The intimidation is not over (6.19), but at least the wall is done. And what a triumph that is! God had supplied the king’s favour, the resources, the workers, the strength, the protection and the unity to see the job completed. So, can Nehemiah end his book here? No. He must now set out on the far, far harder project, of seeking to build up a people to live within those walls. And that is going to take all of Nehemiah’s faith, skill, courage and patience. In fact, it almost breaks him.
An important work needs the best people. Hanani is appointed first, to oversee the city, and then Hananiah has the responsibility for security (vv.2-3). Clear commands and clear delegation are a leader’s continual priority, and Nehemiah doesn’t falter here. But who will live in the city? There follows a great list of names, the great and the good, the ordinary and the…suspect (vv.6-65). Some claim to be priests, but the governor makes sure that this city is built on the worship led by true priests, not those who merely say they are (v.65).
So, 50 000 begin life again in Jerusalem. Will they thrive, or will it be a disaster? They are like a church plant. They have the walls, as well as shared beliefs and a shared life. Like a plant, they have an identity and much in common with each other. But these things alone won’t guarantee life, or success. They will need to listen to God’s Word, above all, then put it into practice. For that they need a preacher, and hearts sensitive to God. Let’s wait and see.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, I know that I need to give my heart to Your church, or I will fail her, and she may fail. Help me not to hold myself back, or hide in the easy work of bricks and mortar. Make me a living stone in the work You are doing, for Your Son’s glory. Amen.