At first glance, thirty-two verses about who is building what might not appear too interesting, right? Nehemiah 3 is all about work, work, and more work.
Generally, because they were strategic points of entry and exit, and therefore important, the work starts at a gate and moves along the wall until we reach another gate, and the pattern repeats. See if you can spot it here,
3 The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate.
They laid its beams and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakoz, worked on the section adjacent to them. Meshullam son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel worked on the section next to them. And Zadok son of Baana worked on the section adjacent to them. 5 The men of Tekoa worked on the section adjacent to them, but their town leaders would not assist with the work of their master.
6 Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah worked on the Jeshanah Gate.
Nehemiah 3.3-6, (NET)
So, yes, this is basically a big list of who worked on what gate and what section of the wall. Still, there are one or two points for you and for me.
First, we see that Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built… (v.1). Leading from the front, leading by example, Eliashib is the first person named. It’s hard to take someone seriously as a leader who is asking you to do something that they are not willing to do (John 13.34, cf. v.5). If you have been entrusted with a position of leadership and authority, please use it well. Don’t ask people to do something that you are not willing to do yourself, lead by example, show people that there is unity in your pursuit of your common end goal.
That brings us to the second point for you and for me in Nehemiah 3, the unified efforts of God’s people. Rebuilding the walls was far too big a task for a faithful few, this needed complete buy-in and commitment from the people as a whole. They were all in this together. If one was absent, there would have been a gap in the wall. A gap in the wall meant danger for the whole community, so, logically, the whole community needs to work together for the benefit of the whole community.
Reading through Nehemiah 3 my mind went to the collective attitude we have as a church, as a local gathering and body of believers. As here everyone needed to participate to make the community all it could be (specifically here all it could be in terms of safety and security), the same is true for you and your commitment and contribution to a church family.
Word pictures abound when talking about church as an interdependent entity, but perhaps these four that I read a little while ago are good thoughts to take into today and will help you to consider your commitment and contribution to a church family.
- If the church is a body and you go missing, the body will not function properly.
- Since the church is a family, when you don’t gather with them there is an empty seat at the table.
- The church is a temple and you are a brick in it, so the whole structure is weaker and more vulnerable when you are not there.