Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

08/23/15 Sermon - The Walls Go Up

“The Walls Go Up”

Nehemiah 3:1-32

 

Today’s Scripture reading is going to be combined with a PowerPoint of some of the places that MaryAnn will be reading.

(Invite to find a place to sit where the TV can be easily seen.)

Slide show and Scripture reading.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the names of the Jewish people who stepped up to build the wall. But it’s the very writing down of these names that makes the re-creation of the wall significant. This isn’t a novel or a fairy tale of how a man once upon a time came to Jerusalem as a lowly cupbearer and became a hero by leading the destitute Israelites to save their city from their enemies. These were real people in history who had real pieces of real estate. And they worked together to complete something they could have never done apart.

The entire chapter repeats the words, “rebuilt”, “was repaired”. Chapter 3 of Nehemiah is all about the work. It records the names of those individuals that pitch in, work together, and get the job done, under the leadership and organization of Nehemiah.

The organization began with the gates. Gates were significant because it was through the gates where people entered and exited and the places where enemies would most likely attack. Nehemiah started at each gate and worked out.

Nehemiah starts with the Sheep Gate, and the first person mentioned as a wall and gate builder was Eliashib, the high priest. He gets his fellow priests to join him. It’s a good guess that high priests were not necessarily the best carpenters, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. Along the way, they dedicate what they build to God. They established the project as a “God thing” not a people thing. Eliashib was leading by example. He didn’t act like he was too “spiritual” but became a positive example for everyone to follow. And follow they did. There are more the 50 others recorded as following his example.

The record of builders also includes the names of those who were NOT willing to pitch in and help. The Tekoites repaired their section of the wall, but Nehemiah writes down that the nobles from the city of Tekoa thought they were above the hard work, and decided not to join in the project. They may have had their reasons for not helping out. But in the end they were written down in history as the only ones who would not join the work.

When you take a closer look at who the people were that actually worked on building the wall, we read that there were people of all types of professions, yet not one of them seems to be professional builders. There were priests, priests’ helpers, goldsmiths, perfume makers, and even women.  They had no formal training, which would have given them a great excuse to do nothing, but instead, they follow their hearts and jump in and do what they can. They fortified the city of Jerusalem. They saw the need, they were encouraged to meet the need and they succeeded in doing so. The key to their success was making themselves available to do the Lord’s work. Nehemiah had made it clear this task was for the Lord.  Their passion and drive to see God’s work be done, was what was needed, not their gifts and talents.

Colossians 3:17 tells us,

“And whatever you do in words or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

What are some things we can take home with us today after reading Chapter 3 of Nehemiah?

The wall of Jerusalem was completed because everyone worked together. Each person had a space in front of their house that they were required to rebuild. Some people had more than others, but everyone was called on to do what they could do. When we have tasks in the church, God is honored when we work together, in one accord, with one heart and with one mind. God’s heart and mind. We need to be willing to lead, and be willing to follow and be willing to do so with God’s plan front and center.

The concept of family was very important. Almost everyone mentioned was the son of someone. The family is still important. It is in our families that we are to be taught how to work. In the spiritual sense, our hard work, or the lack there of, reflects on our spiritual family.

You can bet those outside the church are looking at us and not necessarily noticing when we work together, but they will definitely notice when we are not.

Nehemiah knew that in order to get the job done, he had to rely on the families to work together, do their part, and invest in the project. The record of some nobles refusing to do their part, makes the story more realistic. There are always going to be some that don’t do a thing, and still get to be part of the finished product. Notice we don’t read that Nehemiah throws out the nobles of Tokoa. They too have the luxury of enjoying a safer city. They also must live with the fact that they were louses and would have that reputation for ever. Some may have been bothered by that and some may not. But for those who did their part, they had the satisfaction of knowing they were part of God’s plan for His chosen people.

The building of the wall was also an equal opportunity experience. Both leaders, high priests, and the man with just one room work together. There is even one man, Malchijah, son of Harim, who was mentioned in Ezra 10:31 as a sinful man for taking a pagan wife.

Now, many years later, it seems he had gotten things right with God, and joined in the work with everyone else, revealing to us that our past failures shouldn’t get in the way of our serving God today. We are to repent, set it right with God and with those affected, as much as it is up to us, then start doing what God calls us to do.

Hilary Clinton may be well known in this day and age for stating, “It takes a village.” But I think Nehemiah stated it centuries before. The wall would have never been completed, without everyone doing what God had placed in front of them. For those in Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah, what was placed in front of them was a broken wall in front of their home. It had been demolished for quite a while. Until God brought someone with encouragement and hope to give then a nudge to get out and fix it.

That is what I am here to do for you today. What is in your life today, that represents the crumbled wall. What thing have you been looking at, that you have been living with for so long you take it for granted that it can’t be fixed?

It is God’s plan that you put your heart to doing “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Step outside your door and look around. What needs to fixed? Maybe you are like Shemaiah, in verses 28-30. He was the keeper of the East Gate, but things at his house must have been okay, because he is recorded as helping to repair someone else’s wall, near the Horse Gate. He gives us a great example, that when things are okay with us, it is important to reach out and help someone around us.

We are not called to do it on our own. We are called, Children of God, and when we respond like a family, to our own needs and to the needs of those around us, we demonstrate the heart of God. And we see things that have been in disrepair, being built up. Restoration is always God’s plan.

 

Let’s pray.