Then my God put it into my mind to assemble the nobles, the officials, and the people to be registered by genealogy. I found the genealogical recorded of those who came back first, and I found written in it: These are the people of the province who went up among the captive exiles deported by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Each of them returned to Jerusalem and Judah, to his own town. Nehemiah 7:5-6 HCSB
I cannot say that God has audibly spoken to me, but I have definitely felt God speaking to me through my thoughts and feelings. There have been many times in my life I have prayed for guidance and direction in making decisions. God has sometimes spoken to me through His Word, other people, friends, and circumstances. God is not a silent God. He will answer if we seek His direction. Sometimes His answer is “Wait” and sometimes it is “No,” although we may not want to accept it. Irregardless, God is faithful to answer the prayers of His children.
Obviously Nehemiah had been praying and seeking God’s direction on how to secure and protect the city of Jerusalem. He knew that just building the wall was not enough to protect the city. God put into Nehemiah’s mind the direction of gathering the people together for a census to register everyone. The census would provide a record of who was in or around the city of Jerusalem and would help Nehemiah determine who needed to move back to Jerusalem.
Challenge: Seek God’s direction and leadership in everything you do and say. Be still and listen for God to speak to you through His Word, through other people, and through circumstances.
I said to them, “Do not open the gates of Jerusalem until the sun is hot, and let the doors be shut and securely fastened while the guards are on duty. Station the citizens of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some at their homes.” Nehemiah 7:3 HCSB
I am a part of the Watchman Prayer Ministry at our church. We have over 120 people who have committed to pray for one hour each week for our church, our ministers, our ministries, and our community. Each “Watchman” takes his turn on the wall to “watch and pray”. The person who prays the hour before me calls me to remind me when it is my time to be on the wall to pray. At the end of my watch, I call the person who prays the following hour to remind him to watch and pray. It is important for each of us to do our part and to hold fellow watchmen accountable to complete their time of prayer.
Nehemiah assigned different families to stand watch on the section of the wall near their homes. They were to watch for the enemy and alert others of any impending danger. Each family was to do their part in protecting the city of Jerusalem. It would have been easy to relax and think that since the wall was complete, the job was finished and they were safe, but the work of protecting the people and the city had just begun. God had provided what they needed and had helped them complete the wall, but now it was time to take care of what God had entrusted to them.
Challenge: Stand watch and pray for your church, its ministries, your minister, and your community. Pray that God will use you to help protect the work of the church. Consider starting a Watchman Prayer Ministry at your church if you do not already have one.
Then I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, commander of the fortress, because he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. Nehemiah 7:2 HCSB
While serving as the Youth Consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention I was responsible for a youth camp at Windermere Baptist Assembly on the Lake of the Ozarks each summer. We had approximately 500 students and leaders each week for three weeks. I enlisted a team of four youth ministers to help me in planning and directing the camps. The ministers I selected were those I trusted and knew would do the job with excellence. They had to have administrative skills as well as people skills. Each youth minister was responsible for a different part of the youth camp experience. Each was dependent on the other. If anyone failed in his duties, it meant that we would not have a successful camp.
Nehemiah had to have people he trusted and knew would be able to handle the job of governing Jerusalem. He selected individuals who had proven to be faithful and who feared God. Faithful people can be trusted to carry out their jobs. God-fearing people will do their jobs with integrity and complete their work according to God’s principles. The men Nehemiah selected had these important qualities.
