Imagine you had to choose one chapter of the Bible to read for next 12 months. What would it be? Psalm 91, Psalm 23? Perhaps a chapter from the book of Philippians? Or maybe a chapter from one of the Gospels?
Well, let me help you by telling you a chapter that you would never choose… Nehemiah 3! Talk about chewing on dry Weetbix! On the surface, Nehemiah 3 seems to be a dull and unexciting recital of names. One commentator describes it as “a colourless & breathless memorandum of assignments.”
Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel. 2 People from the town of Jericho worked next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri. 3 The Fish Gate was built by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz repaired the next section of wall. Beside him were Meshullam son of Berekiah and grandson of Meshezabel, and then Zadok son of Baana. 5 Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.
Whatever we think of chapters like this, nothing in the Word of God is there by accident. “All scripture has been inspired by God.” We must ask then, what does He want us to learn from this?
This list of names tells a beautiful story of God’s heart.
The team of workers came together from a wide variety of locations throughout the area. It was not just citizens of Jerusalem who built the wall. The workers came from eight different cities. Volunteers came from Jericho, Tekoa, Gibeon, Mizpah, Zanoah, Beth Hakkerem, Beth Zur and Keilah. These cities were between 15 to 30 kilometres away from Jerusalem.
They left the comfort and security of familiar surroundings to share in somebody else’s win!
I’ve discovered that most lasting and fulfilling achievements are often earned by helping others fulfil theirs. The Christian message is an understanding that we have been designed to live for something greater than ourselves.
This list of names tells a beautiful story of God’s Grace.
Reading through the list of names in Nehemiah 3, we start to see God’s heart for the restoration of his people. For example, here are two names that stand out:
Malkijah – He was one of the men who had married a foreign wife and had been convicted of wrong under Ezra’s ministry just thirteen years earlier.
Meremoth – He was another worker with a sad ancestry. His grandfather Hakkoz had been excluded from the priesthood, but Meremoth’s father Uriah had become a priest and, under Ezra, his son was entrusted with the travellers’ silver, gold and the sacred articles.
These men could have been locked out of the community of God because of their past. Their very presence in Jerusalem at this time demonstrates God’s grace and loving-kindness towards his people.
What was… sin, failure, grief, pain
What is… grace, purpose, joy, peace
Thank God that our mistakes of the past do not inhibit God’s present grace!
This list of names tells a beautiful story of God’s choosing.
In Nehemiah 3 there are at least seven different vocations recorded of those who worked on the walls. These included priests, goldsmiths, rulers, merchants, water carriers and gatekeepers.
1 Corinthians 1:26
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
God does not choose as people choose. God can use us no matter what our position or status. His sovereign choice is not based on anything that we can do or achieve. No amount of human knowledge or influence can replace or bypass Christ’s work on the cross.
This list of names tells a beautiful story of God’s heroic people.
There are 38 names listed in Nehemiah 3. They preserve the story of heroic people who played their part in the continuity of the people of God. But what about the thousands whose names that are NOT listed?
It is estimated that there were 50,000 workers involved in the rebuilding of the wall. They did not give themselves to this epic project for honour or personal glory, they did it for the Lord.
Last week, our Youth Pastor Jackson received an email from a mother new to Shirelive. I think this note of gratitude perfectly sums up what it means to serve God with no agenda other than glorifying His Name. Let me share it with you now.
Hi Jackson and the Shirelive Youth team,
My son is Year Two at a local primary school, where I found out today our new School Chaplain, Nick, is a leader at Shirelive Youth and goes to Shirelive Church.
My son has cerebral palsy in both legs and has to wear splints seven hours per day. Over the last five weeks I’ve notice a change in him and yesterday for the first time since he started school he said he “loved school today because I got to hang out with Nick.” I asked who Nick was and he told me that he was the School Chaplain. Asking why and what he loved about Nick, he said he’d never felt so special and that even though he has cerebal palsy he now believes that he can do anything he puts his mind to. He also said that for the first time he got to play soccer. Jayden has never been allowed to play soccer at school, but Nick convinced the teachers to let him. That’s one of the biggest things that Jayden wanted to do. He got to do it because of Nick!!!!
That means so much to me because being a single mum who use to go to church and serve, to know that someone notices my son for who he is and believes in my son, means more to me then anything in the world.
Today as we were driving home in the pouring rain we saw Nick, walking to the station. We offered him a lift and I was in awe of how someone who is only in his twenties is so mature. As we where driving I was asking Nick about himself and about his celebral palsy. Then he asked if I wanted to give my life to Jesus again. I’d been waiting for someone to ask me that for seven years. So Jayden and I gave our lives to God. I’d never felt so peaceful.
I asked Nick why he does and how he does everything he does with cerebal palsy. He said people believe in him. He spoke about how four certain people believe in him more then anything. You Jackson, Alyssa, Junior and Belinda. He kept on talking about how thankful he is for you and how even when he stuffs up that he gets picked up. Without you guys he said he couldn’t do what he does and he feels love from you.
So I just want to say thank you for raising up Nick and I’m sure many other great leaders who love students. Thank you!
Please share this with the rest of the youth team! I know Nick will be embarrassed but he made my Son’s dream come true yesterday.
You will either be named or unnamed. Regardless there is only one name that we lift up. That’s the name of Jesus Christ!