“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.”
Last time in chapter 3 we saw how people working together can accomplish more than if just one person tried to do all the work. As you look back at chapter 3, I want you to underline in your Bible every time you see the following phrases: “next to him,” “next to them,” “after him,” and “after them.” These expressions are recorded 28 times in this chapter! The biblical principle is this: No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Look Christ didn’t save you to be a lone ranger Christian. If God’s work is going to get done, we have to cooperate with one another, not compete, compare and criticize. As a people we value our independence but often it’s at the expense of inclusion. Why is our nation in turmoil because instead of teaming together we are tearing each other apart. We focus more on our personal rights that living right. What if as a nation we would stop blaming and start building, if we would replace our bitter bricks with bricks of blessing. If we would replace the mortar of meanness with that of mercy. How did previous generations face tough times, by teaming together, today instead of teaming together we are tearing down. But regardless of the standard that society is setting we have to come back to the bible as our basis for life. In a world where everyone is only concerned for themselves, we are called to come together and serve. It’s here in chapter 3 that we’re going to see two different kinds of work being done: rebuilding and repairing. It seems that the wall was not torn down evenly by the enemies of Jerusalem; some sections needed to be completely rebuilt, while other sections just needed to be repaired. The same is true in our lives, because sometimes there’s a part of our lives that has been damaged: A broken heart, a wounded spirit, smashed self-esteem, a destroyed dream. Sometimes the damaged area just needs to be repaired, while other times it needs to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. Either way, we have the perfect contractor, Christ who can fix the damaged areas of our lives. Its here that we see:
- THE PEOPLE
As we come to the people, notice the progression, the purpose the priority the people. God first, service second. We start with worship and then the work. Last time we saw a description of the work on the walls of Jerusalem, section by section, counter-clockwise around the city. Starting at the Sheep Gate and finishing at the Sheep Gate, the gate through which sheep came into the city to be sacrificed for sin. And we saw how everything should start with Jesus and end with Jesus. Now as we come to the people teaming together, we see several powerful principles. The first thing we see is that:
- Pastors should set the pace – Vs 1
We see here that when it came to work on the walls the Priests didn’t sit on the sidelines. They didn’t say oh I only do religious work, no they rolled up their sleeves and went to work, setting the example. One of the problems with the church in America is that there are a lot of pastors who don’t practice what they preach. It’s what I call lazy leadership, it’s the pastor who wants the prominent position just not the work. But if anybody in the city should have been busy with the work, it was the priests, because God’s reputation was at stake. These priests were not afraid of ruining their robes and getting their hands dirty and notice who lead the way when it came to the work, the high priest. As religious leaders we have a great responsibility because we set the pace for the people. Romans 12:11 says “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” The high priest had no hesitation using his consecrated hands to swing a hammer or plaster mortar. But it’s not just about how you start the work it’s also about finishing well. Later on, in chapter 13 we will see that Eliashib the high priest did not remain true to his calling. Instead of pursuing God’s purpose he actually partnered with the enemy and created some serious problems for Nehemiah. There will be those who begin enthusiastically but end up bailing or even turn against us. What counts is completing the work, because you don’t get credit for a partial project. Men I want you to think about your marriage for a moment, what work needs to be done, are you pursuing your bride, or are you being a putz? Are you being a loving leader or a lazy leader? It’s time to stop holding the remote and start holding her hand, because sadly many men know more about sports stats than they do their spouse. What pace are you setting for your family and is your pace in step with God’s purpose?