So far we have covered 4 factors behinds the success of Nehemiah.
1st Factor : He realised his commission and he prayed to God to help him (Part 1)
2nd Factor : He was able to seize the opportunity and he was well prepared. (Part 1)
3rd Factor : Nehemiah visited the ground to gain a personal understanding (Part 2)
4th Factor : Nehemiah encourage the Jews To Work For The Lord (Part 2)
Let us study the 5th factor behind his success.
5th Factor : Nehemiah knew how to make everyone work together
Nehemiah did not just inspire the Jews to work for the Lord. He knew how to get everyone to work together. If there are only workers and no leaders, everyone will just act as they will. They will not be able to cooperate and collaborate with each other. As the result their work would produce bad result. That is why there is a need to have leaders to help the work to be done effectively.
Leaders must set the direction to work and to plan for the work. He needs to allocate manpower to finish the work. Let us look at the group of people involved in the work.
The Work Of Priest And Officers
“Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with
his brethren the priests and built the Sheep
Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors.
They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred,and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of
Hananel.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:1)
Here tells us that high priest Eliashib and his brethren built the sheep gate. In fact the work started from the high priest and the others priest. The high priest is a man of status, and we know that the other priests serve in the temple. These are men with special status.
Yet they are the first who rise up to build the wall. They are willing to serve in the temple and they are willing to let go of their, they rolled up their sleeves and they began building the sheep gate. They are not the only priests who took part of the work.
“And after him the priests, the
men of the plain made repairs.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:22)
Here talks about the priest who lived in the plains. They are the priests living in the eastern side of the Jordan. When we study the book of Joshua there are 2 tribes living on the eastern side of the Jordan. They lived in the cities of refuge which were given to the Levites. These priest only cross the river Jordan when they are assigned to serve at the temple. But over here they came over to help to rebuild the city walls.
“And next to them Rephaiah the
son of Hur, leader of half the
district of Jerusalem, made repairs.
And next to him was Shallum the son
of Hallohesh, leader of half the district
of Jerusalem; he and his daughters
made repairs.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:9,12)
Here is records the leaders of the district of Jerusalem building the wall. At the same time Neh 3:14-19 also records of the leaders of the various districts coming to participate in the work. There are a total of 7 leaders from each district, all of them are men with power and authority.
These are men who usually give orders and have workers to do the work. Yet they are willing to do the work and to take part in the work of rebuilding the wall.
The Work Of The Goldsmith, Perfumers, Merchants
“Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah,
one of the goldsmiths, made repairs.
Also next to him Hananiah, one of the
perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified
Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.
After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths,
made repairs as far as the house of the
Nethinim and of the merchants, in front
of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the
upper room at the corner.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:8,32)
Here records of tradesmen and businessmen helping to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. All of us know that workers and businessmen had a primary focus in making money. But here we see them coming to do work for free. For they had this realisation that life i not just about making money. For there not all work have a monetary value. There are occasions where we need to work for God and not to make money. There are times we need to offer ourselves and serve God with our abilities.
This is where we can see how Nehemiah encouragement to the Jews are successful. For he is able to move both officers as well as common man. He is able to move high priest and district leaders. He is even able to move businessmen who are usually interested only to make money. He made all of them realise that they need to put in effort to rebuild the wall. None of them regarded themselves as high ranking and do not need to work. Nor are those in the lower ranks feel that they are too lowly to join in the world. Everyone understand that it is the time for them to put in effort to rebuild the walls of the house of the Lord. Nehemiah used the words of God to move them, and they were stirred up in their heart by the spirit of the Lord.
Likewise today as servants of God, we must rise up and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Only those who are not part of the household of God do not need to get involved with this work. They may even choose to oppose and run away from the work. Let us continue to study another group of workers who took up the work.
The Nobleman Sons, Daughters And Grand Children
“And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh,
leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and
his daughters made repairs.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:12)
Here records of a daughter of the leader making repairs. The work of building the city wall is a manual work. It is a work often done by men. Most women and ladies work at home, but here we see the children of the leaders, they are nobles who had not did hard work in their lives before. They are from the second generation born with a silver spoon, but here they are willing to help their parents with the work. They choose to let go of their status as the rich man to do their part.