Challenge: Would others say you are a person who is always faithful to the task and fears God? If you are in a position of hiring people, select candidates who are faithful and God-fearing. Faithfulness and reverence for God are two qualities you should also seek when selecting friends. Listen to the song, “Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eERKnxzNzwg
When the wall had been rebuilt and I had the doors installed, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. Nehemiah 7:1 HCSB
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines the “Gatekeeper” as one who guards access to a place, either a city (2 Samuel 18:26 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=2%20Samuel+18:26&t1=en_nas) ; 2 Kings 7:10-11 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=2%20Kings+7:10-11&t1=en_nas) ), a residence (John 18:17 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=John+18:17&t1=en_nas) ), the sacred precincts of the ark (1 Chronicles 15:23-24 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=1%20Chronicles+15:23-24&t1=en_nas) ), or the Temple (1 Chronicles 23:5 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=1%20Chronicles+23:5&t1=en_nas) ). KJV uses the term “porter” for a gatekeeper. Temple gatekeepers were charged with preventing anyone unclean from entering the Temple (2 Chronicles 23:19 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=2%20Chronicles+23:19&t1=en_nas) ) and with guarding the Temple treasuries and storehouses (1 Chronicles 9:26
(http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=1%20Chronicles+9:26&t1=en_nas) ; 1 Chronicles 26:20-22 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=1%20Chronicles+26:20-22&t1=en_nas) ; Nehemiah 12:25 (http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=Nehemiah+12:25&t1=en_nas) ).
All of us are charged to be “Gatekeepers”. We must guard our hearts and minds, not allowing anything that is unclean to enter. As parents we are to be “Gatekeepers” for our homes so we protect our children from the evil one. There is abundant temptation in our world that is clamoring for attention. It always looks good, but a good Gatekeeper will see past the surface and determine what is good and clean and throw the dirty and evil out.
Challenge: What are you allowing to come into your life and your home through the television, the computer, radio, or even the friends you bring into your life? Monitor what your children are watching and listening to on the television and on the internet. Ask God to help you to become a good “Gatekeeper” who vigilantly watches for the evil one and protects himself from the many temptations of this world.
When the wall had been rebuilt and I had the doors installed, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. Nehemiah 7:1 HCSB
God has gifted me in the areas of administration and teaching. I enjoy doing my job as Minister of Education and Administration because I am using the gifts and talents with which God has blessed me. Each person has been gifted by God in some way. The body of Christ is made up of many different members, each with his or her unique skill or talent. When each person uses his gift to the benefit of the body, God is glorified.
Nehemiah appointed people to be gatekeepers, singers, and Levites. All of these jobs were important in the protection of the city. The gatekeepers were charged to keep watch and only allow those into the city that were supposed to be there. The singers were appointed to praise God and the Levites were assigned to lead worship and to offer sacrifices for the people. Nehemiah understood the importance of physically protecting the city with gatekeepers, but more importantly the people needed to trust God to protect them. For the people to have a right relationship with God, they needed to sing praises, offer sacrifices for their sins, and worship Him. The gatekeepers played just as important role as the singers and Levites.
Challenge: If you are going to take a stand against our enemy, Satan, then you must physically protect yourself from the evils and temptations of the world; but more importantly, you must maintain a right relationship with God. Take a spiritual gifts survey at http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_PDF_Discover_Your_Spiritual_Gifts.pdf. God has gifted you in a unique way to play an important role of service in His kingdom.
The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. Nehemiah 6:15 HCSB
I found this story on the internet: Jackie was following her dreams of working and living in Egypt when she decided to take a weekend trip to Athens, Greece. Things took a deadly turn on her flight home when the plane she was on was hijacked and Jackie was shot at point-blank range and thrown on the tarmac to die. Although she lay on the tarmac for five hours before anyone found her, Jackie said she felt at peace because she felt like God was telling her that she was going to be okay. Jackie did in fact survive—though she was left with impaired vision and a loss of short-term memory. This is just one of many stories of how people have overcome obstacles and accomplished great feats.
Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem could be added to the list of amazing accounts. Many people said it could not be done. The job was too big and there were too many challenges to overcome. But when God’s people came together under the leadership of Nehemiah, they solved huge problems and accomplished great goals. Even by today’s standards with state of the art equipment, it would be a monumental task to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days.
Challenge: Do not let the size of the task, the length of time required to accomplish it, or the number of obstacles that must be overcome keep you from accomplishing what God has called you to do. Keep going and focus on the end goal. With God’s help you can accomplish great things!
I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: Let us meet at the house of God inside the temple. Let us shut the temple doors because they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you tonight! But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can I enter the temple and live? I will not go.” I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me. Nehemiah 6:10-13 HCSB
We all have the natural instinct to protect ourselves and run from danger. If we feel threatened in some way we will usually respond in one of two ways. Either we will stand and fight or turn and run. As a child in middle school I was picked on and even had lunch money stolen from me. Because those who were bullying me were larger in stature, I would usually try to avoid them to protect myself and my lunch money.
