Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/04/15 Sermon - It's All About The Community

“It’s All About the Community”

Nehemiah 7

 

We have been reading and studying the book of Nehemiah and at Chapter 7 we read that the wall was built and the doors for the gates have been hung. The job Nehemiah set out to do was completed, right. Shouldn’t we be at the end of the book? Aren’t we all done? Amazingly it took only 52 days to complete. Isn’t this a “happy ever after” result? If you look, there are 6 more chapters to go.

With God, the outside is not the only thing that matters. We get so caught up in the “things” that need to be done. The physical aspect of the wall was complete, now it was time to focus on the Spiritual things. How often are we blinded by what we can see? We focus on what is visible, when often it is the very things we cannot see that are most important.

Nehemiah wasn’t about just building a wall. His real concern was the Jewish nation, the Jewish people who were living within the broken walls. The building of the wall had a much larger purpose, and that purpose was to allow the Jewish people to worship God more freely and with greater glory, like they had done before.

In the first verses of chapter 7, Nehemiah had completed the building project by hanging the doors and in the same breath, appointed gatekeepers, singers and the Levites, and appointed co-governors, his brother Hanai and Hananiah the leader of the citadel.

Gatekeepers were appointed to keep watch over the gates. The singers and Levites were appointed to lead worship, for this was a time for Israel to rejoice and praise God. What a wonderful reminder! How often, when there is a victory in our lives, do we stop and praise God?

Nehemiah stepped down from authority and appointed leaders of Jerusalem. Hanai, Nehemiah’s brother, was chosen because he had a concern for the state of affairs of Jerusalem. Remember he was the one who informed Nehemiah of how things were in Jerusalem, at the beginning of the story. Hananaiah was appointed as co-leader because he was faithful and feared God more than many. Being faithful and fearing God are two excellent pre-requisites for a leader in God’s community.

At this point it sounded like Nehemiah had completed his task. Yet, Nehemiah was not about to let things just be. He provided a wise plan for how the gates were to be opened, “not until the sun was hot,” and while opened, there was to be a guard, at the gate and at one’s house. It was a time for high security. Walls alone were not going to be able to protect God’s people. The walls would certainly help, but a guard would be the best defense against invaders.

How often do we experience victories in our life, only to experience the loss of that victory soon after?

It’s because we stop watching.

The enemy realizes our guard is down and takes advantage.

It is amazing how just the thought of someone watching keeps people from doing harm.

[Tell the story of my high school research paper on shoplifting in Bath]

Nehemiah looked around and realized the city of Jerusalem was large, but the number of people living there was small and their houses were in need of repair.

Nehemiah saw the need to develop Jerusalem.

He stated that God put it on his heart to gather everyone, the nobles, the rulers, and the people that they might register them all by the geneology, he found, which Ezra had recorded when he first returned with those Jews who were willing to take a risk and return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity. With this list of returnees, he took a census.

Have you noticed Nehemiah was a man of details? Before tackling the enormous task of rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah spent time personally investigating the situation by touring the broken walls. By counting the people, and knowing exactly who had returned to Jerusalem, Nehemiah would have the facts he would need to proceed in his plan to have Jerusalem prosper and grow. In verses 6-73, you can read the very names of the citizens of Jerusalem who returned from the Babylonian captivity.

Marvin did not read this list because they are difficult to pronounce, but these names were important, because they were the names of those who had taken the trouble to return to the promised land after they had already set down roots, for seventy years in the Babylonian empire. Only 2% of the total number of Israelites chose to make the trip.

Stop! and think about this for a moment. Many of you sitting in this room have lived in the same area, if not the same house for nearly 70 years. You can personally relate to how difficult it would have been to leave everything you have come to know your neighbors and all of your familiar places, to return to a city, you had never seen, but had only heard about from your grandparents.

Not only that! This city was in disrepair!

The walls were demolished, and the houses needed repair, and overall it was not a particularly safe place to reside. The names that have been recorded are the names of those with a pioneer spirit. They have earned the right to have their name written in the Bible. Not just once, here in Nehemiah, but twice, as they are also written in the book of Ezra. They had been called by God to return to Jerusalem, and their calling from God was more important than their comfort.

Sure, living in Babylon was easier, but that didn’t mean it was better.

This long list of names that is difficult to read, represents individuals who were not only willing to leave comfort, they were willing to endure hardship. They learned, first-hand, the importance of working together, working hard, working through difficult times, and while under attack to ensure the job was done.

Many times we keep focused on the task at hand and forget

That the task is really “the means” by which we are called to touch “the lives” of God’s people and make sure they are able to live in peace and security.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your name written in the Bible? At least for a positive reason? Although we may not live in an age that allows us that benefit, we do live post resurrection and therefore we do have the ability to have our name written in the Book of Life. And today we are going to celebrate, the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, which reminds us of what the Lord has done on our behalf to make sure our names can be written in the His Book and we have eternal salvation.                   

Let’s celebrate the Lord’s Supper together and rejoice.