The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to them. (Nehemiah 3:2)
One of the books of the Bible that has spoken to me most during this time of ongoing transition during the last two years is Nehemiah. The story of how Nehemiah asked to return to Jerusalem to rebuild after the Babylonian exile contains many lessons for all of us as we rebuild after our exile.
Chapter 3 is one of those chapters in Nehemiah that consists largely of unpronounceable names and long-forgotten people! It can be discouraging to come to a chapter like this and not recognize any of the names. But it tells the story of the work of repairing the gates and walls of Jerusalem that Nehemiah had been sent there to do.
The basic thing Chapter 3 tells us is that they all worked together. All through this account, you will find the phrase “next to him worked” so and so, and “next to them worked” others. Some of them worked more, others less, and, unfortunately, some did not work at all. They helped one another. Nehemiah had so marvelously organized this project that each one had a section of the wall or a gate assigned to him.
We also notice they worked near their home. Look at verse 10: Jedaiah made repairs opposite his house. Verse 23 tells of certain men who made repairs in front of their house. The important truth that emerges is that this is God's design for ministry. God has placed us all strategically where God wants us to be. Your neighborhood, office, or home is where your ministry should be as a follower Christ. That is why God put you there.
And then there is also where God has strategically placed you to be in the church community, too. God has sent you to Nolensville First to do something as God as sent me here, as well. In John 15, Jesus said to His disciples that He had appointed them, and the word means strategically placed them. He had put them in the place where He wanted them to be. This is brought out beautifully in Nehemiah as we watch these people laboring in their own neighborhood.
One commentator has said: God is a great believer in putting names down. That is true. There are many chapters like this in the Scriptures. But that should really encourage us. It means that God has not forgotten our names either.
The central teaching of this chapter is that in putting lives back together, we need and must seek help from each other. This is a great chapter about cooperation. It illustrates the New Testament truth concerning the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, among others, teach that believers in Christ are part of a worldwide body, made up of many members. We belong to each other, and so we are to help one another and bear one another's burdens. This is portrayed in a very dramatic way throughout this chapter.
We learn from the New Testament that there are two things you cannot say any longer when you become a Christian. The first is, You do not need me. Everyone in the body of Christ needs everyone else. The second is, I do not need you. You and I do need others! It is the awareness of that truth that makes a church a living, warm, vital, and loving fellowship.
In the summoning of the people of Jerusalem to rebuild their walls and their gates, we learn that all the people were involved in the project. That portrays for us an important principle of the New Testament: that the ministry of the church belongs to everyone in the congregation. I do not know any truth more important for the accomplishing of God's work than that.
Susan, Hannah, and I look forward to being fully present in our ministry together as we move into the parsonage on July 6 & 7 after having traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the National Holstein Convention where Susan has been a leader for years (black and white dairy cows have always been a major part of Susan’s life.)
There is something for everyone to do as we prepare for our last major opportunity this summer to reach out to our Nolensville community this month for Vacation Bible School. And getting ready to get back to everything in the fall. When we work together, we can accomplish amazing things that bring glory and praise to God’s name and continue to build the kingdom of God here on earth. Let’s build it one block at a time — together.
Rev. Jeremy Squires, firstname.lastname@example.org