremost, this passage teaches us we are here for one purpose and that’s to be revolutionary. Revolutionary means to go against the accepted norm of the day. We are "revolutionary" because the church is to be the force of God in the world that is infiltrating the forces of darkness and bringing the kingdom of God into our midst in a world which often fights and resists such endeavors. We are revolutionary servants of God carrying forth the mission of God in the world.
Will Willimon, was a long-time professor at Duke University and now is a bishop, wrote a book years ago called "Resident Aliens". The premise of the book is that you are and I are resident aliens, called to be and live differently from the world and yet called also to live in the world. As resident aliens we are called to offer an alternative way of life to the world, one that is so attractive that the world would be attracted to living for Jesus. In other words, we are to be salt in a bland world, light in a world filled with darkness to show the world, there’s a better way.