I. Nehemiah 7:1-73, Nehemiah continues the work, even when it looks like it is done.
II. Nehemiah 7:1-3 Appointing the Right Leadership
A. V1, Nehemiah has done all the work he came to do, but he doesn’t stop there. He sees that the city is in need of organization and appoints gatekeepers, singers and Levites. The gates were hung, but they would need keeping. The singers and Levites would be those who worked in the Temple, apparently the temple had been neglected.
1. Just as the city of Jerusalem needed some organization so do churches need organization. There needs to be gatekeepers (ushers/greeters), singers (a good worship team), Levites (teachers).
B. V2, Nehemiah gave the charge of the city over to two men, his brother Hanani and Hananiah the leader of the citadel. Nehemiah knew that his brother was a good and God fearing man, and it was because of the news Hanani brought to Nehemiah in the first place that caused Nehemiah to come. Hananiah we are told feared God more then many, and was faithful. Hananiah had shown in his keep of the castle to be incorruptible, and his fear of God outshined others who feared God.
1. In finding good leaders, look for men whom you know have the same heart as you have. Hanani had the same heart as Nehemiah. Look also for men who are faithful and fear God more than many. If they have those two qualities all the rest will fall into line.
2. Nehemiah would serve 12 years after this as the governor of Judea, but he knew that it was time to start delegating positions of authority to men that he could trust. This is the concept of discipleship, basically replacing yourself with people you know will carry on the work of the Lord that you were doing. Nehemiah didn’t waste time; as soon as we start a work we should start looking for people to replace us.
3. Faithfulness, being dependable and always there even when you don’t want to be.
a) Websters 1828 defines it as, 1. Fidelity; loyalty; firm adherence to allegiance and duty; as the faithfulness of a subject.
2. Truth; veracity; as the faithfulness of God.
3. Strict adherence to injunctions, and to the duties of a station; as the faithfulness of servants or ministers.
4. Strict performance of promises, vows or covenants; constancy in affection; as the faithfulness of a husband or wife.
4. Fear of God, in the Old Testament the fear of the Lord was more than just a deep respect or reverence to God. It meant you feared the very power of God’s judgment since you were under the law of God and had entered into the Old Covenant of judgment if you didn’t keep His law. If you feared God, it would keep you from evil. Last time we spoke of the fear of the Lord I had mentioned that the love of God casts out all fear. The love of God is a better motivation for serving God. While the love of God casts out fear, the New Testament still speaks of Christians fearing God. Only that the fear of the Lord has changed from fear of judgment to that of a reverential fear, a great a high respect for the things of the Lord and for God Himself.
a) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Hebrews 12:28
(1) Godly fear in Greek is “eulabeia” and it means 1. caution, circumspection, discretion (a) avoidance (b) a reasonable shunning 2. reverence, veneration (a) reverence toward God, godly fear, piety 3. fear anxiety, dread
(2) It is through the grace of God which we learn to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly caution, godly discretion, avoiding since and reasonably shunning evil showing veneration and reverence to the God who has shown us so much grace, making our lives pious in holiness to him, dreading and fearing disrespecting the grace that He has and continually shows us. We need not fear to teach and preach unending grace, because knowing the grace of God only causes you to revere God more.
C. V3, Nehemiah not only organizes the community, he organizes the continued watching of the walls knowing that walls are only as good as those who watch them. Normally, city gates would open at sunrise, but Nehemiah decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. The gates would only be opened in the heat of the day, the worst time for combat. When you are wearing armor and carrying a shield, a sword and a spear and then combine that with the heat of the day a direct assault during the day is really out of the question. The city would be most vulnerable while the gates were open, so Nehemiah eliminates that danger although this would have been very inconvenient for all the people.
1. Part of being a leader is making decisions that may inconvenience people, but they must be made for the good of the people.
2. Secondly, the gates were to be barred and shut at night. This might seem like common sense but specific instructions were given anyway so that there would be no confusion. The gates must be securely shut at night. Not only that, guards would stand guard even while the gates were shut, which would have been an extra precaution.
