Rebuilding the Walls: Part 3 – The Assembly (Nehemiah 7)

The book of Nehemiah does more than share with us the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. It also shows us the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem; namely, the people. It is not enough that the city walls and gates are rebuilt. The people of God need to return to Jerusalem and worship the Lord on Mount Zion. In Nehemiah 7, we learn about God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. We see how God worked through Nehemiah to rebuild the leadership and membership of Jerusalem, and rebuild the worship of Yahweh.

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Rebuilding Leadership

The wall was rebuilt in 52 days (6:15) and it was clear to the people and their enemies that “this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:16). The wall was finished, but the work was far from over. Enemies were still plotting and scheming. Nehemiah knew what needed to be done next and he turned his attention to establishing faithful, godly leaders. He said, “Now when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed, then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many” (7:1-2). Nehemiah needed leaders who could be trusted. He instructed them: “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot” (7:3). Normally, gates are opened in the morning and closed at night. Nehemiah instructs Hanani and Hananiah that they must remain closed until midday because of the possibility of attacks from their surrounding enemies. While standing guard “shut and bolt the doors. Also, appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house” (7:3). 

Faithful leadership is vital. The Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete “that you could set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as  directed you” (Titus 1:5). These men were to be “above reproach” (Titus 1:6). Just as Jerusalem needed godly leaders, the Church needs faithful men who fear God more than many (7:2). We need godly Christian men who have demonstrated faith and fear of God. Godly leaders are used by God to preserve and carry on His work. Godly leaders are a blessing to God’s people. Weak leaders are a curse to God’s people. Godly elders work “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to  mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:12-13)

Rebuilding Membership

Nehemiah records that “the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built” (Neh 7:4). God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to assemble the leaders and establish membership/citizenship in Jerusalem. The list in Nehemiah 7 is almost identical to the list recorded in Ezra 2. This list is important because it establishes God’s faithfulness to keep His covenant promises. God promised exile if the Jews rebelled against him (Deut 28) and also promised that if they returned to Him in repentance and faith “then Yahweh your God will return you from captivity and return His compassion on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where Yahweh your God has scattered you” (Deut 30:3). The names may be hard to pronounce but they serve as confirmation that God has kept His promise to return His people back to the Promised Land. Warren Weirsbe commented: “Reading this long list of difficult names might be boring to the modern student, but these people were God’s ‘bridge’ from the defeats of the past to the hopes of the future…and made it possible for Jesus Christ to come into the world.” 

Membership is not a trivial matter. Some of the men could not prove their ancestral genealogy was Jewish and they “were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim” (7:64-65). In our day, Church membership is vital to the health and strength of the Church. At First Baptist, we take membership seriously because we made a covenant before God and one another to help one another grow in spiritual maturity. 1 Corinthians 12 shows us that we are all members of the body. Each one of us has been gifted and called for a specific role to play for the good of the body. Paul wrote: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). 

Rebuilding Worship

The walls have been rebuilt. The Temple has been rebuilt. Nehemiah has assembled faithful leaders and has established appropriate members. What is all of this for? All of this leads to worship. We are told that “the whole assembly together was 42,360” (7:66). Added to this was their servants, the singers, and their animals. In verses 70-72, we learn that the people gave towards the work. The parallel account in Ezra 2:68-69 says they “gave a freewill offering for the house of God to restore it on its foundation. According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for the work…” In addition to their offerings, they gave themselves to worship. Nehemiah says, “now the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants and all Israel, lived in their cities” (7:73). What a contrast verse 73 is to verse 4. Where once was a barren, empty city is now a thriving city of worship!

God is calling His people to truly worship Him. Jesus said, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). Stephen Olford wrote: “What a mind-boggling concept–the Father is seeking us! He seeks us in our totality. He wants our spirits in adoration; He wants our souls in contemplation; He wants our bodies in dedication; He wants our service in consecration.” The mission of the First Baptist is Helping People Experience Life Transformation. What is behind the need for transformation? Worship! Those who are transformed by Christ worship Him!There is no higher calling upon our lives than to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Worship is a lifestyle. Christians worship Christ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pray for God to continue to provide us with godly leaders because God is worthy of our worship. Let us take membership seriously because God is worthy of our worship. Let us worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Pray for God to work through us.

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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