For they know that before God they have no special status, in the eyes of God they are also the children of God and they must do their duty.
“And next to them Meremoth the son of
Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs.
Next to them Meshullam the son of
Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel,
made repairs. Next to them Zadok
the son of Baana made repairs” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:4)
Here we see Meremoth, he is the son of Urijah the grandson of Koz. Even though the bible did not tell us what he did, but we can see that he is a 3rd generation. In the church we often see the first generation of believers with strong faith, and some may be able to keep their faith into the second generation. But many families are unable to keep their faith at the third generation. But over here there are third generation believers working for the Lord. This is a sight that is rare to see.
Today as we read how the Jews were working, it moves us and motivate us. Telling us that everyone , regardless of their status and background had one heart and one mind and they are set to complete the work. This includes Jews who are staying on the east side of the Jordan river, outside the city of Jerusalem. They share a common responsibility for they regarded Jerusalem as their home.
The Importance Of Being A Part Of Jerusalem
Today if we want to be a part of the city of Jerusalem, we must play our parts as well. This is similar to the reminder to the Jews from Nehemiah. If you do not rise up and build you will have no heritage , right or memorial in Jerusalem (Neh 2:20). Therefore we need to ask ourselves, “Do you want to be part of this city of Jerusalem?”. Perhaps it is true that the church is weak , it had many problems and sometimes we are affected by the problem personally. It makes us feel disappointed to the extent that we do not want to be a part of it anymore.
But we often neglect one point, that if we choose not to participate in the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. By the time when the new Jerusalem appear from heaven. As everyone is taken up into heaven, will we be among those who are in the new Jerusalem?
We need to preserve our faith and ensure that we remain in the church. No matter what happens. For there are many who comfort themselves saying “I have not left Jesus, I just left the church. I choose not to take part or to have anything to do with the church. But I will still preserve my faith and to love God forever”
But do we still remember the vision of John in revelation?
“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod.
And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure
the temple of God, the altar, and those who
worship there. But leave out the court which is
outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it
has been given to the Gentiles. And they will
tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. “ – John (Rev 11:1-2)
When God told John to measure the temple, he need to measure those who are worshipping there. Leave out the court which is outside the temple for it is given to the gentiles, the outsider. If those outside the courts are the children of God, they will realise their responsibility and they will enter the temple and worship. if they choose to remain outside then do not measure them.
Usually, we find these words harsh. If the speaker were to say this, we will judge him as a bad speaker. We will question him asking “How can you judge others? He only left the church why do you regard him as a gentile?”
But this is the words written in the bible, we just read it together in the book of revelations. We need to keep this image in our heart. For Jesus instructed John only to measure those who are in the temple worshipping. We need to strive and keep our faith within the church for it is the house of God. It is the temple of God. We need to put in our effort to serve in the house of the Lord.
The Simple Task And The Difficult Task
The Book of Nehemiah also recorded the work schedule done by Nehemiah, it tells us how he divided and assigned everyone to work. Everyone had an area to work, and some of the work are easy while some of the work are difficult.
“Also the sons of Hassenaah built
the Fish Gate; they laid its beams
and hung its doors with its bolts
and bars.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:3)
The sons of Hassenaah had to lay beams and hung the doors with bolts and bars. it is a complicated work. There are some who are assigned the simple work of building a wall, while there are some who are given the task to work on the gates which require more effort. If we are assigned an easy task we can relax and thank God. But what happens when we are given the difficult work? How would we react to it?
There are some work which require great strength and it is tiring.
“And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua,
the leader of Mizpah, repaired another
section in front of the Ascent to the
Armory at the buttress. After him
Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully
repaired the other section, from the
buttress to the door of the house
of Eliashib the high priest.”-Nehemiah (Neh 3:19-20)
There are sections of the wall that are uphill and some are in the turns. If you are assigned an downhill or flat area it is easy, but if the wall you are building is curved it will be heart. Sometimes working uphill and the turns are difficult, just like the city gate. But when we see the people accepting their duties even if they are assigned difficult areas. Even though the work is hard and tiring they are willing to put in effort. Even though the work is hard, someone would have to do it.
