EVERYONE MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR SHARE OF GOD’S WORK – PARTNERSHIP IN MUTUAL MINISTRY GETS THE JOB DONE
All of Scripture is equally inspired … does not mean that all of Scripture is equally interesting or even equally helpful. This is one of those grind-it-out chapters providing a ton of detail. We just want to extract the higher level principles that will be helpful to us. Probably not part of your Bible memory program.
Charles Swindoll has preached effective insights from God’s Word for decades. He wrote a book on Nehemiah (Hand Me Another Brick). He completely skipped Nehemiah 3.
We are not going to skip Chap. 3 – In fact there are some valuable insights here for us.
Look at map – started at the Sheep Gate in NE corner – worked around in counter-clockwise fashion – ending back up at the Sheep Gate = place closest to the temple where the sheep were brought in to be sacrificed – All about access to the Holy God – the privilege we have of worshiping Him and bearing a testimony to Him – that privilege must be protected and promoted
6 PRINCIPLES OF PARTNERSHIP IN MUTUAL MINISTRY
I. STARTS WITH CONSECRATION TO THE LORD
Must start here: vs 1 “they consecrated it” – set apart to a sacred cause or service
Have to start somewhere – Note that the high priest and the key spiritual leaders set the example for all of the people; such physical work was not above them; they fully participated and led the way
Not motivated from pride or selfish ambition or trying to establish a name for yourself
Foundation of all we do is Jesus Christ – otherwise walls will just fall down again
Paul was careful regarding how he built – we are to follow his example
1 Cor. 3:10-15
Any project undertaken for the Lord must be fully consecrated to Him – to His glory
We cannot do anything for the Lord until first our own lives have been set apart for the Lord to direct and use as He would see fit
Rom. 12:1 “Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”
Kidner: When it was complete, the entire wall would be dedicated in a ceremony of processions, songs and sacrifices (12:27ff).
II. STRATEGICALLY FOCUSES ON THE AREA THAT MOST DEMANDS YOUR PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT
“in front of his house”
What better motivation than to throw yourself into work that is most appropriate for you
Everybody is not performing the same work – but is contributing to the overall goal
Another example of the use of our spiritual gifts for the good of the entire body – do the work that God wants you to be doing – don’t have to go around trying to critique or fix everybody else’s work …
Perhaps some application to the connection between maintaining a godly home as the base of your ministry and service; you cannot neglect your home and then go try and serve; our home must first be consecrated to the Lord and protected; then that becomes the base for our ministry
Kidner: The word repaired will now dominate the chapter. . . a general term meaning “to make firm or strong”. It does not necessarily mean restoring everything as before. In fact Nehemiah shortened the wall due to all of the debris and kept the line more on the high ground, instead of extending to the bottom valley near the Gihon spring.
III. SHARES THE WORK ACROSS EVERY SEGMENT OF GOD’S PEOPLE – ALL PULLING THEIR WEIGHT
“Next to him” = key phrase – linked arm in arm; yoked together in ministry; no gaps
– high priest and all the other priests, Levites – religious leaders rolled up their sleeves and labored alongside everyone else
– political officials
– Both men and women — look at reference to “he and his daughters” vs. 12
– all types of trades – doing work outside of their main area of expertise
– goldsmiths vs. 8, 32
– merchants vs. 32
– perfumers vs. 8
– all levels of economic status
– poor common folk
– rich nobles – more of a challenge for them – look at the one negative comment
Vs. 5 “but their nobles did not support the work of their masters”
– all ages – multiple generations
– some people did more work than others (3:11, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30)
– some people worked harder than others – example of Baruch in 3:20
Wiersbe: The Hebrew word means “to burn or glow” and suggests that Baruch burned a lot of energy! “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10)
– people restored from previous wrongdoing – given a second chance – Malchijah (3:11) – cf. Ezra 10:31 – had submitted to Ezra’s demand to forsake mixed marriages
It was not just Jerusalem’s citizens who rebuilt the walls. Volunteers came from outlying areas:
Jericho, Gideon, Tekoa, Mizpah, Zanoah, Beth Halkerem, Beth Zur and Keilah. They saw the value in supporting God’s kingdom program.
Look at the “one another” passages speaking of mutual ministry
Redpath: The entire population responded to Nehemiah’s plea for help and cooperation, and this account shows a warm-hearted and enthusiastic spirit. Each had his own particular job to do, and no one was envious of the job that somebody else did. Each was satisfied with his particular assignment, and every section of the wall was cared for.