3. Lastly, Nehemiah appointed guards from among the people of Jerusalem to keep watch over the city. Some would take watches around the wall, while others would watch in front of their own house. It was wisdom to give people charge over the spot in front of their house, since they would have guarded it more diligently knowing they were directly protecting their house and their family.
4. All of us must guard against sin, this starts at home with guarding ourselves and our own families from it. Some of us may guard more than just our own home, and help to guard the walls of Christianity, but a wall is only as strong as those who guard it and no section is unimportant. We all must guard. This has been one of the biggest problems with Christianity, we have let our guard down, especially at home.
III. 7:4-5 Putting things into Order
A. V4, The fact that Nehemiah had built the wall up to the original size, knowing full well that they were unable to immediately populate it, meant that Nehemiah built the walls in faith. He believed that God would restore Jerusalem as He had promised.
B. V5, Nehemiah takes the old census from the book of Ezra and calls the people together to update it. He is going to use the register to find out how many people are living in Judea in comparison to how many came, and who would be the most likely people to be able to come live in Jerusalem from the outlying cities. Also, keeping the bloodline pure was absolutely necessary and important. He was going to populate Jerusalem with only those who could prove their Israelite heritage. This would keep the religion pure, help to keep the capitol strong and patriotic, and eventually allow for the Messiah to be able to trace his line back to David. What Nehemiah was doing was not only important practically for that generation, it would be beneficial and necessary for generations to come, and by doing so he participated in the very salvation of mankind from their sins, since the Messiah would have to come from a direct line from David and be able to prove it.
1. “My God put it into my heart” This was something God had put in Nehemiah’s heart to do. Nehemiah was a man who allowed God to put things in His heart and the responded to what God put into His heart. God still does this today, we say God laid it on my heart to do this thing. This is called conviction, when you can feel God urging you to do something.
a) When you think God is laying something on your heart make sure it is first biblical. God is not going to convict you to do anything that is against His written word.
b) Secondly, sometimes God puts things on our heats that He doesn’t put on others. We all must follow our individual convictions, especially on things that the Bible doesn’t talk about very clearly. Don’t get angry because people don’t have the same burden as you do, do what God has called you to do. Worry about your convictions and not the convictions of others.
(1) For example, just because I am called to teach God’s word and preach the Gospel does not mean I should get frustrated if I don’t see others doing the same, this is my calling and I need to do what God has called me to do and let God worry about calling others to what He wants them to do. People have different gifts and callings and we need to understand that, not everyone has the same thing on their heart to do as you do. It is on your heart for you to do, not for others to do.
IV. 7:6-73 The Bible the History Book
A. This list differs slightly from the list in Ezra 2, although it is almost identical. It is my opinion that the list in Ezra 2 is the list from when they first sent out, while the list that Nehemiah has is the updated version from when they had arrived at Jerusalem.
B. This may seem like boring history, but this list proves to us that the Bible claims to be a historical book… not allegorical. It gives us dry lists of people and places, genealogies and records. It is things like this that lend legitimacy to the accuracy and authenticity of the scriptures.
C. The main reason God kept such diligent records for the people of Israel, then recorded them for us in His inerrant Word is to give evidence and identify who His Son, the promised Messiah and Savior of mankind, would be. We are told that the Messiah would descend from David, be of the tribe of Judah, of the people of Israel. God kept these records to prove it, and it shows that He is faithful to keep His promises… even if His answers are hundreds of years in the making.
D. It also shows us, as we pointed out in the list of the names of those who worked on the wall, that God does not forget the names of those who serve Him. He honors those who honor Him (1 Sam. 2:30).
E. Now there is only one list worth keeping, since the times of caring about genealogies (in this current age of grace) are over. This list is kept in the book of life, and to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven your name must be written in it. The only way to have your name written in the book of life is to put your faith in the Messiah, the promised descendent of David of the tribe of Judah of the people of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth.
1. Is your name in the book of life?