If everyone wants easy work and they choose to push away the difficult work for others to do Then others will also want to push away their duty and not work on the difficult work. Therefore we need to have the right attitude when it comes to doing the difficult work. Even though we are assign a difficult task, we will be able to finish it with the help of God.
Let us also consider something else.
“And next to them Meremoth the son
of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs.
Next to them Meshullam the son of
Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel,
made repairs. Next to them Zadok the
son of Baana made repairs.
After him Meremoth the son of Urijah,
the son of Koz,, repaired another section,
from the door of the house of Eliashib to
the end of the house of Eliashib” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:4,21)
Over here we see a 3rd Generation believer, Meremoth, he is allocated 2 different area. It is already difficult work to be assigned with one section of the wall for work. Looking at the allocation he is probably a priest. If Meremoth was indeed a priest, it would have been exemplary. For it is already good that he was willing to do the work, yet he put in extra effort to complete 2 parts of the wall.
While some of us may think that such allocation is unfair, but here we can see the faith of Meremoth. He is willing to work and he did not complain even when there are extra work to do. He is willing to do extra work for the Lord. This is a trait often seen in 1st generation believers, therefore it is rare to see that in a 3rd generation believer.
On the surface, it may appear easy to divide the work and for everyone to work together. But in reality this is difficult. For there are easy work as well as difficult work, and sometimes it is easy to see the boundary of the work and there are times where the boundaries are grey and hard to define. We need to remember that all the section must be joined together and who would be in charge of the joining? The joints within the wall is an important aspect especially when one is building a city wall.
From here we know that there are many grey areas and it is hard to allocate all the work fairly. Therefore whenever we are assigned a difficult work, we need to be understanding and accept the work. We must be willing to put in the extra effort for we know who is our real master.
Let us not be calculative and not be complainers, but we ought to remember our master. For if we do not do so, we will allow our imagination to run while and we will have a feeling that we are being bullied. Often these are test to see if we truly know who we are serving while we serve. Are we working for Nehemiah or are we working for God? If we are unable to answer this question we will continue to be unhappy with our work allocations. That unhappiness will eventually lead to conflict with others.
Different Gifts But The Same Master
There was a story that I would like to share. In a carpenters workshop there were a quarrel among the tools. The wooden plank is protesting complaining about the nails are too sharp and they were trying to hurt him. But the nails replied in defence “I am not trying to hurt you, it was the hammer forcing me to do so. It was the hammer that made me pierce you. When Hammer heard it, he replied “I did not force the nail to poke you, but it was the ruler who decides where I should hammer.” While everyone is staring at the ruler. The Ruler replied “Please do not accuse me of hurting the plank, my work is to give the right measurement” But the saw got angry and he spoke “He claims that he had the right measurement , but in fact he asked me to saw the extra off. While I am working non stop, I became hot and angry”
While all the tools are still fighting, the carpenter entered the workshop. He took the ruler and measured the plank. He took the saw and saw the wood. Then he used the hammer to nail the nails based on his measurement. The carpenter is trying to make a pulpit, for there will be a special service tonight, and the speaker will be using the pulpit to preach the gospel of Jesus.
This is what the bible is trying to tell us.
“And He Himself gave some
to be apostles, some prophets,
some evangelists, and some pastors
and teachers, for the equipping of
the saints for the work of ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ,” – Paul (Eph 4:11-12)
God had given everyone different gifts. It doesn’t matter what roles we are playing and where our talents lies. But we need to be clear about the objectives of our work for God had given us this gift to edify the saints. It is to equip the saints to teach them and train them into acceptable worker for the Lord. So that they can perform their duties and edify the body of Christ
We are here to build up the body of Christ, that is the work of each and everyone of us. This is not just the responsibly of the apostles, the prophets, the preachers and the teachers, it is our work altogether. We need to ask God to help us in our roles and responsibly and we need to stop comparing and murmuring against one another.
Those Unwilling To Do The Work
We know that the plans and work allocation of Nehemiah is perfect and well thought. We will assume that all is perfect and everyone will be willing and happy to do their duty. But the truth is, there are people who are unwilling to do the work.
