Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 18 2019 - Nehemiah 2:11-3:12 – Repairing the wall

After a few days in the city, Nehemiah set out by night, with one or two others, to survey the walls of the city. He wanted to see for himself the extent of their destruction and to assess the scale of the rebuilding task. He had, as yet, told no one else of the task that the Lord had laid on his heart. But on his return he called a meeting of the priests, nobles and officials in the city and said to them:

"You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work. (vv. 2:17-18)

As the work commenced, "Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab" accused Nehemiah of rebelling against the king of Persia. Nehemiah told them that the Lord would enable them to succeed in their task while they, the protesters, had no claim to Jerusalem.

Chapter three recounts the variety of people who set to work rebuilding the walls – people from all over Israel. Each family or clan worked on a separate piece of the wall, some on parts of the wall that were nearest their homes within the city. But not everyone was equally keen to get their hands dirty and bruised in the demanding and heavy task of building:

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. (3:5)

We also are called to engage in building work. We are called to build the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a task in which every Christian has a part to play and none is to think the task is beneath their dignity or is best left to someone else. We each need to discern the part of the work set apart for us and to be eager to engage in it. We need to build in the confidence that it is the Lord's work and that he will enable us to succeed in the work to which he has called us. He has said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." He is the one who works with us and through us for the establishment of his kingdom.

Nehemiah teaches us vital lessons about Christian leadership. The Lord had laid on Nehemiah's heart the desire to see the walls of the city rebuilt. But before he did anything he assessed the task that needed to be undertaken and gained a sense of what it would involve. Only then did he share with the leaders in the city what was on his mind, assuring them that the Lord was in this work and had already blessed the preparations. All of this, as we have seen, was accompanied by prayer. His call to the leaders then received an immediate response, "Let us start rebuilding." It is important for leaders among God's people to have a clear understanding of the work God is calling them to do and clarity in sharing the vision with others so that it may become their vision also.

Christian leaders cannot expect that all to whom they communicate their vision will immediately make it their own. Some will simply leave it to others to get on with the work, like the nobles of Tekoa. Others will dismiss the leader's plans and will make life difficult for them. Here we need to be careful. Christian leaders do not always discern clearly what God is asking of them; they can get it wrong and need to listen to criticism. Nevertheless, those who steadfastly oppose the work of God and who seek to tear down rather than build up his people have no part in Christ and his kingdom.

What part has the Lord given you in the work of his kingdom? Do you sometimes resent the time and energy you expend in Christian service and wish you could get on with what you want to do for yourself? What would encourage you to devote yourself more fully to building the kingdom?

Lord Jesus, we thank you for your promise that you will build your church. Help us to be master builders under your direction and oversight. Give wisdom and grace to leaders among your people that they may inspire us and lead us in word and action in the work you would have us do.

Peter Misselbrook