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Faithlife

Nehemiah 3:1-32

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is a long list of those who built the wall and their alloted sections.
This may very well be the list that Nehemiah drew up as he planned the project.
It moves us around the walls of Jerusalem in a counter-clock-wise direction.
Section by section, beginning and ending at the Sheep Gate.
The account isn’t simply a list of builders that long dead and gone,
but of those who built the wall
to outlast their own time and to commemorate to us
God’s past faithfulness,
His present help, and
assurance of His future blessing.
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The point of this account is to show that the people as a whole
responded to Nehemiah’s challenge and
believed God would give them success.
Suddenly, we find ourselves on a building site.
No sooner have we been roused by Nehemiah’s stirring call to build—“Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem” ()—
than we find priests and lay folk, trowel in hand, hard at work building the “Sheep Gate” (3:1).
You can almost hear the sound of tools hammering at stone, and saws cutting huge beams of wood.
Let’s be honest: this chapter, with its list of builders,
looks like something that belongs in an appendix
at the back of a book!
But this is the Bible, where things are done differently.
We therefore need to pause before examining this chapter to ask:
What possible interest,
except to civil engineers with a fixation for detail,
does this chapter hold for us?
We know what the NT says about the OT
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Just as we have been doing lately Paul in 1 Corinthians, applies the events in Israel’s early history to the Corinthian Christians (v. 6).
Paul alludes to four episodes from the exodus account when he exhorts them
not to be idolaters (v. 7),
not to be sexually immoral (v. 8),
not to put Christ to the test (v. 9), and
not to complain (v. 10).
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The Corinthian Christians must make sure they do not repeat Israel’s mistakes.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So we draw comfort from the OT Scriptures, we
learn by the OT Scriptures.
We are warned of certain examples of who not to emulate in the OT Scriptures.
We are warned of certain examples, of who not to emulate in the OT Scriptures.
There are doctrines, and reproof, and correction, and instruction in righteousness in the OT Scriptures
There are doctrines, and reproof, and correction, and instruction in righteousness in the OT Scriptures
so that we can be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So let’s look at this chapter in the OT the way that the NT instructs us to.
This part of Nehemiah’s account is a glimpse into God’s Old Testament church in action, and
Christians who love God’s church (and all Christians should love God’s church)
find this chapter exciting and suggestive:
Exciting because here we see an example of what the church can be,
a powerful and united force
attempting and accomplishing great things for God;
Suggestive because it tells us that this should not be an isolated incident in the life of the church
but a powerful incentive to learn from the example shown here and
be equally active fulfilling God’s call for us in our own time.
The title of the message is: We are Partner’s in the Work of God.
Let’s look first of all at
There are certain expressions used by Nehemiah over and over again which may serve as a key enabling us to enter into the spiritual principles of this chapter.
For example, such phrases as
‘next to him’ (3:4 [twice], 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31),
‘next to them’ (3:2, 7, 27, 29, 30),
‘beyond him’ (3:16),
‘beyond them’ (3:23) and
‘beside him’ (3:17) are used over twenty times in all.
Each man and every group had a definite place of work assigned to them.
Each person knew where he belonged and what was expected of him.
Some laborers had to rebuild their section of the wall from scratch;
others only needed to make repairs.
Another set of recurring phrases are
‘in front of their house’ (3:23),
‘each in front of his own house’ (3:28),
‘opposite his house’ (3:29),
‘opposite his living quarters’ (3:30) and
‘beside his house’ (3:23).
The builders did not waste valuable time commuting from one end of Jerusalem to the other.
This practical arrangement meant that it was easy for the workers to be fed and also that in the event of attack each man was at hand to protect his own family.
Thus each person was relieved from undue anxiety and pressure and was free to give of his best to the task appointed to him by Nehemiah.
It is beneficial if each laborer sets himself goals towards which he strives rather than working without any clear direction.
It is beneficial if each laborer sets himself goals towards which he strives rather than working without any clear direction.
Spiritual leaders ought to anticipate potential problems and diffuse any possible causes of disunity,
so that every member can channel all his efforts into the ministry of the local church.
How does someone do that here? Well, we know that our mission is the Great Commission, which to to make disciples.
Our church carries out the Great Commission through our Vision (which is on the front of the Bulletin)
We want every believer to be coordinated to Exalt Christ, Equip the Saints, and Extend Christ to those with out hope!