“Next to them the Tekoites made repairs;
but their nobles did not put their shoulders
to the work of their Lord.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:5)
Here records that the nobles of the Tekoites did not take up their part of the work. Even though the Tekoites are willing to do the work, but their nobles did not take part in the work. For they think they are nobles and they are high and mighty. Sometimes this amuses us. For we will ask “Didn’t they see the high priest working as well as the district leaders? aven’t they heard of the children of the nobles working? Even the daughters are willing to do their part. What makes them think that they are so noble and are unable to shoulder the responsibility?”
But the bible tells us that the Tekoites were unaffected by their nobles who refuse to take up the work. They just let them be even though it will mean that the work would be harder since they have less manpower. Even if it means that they must do extra work they are alright with the arrangement. In fact The Tekoites did 2 sections of the wall. This was recorded in Nehemiah
“After them the Tekoites repaired another
section, next to the great projecting tower,
and as far as the wall of Ophel.” – Nehemiah (Neh 3:27)
The Tekoites had every reason not to take up additional work and even if they were to reject it it would have been acceptable. But they knew that if they did not do their part, it will affect the other work arrangement. They are unwilling to hinder the work even if their nobles refuse to work. They continue to work on their allocated sections no matter what happens.
Even as Nehemiah allocated all the work, there are still people unwilling to cooperate with him. But the whole organisation remains unaffected. The rest of the Jews did not stop working just because some of them refuse to cooperate. Human beings tend to follow the crowd, do as what the others do. We tend not to follow the good example, but we choose to follow the bad examples. In church we often do an attendance check and we say “Since this person is not here I should not come as well”. But we never asked ourselves “Why are you not following the examples of those who are here”"?”
Those who do not wish to work will always find reasons not to work, they will choose only to look up to those who do not work and pass comments. They will think “There must be a problem that is why these men refuse to work” “Nehemiah must be biased in his work allocation and allocated unfairly to them”. Then they will continue to find more evidence to prove that he is unfair.
But if we were to look at the facts, we know that Nehemiah’s work schedule includes the high priest as well as the leaders. He is fair and he did not make life easy just for the priest and the leaders. He encourage them to work and to be an example for others to see.
Why Didn’t The Holy Spirit Move Everyone?
Sometimes as we read the story of Nehemiah we would wonder “Why didn’t the Holy Spirit move all the Jews, why are there people choosing not to work?”
In fact this is not something strange. For we also read of the moving of the Holy Spirit in acts of the apostles. Many sold their belonging and shared whatever they had with others. It is suppose to be a time where the church is perfect in love as well as faith. But yet there are Christians who neglect the Christian widows who were Hellenist. That created a conflict within the church and the apostles have to resolve the problem.
They appointed 7 deacons to handle to problem so that it would not become a big issue. Indeed the Holy Spirit can move people but there will always be people who refused to be moved by him. They will continue to pursue their selfish agenda and ambition. They will follow their own plan and refuse to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
If such people exist even at the time of the Apostles where the Holy Spirit is working mightily. What more will it be in the last days?
That is why we need to look at the big picture, so that we can reach the goal that God intended. There will always be people who oppose and are unwilling to work. We should just leave them be, for God is watching and he will record what they have done in his book of remembrance.
Just like how he recorded the Tekoites nobles being unwilling to take part in the work.
Today our church is trying to be like the apostolic church of the end times. Are we going to help or will we put in effort to obstruct the work?
Conclusion Of The Point
No matter what, there will always be people wiling to help the church. There will always be people willing to pay the price and do the work. They did not because they know they are working for God and their reward will be in heaven.
Likewise there will always be people who will obstruct slander and attack the church. We have experienced this in many places. and many of us are affected by it.
It is time we ask ourselves “When Jesus come again and meet us, he will ask us “What have you done during you time on earth? Who are you working for? What did you do?” What will our answer be before God?
May God help each and everyone of us, so that we will continue to put in effort to build up the church in this time of need. Let us all rise up and build the wall so that our Jerusalem will be strong and perfect before God.