This week we continue our look through the book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 7:1-3 (NIV)
1 After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed. 2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. 3 I said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.”
As it has been almost 2 months since we last looked at Nehemiah we’ll start with a recap.
Chapter 1 introduced us to Nehemiah as the cup-bearer of King Artaxerxes of Persia. A hugely important role, but one with very strict rules for behaviour. We saw how Nehemiah heard about the state of Jerusalem and prayed for favour with the king.
Chapter 2 showed how Nehemiah waited 4 months for the right moment before risking everything by asking the king to send him to Jerusalem. We saw how the king not only agreed, but made him Governor of Jerusalem and sent a small army with him.
Chapter 3 gave us a detailed list of the people who worked on rebuilding the walls. It showed us the importance of people taking ownership for the work, as Nehemiah had people work on the part of the wall that directly protected their own homes.
In Chapter 4 we saw how God’s enemies opposed the rebuilding of the walls. Rather than being intimidated, the people worked all the harder. When their own people started to spread rumours and fear, the labourers each started to carry a weapon while they worked.
Chapter 5 brought a change of pace, and showed us how Nehemiah dealt with social issues. As well as giving money to the poor, he dealt with those who had been taking advantage of those them and brought them to repentance.
In Chapter 6 we saw how God’s enemies, tried one last time to defeat the Jews, by tricking Nehemiah into coming out of the city into a trap they had set for him so that they could kill him. They even used a Jewish prophet to try and trick Nehemiah into hiding in the temple.
Throughout all of this, Nehemiah remained steadfast because he held on to the Vision that God had given to him.
This was not a time for resting, but a time for consolidation!
Having rebuilt the walls, the very next thing he did was to restore the Levites and musicians to their proper roles in the temple. Securing the city had not been an end in itself but only a means to restore proper worship of God.
Nehemiah then appointed two officers in charge of the Jerusalem’s security, each responsible for half of the city. One of these he chose because he ‘feared God more than most men’, and so was known to be trustworthy
Instead of opening the city gates at sunrise, Nehemiah ordered Jerusalem’s gates to be kept closed until the sun was high. He also ordered the citizens of Jerusalem to organise a home guard, with people taking turns standing guard at night outside their own houses.
And so, although the work was done, Nehemiah knew that the people needed to act with caution and consolidate what had already been done.
Reading: Nehemiah 7:1-3
Preacher: Robin Brenchley (Minister in Training)
Led by: Richard Sills