The way to make progress in the building of God’s city is for every worker to know precisely the undertaking assigned to him by God’s Word.
Every worker for Christ has his/her marching orders from Scripture: So we position ourselves to intentionally live out
Love one another ()
Be joined to one another ()
Be joined to one another ()
4. Be devoted to one another ()
Be devoted to one another ()
5. Honor one another ()
Honor one another ()
6. Rejoice with one another ()
Rejoice with one another ()
Weep with one another ()
7. Weep with one another ()
Care for one another ()
Serve one another ()
.Care for one another ()
15. Serve one another ()
Carry one another’s burdens ()
16. Carry one another’s burdens ()
Be kind to one another ()
17. Be kind to one another ()
Forgive one another ()
18. Forgive one another ()
Submit to one another ()
19. Submit to one another ()
So part of our plan of building God’s people right here is to intentionally place ourselves in the stream of God’s Command (in these “one another’s” of Scripture) to carry out the mission given to all believers.
The rebuilding of FBCR is only going happen if we are unified.
Its eventual success will depend entirely on team work.
People from a wide variety of different backgrounds, trades and localities will work together on this shattered wall.
God has made it so that we are interdependent partners in the mission!
None of us was meant to live to ourselves. We all need exemplary, supportive and edifying partners.
Division is one of the most tragic abnormalities in the life of a local church.
Jerusalem’s new walls were only possible because of unified team work.
Second we are all
We are unified on the same mission but we are all a distinct people.
Nehemiah mentions
the priests (3:1) and
the rulers (e.g. 3:12, 16, 17);
neither group thought it was beneath their dignity to dirty their hands
alongside the working people
to put up the wall of Jerusalem.
The goldsmiths, renowned for their intricate craftsmanship, turned their hands to the cumbersome chore of bricklaying (3:8, 31).
Perfume-makers (3:8),
temple servants (3:26),
merchants (3:32) and
‘the guard at the East Gate’ (3:29)
all played a role in the building project.
In the same manner every Christian has some contribution to make in the Lord’s work.
God uses retired folks, home makers, construction workers, law mowers, computer guys, grandpas/ grandmas, mothers, fathers and children to build!
Here’s how Paul puts it,
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. — 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
God alone who grants gifts to his people and that he selects the sphere of service for each one of them.
We ought not to covet someone else’s gift, or despise and neglect the gift which we have received from him.
Another element we see in this Co-Operation is that people cam from eight different places (not just from Jerusalem.
They came from a 15-20 mile radius to repair the walls.
These folks certainly had their own fields to cultivate, and farms and workshops to be maintained.
Leaving it all behind in order to offer themselves for service in the work of God.
What occurred in this enterprise was something that is rarely seen:
merchants (),
security officials (v. 29),
city officials (vv. 9, 12, 14–19),
priests (vv. 1, 22, 28),
Levites and temple servants (vv. 17, 26, 31),
women (v. 12), and
union men (vv. 8, 31–32)
are seen working on respective sections of the wall. What we see here is unity in action.
The people of God, more or less, are –… stand[ing] fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
Church unity is a very precious thing and should be prized when it is found.
It is a beautiful thing to behold, and I pray that you desire, that this spirit of cooperative effort were more prevalent in our own church.
The work in which we are engaged, no less than for the folks in Nehemiah’s time, is God’s work.
We are building the kingdom of God together by the help of God’s Spirit and to the glory of the Lord.
In which this passage truly illustrates what we’ve called every-member ministry.
This event in the life of the people of God in the Old Testament dramatically illustrates something that Paul unfolds in his letter to the Ephesians:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
The unique and distinguishable gifting of “pastor-teachers” is given in order to equip every member of the body of Christ to do the work of ministry.
The view that spiritual ministry is the task of the elders or some specially trained group—
the rest perhaps given to prayer and making coffee—
is an unbiblical, pompous mentality.
To take the football analogy we used before (HUDDLE)
It can be said that today the churches more than anything else resemble a football game played in a large stadium.
There are eighty thousand spectators in the stands who badly need some exercise,
and there are twenty-two men on the field who badly need a rest.
Then you have the:
Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.
These nobles had no intentions of dirtying their hands.
