Working Together

(Nehemiah Ch 3)
 

1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. 

2 Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. 

3 Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. 

4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. 

5 Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. 

6 Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars. 

7 And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River. 

8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made
repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 

9 And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 

10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made
repairs. 

11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens. 

12 And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs. 

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate. 

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. 

15 Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King's Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David. 

16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty. 

17 After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made
repairs for his district. 

18 After him their brethren, under Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs. 

19 And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the buttress. 

20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 

21 After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 

22 And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs. 

23 After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house. 

24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress, even as far as the corner. 

25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king's upper house that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 

26 Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the
projecting tower. 

27 After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel. 

28 Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 

29 After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs. 

30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling. 

31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants, in front of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner. 

32 And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.

 

I must admit, on my first reading of Nehemiah 3, I thought, how am I going to write a blog on this.
I found it a very boring chapter. Something like reading a genealogy in the book of Numbers, or a list of laws in Leviticus.

I thought, where do I start. This is one of the chapters that it is easier to skip read or just ignore it all together.
The first thing I did was look at the first name, “Eliashib”, the first person mentioned in the chapter, I found that it means “God will restore”.

Interesting, I thought, God has a purpose in everything. There must be a reason that God had this chapter recorded.
Next I looked at who assisted him. His brethren the Priests. You would not think that priests would be the best people for a building job.
Surely you would need brick layers, hod carriers, mortar mixers and carpenters.
Priests, not really the ideal choice from mans point of view.
Then again, God’s ways are not our ways.


Isaiah 55:8-9  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
 

God chooses all sorts of people for His work. It is not necessarily our natural talent that God calls us for.

So, what is this chapter all about?
Of course the answer is quite obvious, it is about building the walls of Jerusalem. So I counted the word built or builded, and found it appears 6 times.
I also noticed as I counted the word built, that the word repair, repairs or repaired appeared far more. 39 times.

It became apparent to me that this chapter is all about work and actionputting something right, building something up.

The word for repairs is the Hebrew word “chazaq”, it is used 35 times in this chapter alone. Chazaq has the meaning of strengthening, encouraging, of making something strong.

The scriptures exhorts us as a body of believers to be built up and repaired.

Ephesians 4:11,12  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 
12 for
the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 
 

This is the purpose of the church,  for the equipping of the saints, equipping  means to prepare, strengthen, and make something able to be used.
We come together as Christians to strengthen one another, to make one another strong so that we can live for Jesus and serve Him in the world.

We see in
Nehemiah chapter 1, that Nehemiah was a willing man of prayer. In Nehemiah 2, we see Nehemiah, a man of action, a man of planning.
Nehemiah was an example to those he was to lead.
Now in
chapter 3, we observe an example, a man being effective, in that the men and women followed Nehemiah’s lead and emulated him.
A man of Prayer.
A man of  Action.
A man of Planning
A man of example.


This is a great responsibility on our leaders or elders and also each of us in our own situations, in our workplace, in our homes.
The congregation looks for leadership, for guidance, someone to follow and emulate.
This is why, we as a fellowship should uphold our leaders before God, they need all our support for they are the shepherds of the flock and they are to be an example to the fellowship. If the leader is lazy, it is very likely the people will be lazy. If our leaders are praying, planning, men of action, it is more likely that the fellowship will be encouraged to be the same.
We in our own families and our circle of friends should be examples of how one should behave in society.

The Apostle Paul knew this well and he exhorted the Christians to watch him and imitate him, as did Jesus.


1 Cor 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Phil 3:17 Brethren, join in following
my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
John 13:15 For
I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

We saw in Nehemiah Ch 1 & 2, how Nehemiah made plans and submitted them into God’s hands and we know that if we fail to prepare or don’t have proper plans we are very likely to fail.

The old adage says, Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.


Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.


After surveying the damage to the gates and walls, Nehemiah would have passed on to the workers what the plan was. Nehemiah had the whole plan in his mind. He may not have shared the whole plan with each person but only the task in question for them.

Each one would have his part to play in the whole plan.

Just as God has His plan and purpose and He reveals to each one of us what our part is.
It is our duty to get on with the task allotted to us.
We must not allow ourselves to be put off doing our part, by wanting to do what another may be doing.

I don’t want to be an evangelist, I would rather be a teacher, I don’t want to brew the tea, I want to be the youth leader. I don’t want clean, I would rather be the Treasurer.

 

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are just like a body.
The hand cannot do the work of the foot and the eye cannot do the work of the ear.


