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90. Nehemiah 3: “Rebuilding the Walls”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 5/17/2018

and

 

South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ –Men’s Evening Chapel on 5/20/2018
(edited October 2021)

 

After 70 years in captivity and exile, some of God’s People from Ancient Israel are finally being allowed to return to the “Promised Land” they had once been given.

 

This man, Nehemiah, had been taken away to Persia (what we call Iran today) and was serving as a butler in the palace of the Persian King. Nehemiah sought and was granted permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and gates of the city which had been conquered by the Babylonians 70 years before. He was a layman, but one who had some great clergymen around him: Haggai and Zechariah who were prophets in that day and a priest there named Ezra. Some scholars theorize that Ezra may have written the Book of Nehemiah from Nehemiah’s personal journals.

 

Ezra was a priest at a time when it was difficult to be a priest of Jehovah. Israel was in ruins, the people still largely held captive, and the Temple of God destroyed. But even with all that, Ezra was still a very good clergyman. And he was accomplishing it in the same way that faithful clergy are able to thrive in the darkest days of our time. He turned to the Word of God. He sought out, preserved, and he cherished the Word of God. And Ezra also shared the Word with others. Many others. So, the unlikely but powerful ministry of Nehemiah, who just a butler to King Artaxerxes of Persia, was supported by a revival of the Word of God.  

 

The Lord had called Nehemiah to return and to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And all along the way, God would empower and enable that effort! As is true in the Lord’s Work today, there were obstacles to be overcome. Listen as Nehemiah tells about it in his own words in the chapter just prior to the one we are supposed to be looking at tonight:

 

Nehemiah 2:17-20

Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”

 

OK, let’s get into chapter 3 and see this layman and his team of workers in action:

 

Verse 1: Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.”

 

Whoa, the clergy were the first to pitch right in and help! And, you know what, truly-called clergy will cooperate and do their part to support the lay ministry today. And we should Praise God for that!

 

Verse 2: And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.”

 

I wonder if among the men of Jericho there were any descendants of the people Israel had conquered under the command of Joshua way back in their Glory Days. Well, now some residents of Jericho were pitching in to restore the Nation of Israel! I’m not sure who the others were that are mentioned here, but I’ll find out in Heaven and God notes their service records it.

 

Verses 3-4: “But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.”

 

All these servants of God are joining forces under the leadership of Nehemiah. My ignorance of their identities doesn’t distract from their contributions. Notice again that God notices those who step up to serve Him!

 

Let’s check something out in the Book of Revelation, real quick. Doin’ good stuff doesn’t save your soul, only faith in Jesus can do that. And there is a “Book of Life” in Heaven that records the name of everyone who truly believes. Faith is the only way to eternal life. But God also knows everything else we do and don’t do. He actually has a record of it that for everyone. Of course, He does. He knows all and He sees all! Check out what we are told here in the New Testament about the end of time:

 

Revelation 20:12

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

 

Those who never come to Christ by faith will be judged only by what they have done or failed to do. That is horrible. The only person who could ever past that test would be Jesus Christ Himself, not you or me, beloved.

 

OK, let’s get back to the broken-down wall in Ancient Jerusalem:

 

Verse 5: And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.”

 

Hard times reveal levels of true commitment! Of the hundreds of thousands of God’s People who had been carried away to Assyria and Babylon, only 50,000 now returned and of those only a portion would actively help in the restoration of the Promised Land! The Apostle Paul noted in the New Testament that when it came to salvation and doing the Lord’s work… “not many wise, not many mighty or noble” seemed to be called. Or, “are willing” to answer the Lord’s call! Something like that was going on in Nehemiah’s day. It takes humility to serve God and that can be difficult for people who feel they have achieved a lot in this world! It’s difficult for all of us, at times, is it not? Difficult to be truly humble. It is for me, though not for any legitimate reason.

 

Verses 6-10: “Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. And next unto them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, unto the throne of the governor on this side the river. Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall. And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem. And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah.”

 

Jedaiah repaired near his own house. Is it wrong to get a personal benefit from serving God? I sure hope it isn’t!  But I need to remember that personal, earthly gain is not the primary goal of true ministry, nor is it even an essential ingredient. And sometimes personal benefit has to be abandoned altogether in order to truly serve the Lord, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Verses 11-12: “Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces. And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.”

 

To do God’s work in our day we need His “daughters” as well as His “sons” to work in harmony together. EVERYBODY who was willing stayed focused on rebuilding those walls and gates for the Lord!

 

Verses 13-14: “The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate. But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.”

 

Laypeople can be called to do some very mundane and practical ministries, sometimes. These folks were assigned to do a sewer repair! Notice that God records their service in the same way as the other tasks that needed doing. It all matters to the Lord! We should never look down on anybody based on their task or station in life. God shows no favoritism. He is Righteous and Holy in His relationship with all of us! How I need to Praise the Lord for that!

 

Verses 15-24: “But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David. After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Bethzur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty. After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next unto him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of the half part of Keilah, in his part. After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah. And next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece over against the going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall. After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece, from the turning of the wall unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah the son of Koz another piece, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib. And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain. After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house. After him repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah by his house. After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another piece, from the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner.”

 

The wall keeps “turning” because it will encircle the entire city when completed.

 

Verse 25: Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning of the wall, and the tower which lieth out from the king's high house, that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh.”

 

Every society has prisons and so did they. The question for a Godly society is: Do we have justice and mercy to go along with it? God gave Moses a perfect system of the Law, but the implementation of it became very corrupted in Ancient Israel.

 

Verses 26-31: “Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out. After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel. From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house. After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his house. After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate. After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another piece. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber. After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith's son unto the place of the Nethinims, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner.”

 

Nehemiah was a true leader and great one. He encouraged and incorporated all their efforts. They met resistance from the outside but, with God’s help, they avoided the infighting that plagues our churches today. I heard one old-timer described going to church something like this:

“O, to dwell above with the saints I love, that will be Glory!

But here below, with saints I know, that’s a different story.”

 

We need some Nehemiahs today to lead us into productivity with UNITY of purpose. We need to pray for the Church and for each other today!

 

Well, look, they completed their task:

 

Verse 32: And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.”

 

Can you remember that sheep gate from verse 1? That was a long time ago, forgive me for being long-winded tonight! But, they’ve worked their way all the way around the city! That was quite an accomplishment. And, even today, old Jerusalem is still standing. It’s in the news, quite a bit. But actually, as Christians we are now to be looking for a new city. A New Covenant City up in Heaven, what the Bible calls The New Jerusalem. Another layman, a fisherman, named Peter, calls all of us to build and rebuild Christ’s Kingdom while we are on earth in preparation for that city yet to come. Here’s what he says we all should do:

 

II Peter 2:-12

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

By the way, the New Jerusalem won’t need a prison, either. EVERYONE there will have plead guilty of sin before a Holy God. But the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, will have taken away all sin from that Holy Place, forever and ever. Let’ pray.

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