Are all of us pulling our weight in the building of God’s church?
IV. SHAMES THOSE WHO HAVE DIVIDED LOYALTIES AND DON’T PULL THEIR WEIGHT
Vs. 5 “Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.”
Case of divided loyalties – you cannot serve God and Mammon
Or maybe simply a matter of pride – thinking too highly of themselves as though manual labor was beneath them
Tekoa – town 10-12 miles south east of Jerusalem in Judah; largely a wilderness on the range of hills which rise near Hebron and stretch toward the Dead Sea –
Fensham: could easily be attacked by Geshem the Arab
MacArthur: Cf. 6:17-19 Nehemiah added a footnote that in the days of building the wall, the nobles of Judah who refused to work (3:5) were in alliance and correspondence with Tobiah because, although his ancestors were Ammonites (2:19), he had married into a respectable Jewish family. Shemaiah was from the family of Arah (Ezr 2:5); his son Jehonanan was the son-in-law of Meshullam who shared in the work of building (3:4, 30). According to 13:4, the High-Priest, Eliashib, was related to Tobiah (which is a Jewish name). The meddling of these nobles, by trying to play both sides through reports to Tobiah and to Nehemiah (v. 19), only widened the breach as Tobiah escalated efforts to frighten the governor.
Vs. 27 causes some folks to do extra labor to pick up the slack
“After them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.”
V. SALUTES EACH WORKER FOR MAKING A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION — SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NAMES OF THE WORKERS
Redpath: In the Hebrew tongue, a man’s name was often descriptive of his character. That was true of God, also. The name of God always reveals the character of God – so here with these names.
(:1) Eliashib – “God restores” – Ryrie: energetically helped Nehemiah in constructing the walls, but later caused him trouble by allowing alliances with the Samaritans (13:4)
(:2) Men of Jericho –
(:2) Zaccur – “mindful”
(:3) Sons of Hassenaah – “to prick, thorny”
(:4, 21) Meremoth – “elevations” – two sections
(:4, 30) Meshullam the son of Berechiah – “friend” – two sections
Probably of humble means; lived in a smaller chamber – like a studio apartment; but not insignificant when it came to performing the work of the Lord
(:4) Zadok, son of Baana – “righteous” –
(:5) Tekoites – “trumpet blast” – birthplace of Amos
(:6) Jehoida – “Jehovah knows”
(:7) Melatiah – “Jehovah delivered” – a Gibeonite
(:7) Jadon – “thankful” — the Meronothite,
(:7) Men of Gibeon – “hill city”
(:7) Men of Mizpah – “watchtower”
(:8) Uzziel – “my strength is God”
(:8) Hananiah, one of the perfumers – “God has favored”
(:9) Rephaiah – “tower, raised platform, pulpit”
(:10) Jedaiah – “praised of Jehovah” —
(:10) Hattush — ?
(:11) Malchijah – “my king is Jehovah”
(:11) Hashub – “considerate”
(:12) Shallum – “retribution”
(:13) Hanun – “gracious”
(:13) Inhabitants of Zanoah – “cast off”
(:14) Malchiah – “my king is Jehovah”
(:15) Shallun – “retribution”
(:16) Nehemiah – “Jehovah comforts” – refers to another Nehemiah
(:17) The Levites
(:17) Rahum – “compassion”
(:17) Hashabiah – “Jehovah has considered”
(:18) Bavai – “my goings”
(:19) Ezer – “treasure”
(:20) Baruch – “blessed” – some worked more zealously than others! All of the effort expended was not equal
(:22) The priests, the men of the plain
(:23) Benjamin – “son of the right hand” Deut. 33:12 “Of Benjamin he said, ‘May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him, who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders.’”
(:23) Hasshub –
(:23) Azariah – “Jehovah has helped”
(:24) Binnui – “built up”
(:25) Palal – “judge”
(:25) Pedaiah – “Jehovah has ransomed”
(:26) temple servants living in Ophel
(:28) The priests
(:29) Zadok son of Immer – “righteous” – we need to sure we are strong in integrity
(:29) Shemaiah – “heard of Jehovah”
(:30) Hananiah, son of Shelemiah – “God has favored”
(:30) Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph – “gracious”
(:31) Malchiah the goldsmith’s son – “my king is Jehovah”
(:32) The goldsmiths
(:32) The merchants
VI. SOLIDIFIES THE OVERALL GOAL — SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLACES REPAIRED – THE SPECIFIC WALLS , GATES, TOWERS, POOLS
Focus on the 10 Gates – Spiritual Lessons illustrated in the rebuilding of the Ten Gates
Ps. 87:2 “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you O city of God.”
