Nehemiah 11 – Whole Lives

Having cut a covenant and had it explained in chapters nine and ten, here we see the next step – the repopulation of Jerusalem. 

Similar to chapter seven, today we see a pretty big list. The chapter begins with an overview of the few who will live in Jerusalem (more on that in a moment), and then vv.3-24 is a long list of leaders, including tribal, military, priests, levites, gatekeepers, civic, and royal leaders. This is followed by vv.25-36, and a list of villages that are outside Jerusalem. So, how was it decided who was going to live in Jerusalem?

So the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, while the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to settle in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other

nine remained in other cities. The people gave their blessing on all the men who volunteered to settle in Jerusalem. 

(vv.1-2, NET)

I read recently that it was not enough to rebuild the temple, it was not enough to rebuild the walls, people had to live in Jerusalem. Here we see that the leaders of the people chose to do so, and from this we can take another leadership lesson from the book of Nehemiah,

Leaders lead with their lives.

Cheering people on from the sidelines wouldn’t have been enough, the people needed to see that their leaders truly did not dare to make light of small beginnings (Zechariah 4.10), and that they were going to, simply, practice what they had preached and move into the newly restored city. 

It seems that the rest of those willing to live in Jerusalem submitted themselves to a lottery of sorts (v.1), and the 90% not chosen were to live in the other towns (vv.25-36). The willingness of the people to move into Jerusalem was noted, and the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem (v2).

For you and for me, it is one thing to talk a good game, to maybe even contribute to something good whilst it’s going on, but when push comes to shove are we willing to lead with our whole lives? We can confirm and affirm a good work of God but, in our minds, is it sometimes too small to really get involved with (Zechariah 4.10, Nehemiah 11.1-2)? Perhaps that can be our point to ponder today – 

  • Are there areas in my life that I really need to commit to? 
  • Am I leading my family, my team, my spouse with my whole life, or am I holding something back?

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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