Nehemiah could not trust the support of some of the people. Shemaiah appeared to be Nehemiah’s friend and pretended to be trying to protect him from his enemies, but the reality was that Shemaiah had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat to intimidate Nehemiah. Shemaiah tried to get Nehemiah to go to the temple and hide in an effort to protect him from his enemies. It would have been wrong for Nehemiah to go into the temple because he was not a priest. If he had given into the fear and gone into the temple, he would have been discredited as a leader. He would have also undermined the courage that he was trying to instill in the people.
Challenge: Be wise and determine if someone is really trying to help you or if they are only trying to persuade you to do something you should not do. Satan is alive and well and will sometimes even use friends and relatives to tempt you in some way. When you yield to the temptation, you disappoint God and minimize your personal testimony.
Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished.” But now, my God, strengthen me. Nehemiah 6:8-9 HCSB
It was a very difficult time for me when my father died nine years ago. I prayed for strength to help me through the difficult days that followed his death and funeral. God truly supplied all of my needs. There have been many times in my life when I have prayed for strength and guidance, especially when I was facing a temptation or determining what God’s will was for my life. Life is filled with many challenges that require strength and courage.
Nehemiah faced the rumors and intimidation of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. When faced with opposition and problems, we often cry out to God, “Get me out of this situation.” Nehemiah did not pray for deliverance; he prayed for strength. He was determined not to let anything stand in the way of accomplishing the task God had given him to do. Nehemiah was steadfast in pursuing God’s assignment.
Challenge: Ignore rumors and do not be intimidated by others. Pray for strength the next time you are facing a difficult situation or dealing with those who are ridiculing you or trying to keep you from doing the task God has given you.
Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aid, who had an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations – and Geshem agrees – that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf: “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together. Nehemiah 6:5-7 HCSB
There are some people who find joy in gossiping, telling secrets, and spreading rumors in an attempt to discredit someone or to gain acceptance from others. It seems that just about every public figure is a target for gossip and rumors. Some rumors may be true, but often the comments are untrue and do not give an accurate picture of what is happening. There is a well-known pastor who has had something he said taken out of context and used against him. Too many times a public figure is discredited by what others are saying. Those who find fault in the person are frequently jealous of the other person’s position, power, or abilities.
Sanballat tried to discredit Nehemiah and turn the people against him by saying that he was going to set himself up as king. He also threatened to share with the king that Nehemiah was going to lead the Jewish people to revolt. Note that the message was an open letter and not sealed, which was customary. The message could easily be read by others. Sanballat did this in an attempt to spread rumors about Nehemiah.
Challenge: Have you been a gossip or spread rumors about someone? Ask forgiveness from that person. Pray that God would help you to always tell the truth and not share information that should be kept private.
Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Nehemiah 6:2-3 HCSB
One of the highlights of my call to ministry through the years was helping Belle Aire Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee relocate their church campus. I helped with the sale of their property, purchasing new property, securing a loan, hiring an architect, enlisting a contractor, designing the building, overseeing the construction, and planning how to physically move from one location to another. It was a great work. Even though there were many obstacles to overcome during the three year process, I enjoyed getting to be a part of what God was doing.
Nehemiah was in the middle of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. It was hard work to clear the rubble from when the walls were destroyed, secure new materials, and then organize the people to rebuild the walls. He even had to plan how they could defend themselves in the event of an attack by an enemy. Sanballat and Geshem did not want the walls to be rebuilt and tried to lure Nehemiah to a place about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. This would have been at least a one day journey by foot. There was no reason for Nehemiah to travel away from the work he was doing. More than likely the intent of Sanballat and Geshem was to ambush and kill Nehemiah along the way.
Challenge: What are you doing for God’s kingdom work? Be assured that you will face opposition and challenges when you are doing a great work for God. Satan will do everything within his power to complicate matters and create problems for you. Pray for strength and wisdom as you continue the great work God has given to you.