Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
After the completion of the Walls there is a call to populate and dedicate the city which starts with a:
1. Call to move out of our comfort zones – 11:1-2
Most of the families living outside Jerusalem depended entirely on the land for their daily existence. Over the years they had developed a pattern of life as they plowed, planted and harvested their crops. For many of them, the thought of leaving their comfort zone was highly traumatic. But some left their homes, relatives, neighbors, work, friends, and familiar routines to set up a new life in a radically different environment. It’s here that we discover 2 groups of people, those who were drafted and those who volunteered. During Old Testament times, the casting of lots was used to discover God’s Divine will. The lots were cast, and people were called to step out of their comfort zones. There were probably many who were happy in their present place of residence and didn’t want change. Nevertheless, when their lot came up their plans changed. If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. The problem with most of our prayer lives is that we spend them telling God our plans instead of pursuing His. We petition Him to bless our wants instead of bowing to His Will. In order for them to submit to Gods goals their thinking had to change. It was not about what they desired, but what God desired. Their preference had to become secondary to God’s plan. God’s Will had to take priority over every other consideration. But what made this a joy and not a job was that it was a holy task, they were being called to live in the “holy city.” When it came down to it, being chosen was an immense privilege. Look participating in God’s plan is not a pain it’s a privilege. But there is another group of people here as well, these were not the ones that were drafted they were the ones that volunteered. Which group are you in, are you the drafted disciple or the consenting Christian? You will never serve as long as you make it about self. Service requires sacrifice. But today we have convinced ourselves that we can serve Christ out of our comfort. Many Churches are functioning based on the comfort of their parishioners instead of the crisis in their communities. When Churches base the mission around comfort instead of Christ, they become not just reluctant to change but resistant. Are you willing to leave your comfort zone for the sake of the kingdom? I don’t know what God might be asking you to do, but I do know that He wants you to be available. When God called me to be a preacher, I had to say no to a career, I had to say no to my extended family, in the last 22 years I have been home 3 times. Now I find myself with a new calling, to leave the church and community I love to become a pastor to pastors. What is God asking you to do that is going to stretch you? Maybe it’s a short-term mission’s trip. Maybe He is asking you to pray for your neighbors and look for ways to care for them. Isn’t it sad that for many of us loving our neighbor is outside our comfort zone. What is God laying on your heart, when we are burdened, we must go like those that didn’t wait for a lot to be cast. They were already prepared to uproot themselves, because they were already persuaded that God’s plan was worth pursuing. Their hearts were convinced, and they were ready for the challenge. Whatever it is, are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and live outside your normal boundaries, are you willing to let God stretch you? Or are you going to try and live your life as a comfortably complacent Christian? You want to know what the problem in the church is, we are so busy clinging to our comfort zones that we are no longer clinging to the cross. We have become summer soldiers instead of sold out soldiers. William Gurnall said, “The soldier is summoned to a life of active duty and so is the Christian and the very nature of the calling precludes a life of ease”. How sensitive are you to God’s call on your life? Are you will to be like Isaiah who in Isaiah 6:8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”