In Nehemiah chapter 3 we get a piece by piece account of who helped to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. It’s like reading the genealogies throughout Scripture – you read it to get through it and then move on to the next thing. But even within those sections of Scripture, there is so much we can learn! Overall, this chapter teaches us that focus and diligence can make up for lack of numbers.
It only takes a few to make a difference. If we learn nothing else from this short chapter, let it be this. We must be willing to put our feet to our faith and step forward in service. How many say, ‘Let’s do it!’ but then sit back and do nothing, “Let it never be said that we left that good work to be done to-morrow which we might as well have done today” (Henry). Nehemiah didn’t hesitate. He saw the need, knew what needed to be done to fix it, and with the help of others, accomplished the task. It wasn’t because he was functioning on his own strength, but rather, “it sprang from prayer and faith” (Expositor’s). If we are in prayer, seeking His will, devoted to His will, then why are we so hesitant?
The Expositor’s commentary goes into detail about how the execution of rebuilding the wall was almost socialistic in nature. Everyone was united in civic duty for the common good. First and foremost, I believe this unity begins with the family unit. From there, it branches to the church. The church should always be a unit, united for the common good, united to further the Kingdom of God – “to be a citizen of the ‘City of God’ is to be called out of the circle of the narrow, selfish interests into the large place where great, common duties and an all-comprehensive good of the whole body are set before us as the chief aims to be pursued” (Expositor’s). This is what God intended!! But so often we miss the mark on this. Church becomes just another place where I get my way. And if I don’t, I’m going to make a fuss about it, leave, or just stop being a part of anything. Sometimes what is good for the whole body doesn’t look like what we think it should. And sometimes it takes time to see that. But if we are faithful and obedient to what God calls us, if we remain united, we will see the good, just as these men (and women) saw the completion of a wall that was previously left to become ruins.
In the grand scheme of things, the number of those that worked to complete the wall were very few. The record barely takes up a full page in my Bible! But, nonetheless, they set themselves to the task and completed the vision that God had cast. This should give us hope! For “If a small city could once take the unique position of Jerusalem, then why should not a small church now? And if a little knot of earnest men within the city could be the nucleus of her character and the source of her influence, why should not quite a small group of earnest people give a character to their church, and through the church, work wonders in the world as the grain of mustard seed could move a mountain?” (Expositor’s). There’s no waiting until your numbers grow. There’s no waiting until we’re bigger. There’s only now. As a mustard seed faith can move mountains, so can a few, devoted and faithful, make a great difference for the kingdom of God!!
Reading through the names of those that helped to build the wall, there are a couple that significantly stick out. In verse 20, it is noted that Baruch zealously repaired a section of the wall. He is the only one that gets this descriptor. His passion for the work was so evident and overflowing that Nehemiah couldn’t help but mention it! But on the other hand, in verse 5 we see that the Tekoites made repairs. However “their nobles did not support the work of their masters.” While Nehemiah kept track of who did the work, he also noted who did not participate in the work of the Lord. As life moves on, will you be remembered as a Baruch, zealously serving the Lord? Or will you be remembered as the nobles of the Tekoites, not putting your hand to service because you don’t think it worthy or you don’t have the time or ______________ (insert excuse here)?
As for me, I will stay focused on the task(s) that God has called me to. I will approach His vision and His work zealously. I will not allow the lack of many to destroy the hope of the few. I will commit to my family unit and, in turn, commit to my church unit, remaining faithful and obedient to the Lord’s will…even if it doesn’t go my way. United we stand. Divided we fall.
Will you stand with me?