“Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel.”
In the midst of conflict, hostility and opposition, the remnant of Israel, under the leadership of Nehemiah, set out to rebuild the city walls. This was no small task because of the size of the city and the extent of the damage. All around the city the wall had been destroyed. In some places the rubble was so thick it was nearly impossible to get to. Regardless of the difficulty, this was a necessary endeavor, for the city could not grow if the walls were not secure. Nehemiah had a very limited workforce and a seemingly unlimited amount of work, yet in a few short weeks they were able to complete the walls and secure the city. We are given keen insight into the secret of their success.
This chapter is more than a list of names that are difficult to pronounce. It is the record of those who put their own lives on hold, responded to the call of God, and invested in the the work of God. While we are not given a lot of details, what is recorded speaks volumes. In the record of those who got involved in the work, I notice four things.
1. There were people from many walks of life.
2. Most of the people served close to home.
3. All of the people, though assigned different tasks, were involved in the same work.
4. We are even told which ones refused to work.
Within the list of those who served were goldsmiths, perfumers, leaders, priests, merchants and families. The people did not let their lack of training stand in the way of their service. We find a reoccurring phrase in the text, reminding us that many of the people worked on the wall right in front of their own houses. They saw the value of the project as it related to their families. They seemed to understand that the investments made in eternity have an impact upon the home. We are even told of a few “Nobles” who refused to join the work force. Without knowing for sure, it may have been that they considered themselves above the task. After all, in what world would a nobleman stand alongside a commoner and lift heavy stone or clean up trash. It may have been a refusal to humble themselves that caused them to miss out on being part of the work. Finally, I notice that some jobs may have been worse than others but all of them needed to be accomplished. We read of one group that was assigned to rebuilding the refuse gate. One translation calls it the dung gate, for it was the area where all the rubbish of the city was taken out. This smelly, dirty part of the project may have been the most important task. If the trash is not removed people will get sick and the nation will be weakened.
It is not difficult to see similarity between Nehemiah’s project and the work of the church. If we will begin to see value in making investments in the work of God, and give ourselves to he task, who knows what Christ may accomplish through us, and how quickly the work might be completed.
Take some time to pray about how you can get involved in your local church.