Summary: But it isn't just a nation's soldiers who give themselves to a cause, do their duty, pay the price, & then are forgotten or unknown. It happens among the people of God, too. (Powerpoints available - #324)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(This is the tenth of a Leadership series featuring Nehemiah. Some ideas & illustrations in these messages were based on or benefited greatly from, to varying extents, the book “Hand Me Another Brick” by Charles Swindoll.)
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #324.)
ILL. Years ago, while driving down in the old South, I found myself going down a country road which led me by a large, neglected looking cemetery, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere.
Noticing a historical marker by its entrance, I stopped & discovered that it was a Civil War cemetery, containing the bodies of soldiers killed in a battle nearby. So I spent a little time walking through it, looking at the rows upon rows of white crosses, & reading some of the names & the regiments to which they belonged.
There was an old wall running right through its middle, with rows of crosses on both sides. Confederates on one side of the wall, Union soldiers on the other.
I left that cemetery feeling rather depressed. Here were men who had died & been buried far away from their homes & loved ones. In those years right after the Civil War maybe some of their families traveled the long distance to visit their graves, but no more. From the condition of the cemetery it was obvious that very few people visited it any more. Forgotten, unknown, but not to God.
ILL. Years ago my grandfather told me that I had a great, great uncle who fought & died for the South in the Civil War, & that I had another great, great uncle who fought & died for the North. But I don't know their names. You see, as a young kid I never got around to asking my grandfather to tell me more about them. And now for many years it has been too late.
I'll probably never know their names, or where they are buried. I may have walked right past them in that cemetery, & never knew it. Forgotten, unknown, but not to God.
ILL. Ethel & I have also visited Arlington Cemetery at Washington, D.C. Here lie the bodies of veterans of all of our wars. This is not a neglected cemetery, for hundreds of thousands of people visit it every year. Maybe you have been there, too.
It is an awe inspiring sight, there on the hillside above the Potomac River. But to me, most impressive of all was that tomb which is continually guarded, the "Tomb of The Unknown Soldier." In recent years several more bodies have been added to that tomb, one from each of the wars in which our men have died. But on that original tomb are engraved these words, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God"
Their names are not known to us. Yet they, along with many others, shed their blood for us, that our land might be free. Unknown, but not to God.
But it isn't just a nation's soldiers who give themselves to a cause, do their duty, pay the price, & then are forgotten or unknown. It happens among the people of God, too.
I. FAITHFUL SOLDIERS OF GOD ARE OFTEN FORGOTTEN, TOO BUT NOT BY GOD!
For several weeks now we have been following the experiences of Nehemiah & the people of God as Nehemiah leads them in overcoming all kinds of opposition & in rebuilding the walls around the city of Jerusalem. Then, with the help of Ezra, the Scribe, he has led the people in a revival back to God.
A. It was a glorious time in the history of Jerusalem, but Nehemiah & Ezra didn't do it alone. They were joined by a great host of people who dedicated themselves also to the service of God - people who gave themselves to God, did their duty, paid the price - but who are completely unknown to us.
In Nehemiah 11 we find a long list of people whose names are unknown to us not only unknown but almost unpronounceable. I challenge you to go through that 11th chapter & pronounce the names there. For us today it is virtually impossible!
I wish that all Bible names were like David or Daniel. But, unfortunately, they are not, & here we have some of those unknown & unpronounceable names.
B. But before we can understand the 11th chapter of Nehemiah we need to get a little background. And the background is found in the 7th chapter, so let's back up for just a moment & read a few verses there.
Nehemiah 7:1-2 says, "After the wall had been rebuilt & I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers & the singers & the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity & feared God more than most men do."