1 Cor 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
 

Each one of us has a function in the Body of Christ, we must recognise what it is and do the task.
 

The work in Nehemiah 3 is described in reference to the gates of the wall. The gates were the critical entry and exit points to the city, and the places most likely to see an enemy attack. Therefore, the work started at each gate and worked out from there.
The work began at the Sheep Gate, V1 and ended at the Sheep Gate, V32.

Many cities even in the UK, are built around the gates. In our own town of Wigan we see this very pattern.
Wallgate, Churchgate, Standishgate, Millgate, Hallgate, Bishopgate and I believe there is another one that I had not heard of, Stairgate.

All the gates of a town or city were linked together by the walls of the city.

We are a city set on a hill,


Matt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

We also should be joined together, arm in arm, just as the gates of the city is joined together by its walls.

We are lively stones.


1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
 

A pile of stones just laying around are no use, but when they are joined together, they become strong and secure.

These were the gates that needed repairing and joined together by building the walls.
V1 Sheep Gate, V3 Fish Gate, V6 Old Gate, V13 Valley Gate, V14 Refuse Gate, V15 Fountain Gate, V26 Water Gate, V28 Horse Gate, V29 East Gate, V31 Miphkad Gate.

 

We notice in this chapter that the people were all different, from different places and different backgrounds and with different talents.

People from Jericho, Tekoites, Gibeonites, Meronothites, inhabitants of Zanoah, the district of Beth Haccerem, the district of Mizpah, the district of Beth Zur, the district of Keilah etc. Most of them very likely did not know the others but they were joined in one purpose, the work of the Lord.

We don’t know our brothers and sisters in Christ from all around the world but we are joined together in the work of the Lord.

Also we see that it was
both men and women.

Everybody put their shoulders to work on behalf of the work of God, except we are told, V5 Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. 

The KJV says, they would not “bend their necks”.
Literally, the idea in the Hebrew is that they wouldn’t submit – they would not “bend their necks” to what the LORD wanted them to do. The real issue was submission. Maybe they thought they had a better plan, maybe they didn’t like how Nehemiah, the leader was doing it. 

There are always these kinds of persons in a fellowship.
It is not their idea, it is not being done right, they are not telling me what to do. I don’t like that idea. Usually this is a type of pride.
Whatever it was, it is recorded in scripture for all to see. Even though God spared their names in this text, the fact is still recorded.
May it not be recorded in heaven, that we refused to bend our necks in the
service of the Lord.

1 Cor 3:13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

This chapter shows us what can be accomplished when a body of  people work together. Each one with his or her own ministry.
There were those that made repairs, there were those that built anew but they worked side by side. No doubt they assisted each other, advised each other and served each other.

Goldsmiths, Perfumers and merchants.

8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 
32 And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs

Men and women.
12 And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs. 

Priests and men from the valleys.
22 And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs. 


Some worked in other parts of the city and some worked in front of their own houses.

23 After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house. 

28 Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 

29 After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house.

Christians are called by God to work in various places and some are called to work in their own houses.

In
Nehemiah 3, it speaks of those who worked on the section right in front of their own house.
 

David Guzik in his commentary on Nehemiah makes these valid points.

Often, we need to give attention to the work of God right at our own homes. If the work needs to be done anywhere, it needs to be done at our homes.

The names of the men who are said to have made repairs in front of his house are interesting:
Nehemiah 3:10 mentions Jedaiah, and his name means He who calls unto God. Our homes must be places of prayer, where the family calls unto God.

Nehemiah 3:23 mentions Benjamin, and his name means Son of my right hand, speaking of a protector. Our homes must be places of protection and peace.

Nehemiah 3:29 mentions Zadok, and his name means Justice. Our homes must be places of justice and integrity, especially with integrity regarding our
marital vows and promises.

Nehemiah 3:30 mentions Meshullam, and his name means Devoted. Our homes must be places of devotion and separation to God.

 

There is far more in this passage of scripture than first meets the eye.
The lesson that comes out of this passage of scripture is the fact that under the right leadership and working side by side, all pulling in the same direction, respecting each others efforts, being willing to take on duties that may not be our natural talent, and supporting each other,  we can be a success in the work of God.
It is all about a group of people working together as one body, with one aim, following God’s commission.

 

May this passage of scripture encourage each one of us to rise up and build.

May it be that we pray for the Nehemiah’s, in our fellowship and follow their lead and bend our necks to the work of the Lord.

 

Neh 2:18  Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 

 

Neh 2:20  Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build:

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