1) Sheep Gate – NE tip; then narrative moves in counter-clockwise direction and ends up back here; sacrificial animals brought through this gate to the temple altar – priests would be especially interested in repairing this section
Wiersbe: This gate reminds us of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 5:2).
Stedman: The cross is that instrument in God’s program that puts human pride to death. We cannot save ourselves. Only the Lamb of God, slain for us, can save us. The cross, the Sheep Gate, is the starting place, the source of our strength for the task of rebuilding.
Tower of the Hundred (Meah) –
Tower of Hananeel – “God has favored”
MacArthur: This northern section of Jerusalem opened up to the central Benjamin plateau where enemy forces could attack most easily from the N. The rest of the perimeter of the city was protected by the natural valley topography.
2) Fish Gate – MacArthur: Men of Tyre and other coastal towns routinely brought fish to sell
Mark 1:17 “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
3) Old Gate –
Stedman: This gate represents truth. In many Christians’ lives this gate is broken down, and they are no longer resting upon the truth. Truth is always old, settled, eternal; old things provide the base upon which everything new must rest.
The nature of truth is illustrated by the story of a man who went to visit an old musician. He knocked on the musician’s door and sad “What’s the good word for today?” The old musician said nothing in reply. Instead, he turned and took a tuning fork down from a nearby shelf. He struck the tuning fork against the shelf so that a note resounded through the room.
Then the musician said, “That, my friend, is A. It was A yesterday. It was A five thousand years ago, and it will be A five thousand years from now.” Then he added, thumbing over his shoulder, “The tenor across the hall sings off-key. The soprano upstairs flats her high notes. The piano in the next room is out of tune.” He struck the tuning fork again, and said, “That is A and that, my friend, is the good word for today.” God’s truth never changes.
Broad Wall –
Tower of the Furnaces –
4) Valley Gate – 2:13, 15 – Nehemiah had begun and ended his inspection journey at this point
Place of humility and lowliness of mind
Stedman: the attitude God wants to build in us is one of humble dependence upon His infinite resources.
5) Dung Gate – [my favorite] – refuse carted to the valley of Hinnom – Gate of Elimination
Wiersbe: The sanitary disposal of waste materials is essential to the health of a city. This gate did not have a beautiful name, but it did perform an important service! It reminds us that, like the city, each of us individually must get rid of whatever defiles us, or it may destroy us (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 John 1:9).
6) Gate of the Fountain – John 4:14
Wiersbe: In the Bible, water for drinking is a picture of the Holy Spirit of God (John 7:37-39). . . Spiritually speaking, we have moved from the Valley Gate (humility) to the Dung Gate (cleansing) to the Fountain Gate (fullness of the Spirit).
Stedman: It symbolizes the Holy Spirit, which is the river of life in us, enabling us to obey His will and His Word. Notice that this gate comes immediately after the Dung Gate. After our inner corruption is purged by our active consent, then the cleansing fountain of the Spirit washes us clean.
Pool of Siloah at the king’s garden – “sent”
7) Water Gate
water for washing is a picture of the Word of God (Eph. 5:26; John 15:3).
Stedman: Note that the Water Gate in Jerusalem did not need to be repaired. Evidently it was the only part of the wall still standing. The text mentions that people lived nearby, but it doesn’t mention that the Water Gate needed repair. The Word of God never breaks down. It doesn’t need to be repaired. It simply needs to be reinhabited.
8) Horse Gate – symbol of warfare
9) East Gate
Stedman: This gate faced the rising sun and is the gate of hope. It is the gate of anticipation of the coming day when all the trials of life and the struggles of earth will end, when the glorious new sun will rise on the new day of God.
10) Gate Miphkad (Inspection Gate) – place where judgment was conducted
CONCLUSION: SUCCEEDS BECAUSE OF THE GOOD HAND OF GOD’S FAVOR
God’s roll call of faithfulness and dedication;
Sometimes God’s people have to bond together and grind it out to get the necessary work done.
4:6 Look at how Nehemiah humbly gave the credit to the people – a leader can accomplish nothing unless the people are dedicated to do the work: “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
Let’s ask the Lord for that type of mindset and dedication.