That phrase “did not put their shoulders to the work” shows us that it was a pride issue rather than a lazy issue.
It is agricultural imagery, describing the ‘stiff-necked’ ox refusing to be yoked.
Is it below your dignity to come and make disciples?
Pride is a cruel enemy. It inflates our self-importance and makes holiness impossible.
They could not humble themselves and would not serve.
They definitely were not led by the Spirit who spoke through Jesus saying,
“For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” ().
And as we think of our blessed Lord Jesus look at Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors...
Here is the high-priest, the first to put his hand to the work of the Lord.
The Sheep Gate led to the temple, so naturally this is where the priest are called to work.
How must is like our blessed Lord Jesus? His Almighty hand must be the first among all of the spiritual builders:
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it...
All such principles find their meaning in the promised Seed
All such principles find their meaning in the promised Seed
who came from these workers,
the One who unifies a people from many nations,
who humbled himself as a servant of all,
even unto death: Jesus Christ.
In short, in God’s wise providence Jerusalem and its people quietly prepared the way for a new building project,
a spiritual one that brought all God’s saving purposes down through history
into culmination at a single point:
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
, what a picture of God’s people building together!
The many details create a vivid illustration that serves as a forerunner of the apostle Paul’s teaching
that all the members of the body are necessary and must work as one ().
Here too is enacted Paul’s admonition to “esteem others better than yourselves” ()
Then in vv6-11 we can just imagine what interesting work it must have been because we find goldsmiths and perfumers engaged in it.
This is how the servants of the Lord serve His house. Who are we supposed to find building God’s house today?
Christ gives, “pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ”
You are equipped to build!
Then in vv13-32 These laborers were all worthy of being recorded, or else their names wouldn’t have been recognized by the Holy Spirit.
Teaching us that NONE who serve in the service of God and His people, shall be overlooked!
The smallest offering, in His cause, becomes a precious one: and God isn’t unrighteous to forget the labor of love.
— ... For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.
Sin God forgets (for those that are saved!) but the works of disciple-making and labors of love all done unto Him and His interest: God never forgets!
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Maybe you didn’t think of yourself as having influence, but you do!
but you do! You are created in God’s own image, and God is
You are created in God’s own image, and God is so weighty that even
the impress of His image bears weight.
so weighty that even the impress of his image bears weight.
Your life impacts the people around you, even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, or you don’t feel respected by the people around you.
bottom of the totem pole, or you don’t feel respected by the
people around you.
Consider how Peter instructs the wives of unbelieving husbands (:1). He knows that both possess influence by their faithfulness.
or the wives of unbelieving husbands (;
3:1). He knows that both possess influence by their faithfulness.
Wives of non-Christian husbands, Peter says, can win those husbands “without a word by the conduct” of their lives.
those husbands “without a word by the conduct” of their lives.
And the example for each is Jesus Christ. Through his suffering,
he brought healing and life (2:21–25).
In other words, you will have influence through the gifts that God has given you in creation.
But more than that, you can have gospel influence, and amazingly,
have gospel influence, and amazingly, making a gospel impact
making a gospel impact in people’s lives
in people’s lives doesn’t come only through your strengths, but
doesn’t come only through your strengths,
but also through your weakness.
also through your weakness. God does this so that his power
God does this so that His power would be displayed through our weakness and he would receive all the glory (see ).
would be displayed through our weakness and he would receive
all the glory (see ).
So, again, you have influence. How will you use yours?
When you step out of the hallway of this life into the room of eternity, what will you have left behind in the lives of others?
eternity, what will you have left behind in the lives of others?
According to the Bible, a disciple of Christ disciples others by helping them to follow Christ.
by helping them to follow Christ. Is that how you are exercising
Is that how you are exercising your influence?
These who labored in Nehemiah’s time found rich rewards in working joyfully together and got to leave behind something that would outlive their days.
your influence?
In time, the workers all dies but the walls remained.
To the generations that will follow, when they gaze upon our labors, which will have a voice…may it say to them, God is faithful to His Word!
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
Oh how eternally rich the reward will be in glory
for those who spent their days here (not serving ourselves but) serving others.
Unlike Nehemiah’s project, your labors will be indestructible!
But let us take heed: — 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
May everything we do, be all for Christ and according to His Word! For the glory of God alone!
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