Nehemiah Project: Constructing the Walls
Building the Walls of a Holy Society
Introduction: Did you ever have “show and tell” day at school? Remember what that was
like? You would bring something—or someone—meaningful to you to school to show off
and to tell why it mattered to you. Which was more important, showing? Or telling? Maybe
your classmates loved how interesting it was for you to
them something new or
unusual. But would they have fully understood why you brought it, if you didn’t also
them. Or if you just
them about something important to you, would it have had the
same effect, if you didn’t also
them? We are going to make spiritual application of this
principle today from
First of all, however, Nehemiah 3 is great bedtime reading—it will put you right to sleep.
One of the most popular books on Nehemiah,
Hand Me Another Brick,
by Chuck Swindoll,
doesn’t even discuss chapter 3. My former pastor, O.S. Hawkins’ book doesn’t cover chapter
3 either. Before we all give up and go home, God does have a message for us this morning
from this passage, nonetheless.
Background: In recent weeks, we have discussed Nehemiah 1-2, as Pastor Jerry has shared
about “Capturing the Vision of Transformation” and “Concentrating on Your God-Given
Mission.” If you have ever read the book of Nehemiah, you may realize that it is often noted
for the leadership principles in Nehemiah’s administration of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s
walls. What is interesting in the way we read books of the bible like Nehemiah is that it
reveals a problem in the way we understand Scripture. For example, it may be said that
Nehemiah Chapter 3
teaches us how to delegate in our organizational leadership.
might be seen to teach us how to solve problems.
But to read Nehemiah in this way reveals that we may be a bit shallow in how we read the
Bible, that we read it in much the way that we read fables, looking for a moral to the story.
To read the story of David and Goliath in this way might lead us to the moral, “the bigger
they are, the harder they fall.” While it may be true that we can find these morals in the
Bible—that Nehemiah teaches leadership principles,—that is not what the Bible is for. The
Bible is a human book, so the message is transmitted to us in a way that we can understand,
always with practical applications. But the Bible is also a Divine book, with one consistent
redemptive story, written by a Divine author.
The subtitle for this chapter is “
Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem.”
Pay attention as I read to:
(1) words that are repeated, words like “repaired” or “next to them” and (2) to what is
different—like the different types of people involved in this project.
Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate.
They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred,
which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel.
People from the town of Jericho worked
next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri.
The Fish Gate was built by the sons
of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and
Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz repaired the next section of wall.
Beside him were Meshullam son of Berekiah and grandson of Meshezabel, and then Zadok
son of Baana.
Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with
the construction supervisors.
The Old City Gate
was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and
Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and
Next to them were Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, people from Gibeon,
and people from Mizpah, the headquarters of the governor of the province west of the
Next was Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith by trade, who also worked
on the wall. Beyond him was Hananiah, a manufacturer of perfumes. They left out a section
of Jerusalem as they built the Broad Wall.
Rephaiah son of Hur, the leader of half the
district of Jerusalem, was next to them on the wall.
Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired
the wall across from his own house, and next to him was Hattush son of Hashabneiah.
Then came Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab, who repaired
another section of the wall and the Tower of the Ovens.
Shallum son of Hallohesh and his
daughters repaired the next section. He was the leader of the other half of the district of
The Valley Gate was repaired by the people from Zanoah, led by Hanun. They
set up its doors and installed its bolts and bars. They also repaired the 1,500 feet
of wall to the
The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, the leader of the Beth-
hakkerem district. He rebuilt it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.
Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum
son of Col-hozeh, the leader of the Mizpah district.
He rebuilt it, roofed it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Then he repaired the
wall of the pool of Siloam
near the king’s garden, and he rebuilt the wall as far as the stairs
that descend from the City of David.
Next to him was Nehemiah son of Azbuk, the leader
of half the district of Beth-zur. He rebuilt the wall from a place across from the tombs of
David’s family as far as the water reservoir and the House of the Warriors.
Next to him,
repairs were made by a group of Levites working under the supervision of Rehum son of
Bani. Then came Hashabiah, the leader of half the district of Keilah, who supervised the
building of the wall on behalf of his own district.
Next down the line were his countrymen
led by Binnui
son of Henadad, the leader of the other half of the district of Keilah.
them, Ezer son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section of wall across from
the ascent to the armory near the angle in the wall.
Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai,
who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of
Eliashib the high priest.
Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz rebuilt another
section of the wall extending from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of the house.
The next repairs were made by the priests from the surrounding region.
After them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the section across from their house, and
Azariah son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah repaired the section across from his
Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from
Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner.
Palal son of Uzai carried on the work from a
point opposite the angle and the tower that projects up from the king’s upper house beside
the court of the guard. Next to him were Pedaiah son of Parosh,
with the Temple servants
living on the hill of Ophel, who repaired the wall as far as a point across from the Water
Gate to the east and the projecting tower.
Then came the people of Tekoa, who repaired
another section across from the great projecting tower and over to the wall of Ophel.
Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section
immediately across from his own house.
Next Zadok son of Immer also rebuilt the wall
across from his own house, and beyond him was Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the gatekeeper
of the East Gate.
Next Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph,
repaired another section, while Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall across from
where he lived.
Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the wall as far as the housing for
the Temple servants and merchants, across from the Inspection Gate. Then he continued as
far as the upper room at the corner.
The other goldsmiths and merchants repaired the wall
from that corner to the Sheep Gate.
Main Point: You and I, as followers of Jesus, have both a spiritual and a human responsibility
to rebuild the “walls” of the Kingdom of God in our world, by
the love of
I. We have a spiritual responsibility to show and tell.
Exp: Nehemiah is a book in which the activities of the human Nehemiah point to the
ultimate, spiritual Nehemiah. The human Nehemiah was “in the palace.” He was completely
safe, and he had it made, serving in the king’s presence. Nehemiah left an ideal place and
went out to identify with His people. He went into dangerous circumstances, at the risk of
his own life, for the good of his people, to make them, once again, citizens of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah is a history book, which records the true account of a real man, who demonstrated
courage, sacrifice and resourceful leadership in coordinating the rebuilding of the walls of
But there is also a spiritual Nehemiah, of whom we should take note. Long before He is born,
Jesus Christ is foreshadowed, glimpsed or anticipated, over and over again, in the Old
Testament, and this is also true in Nehemiah. Scholars call these glimpses of Jesus, “types of
Christ.” Here are examples of types of Christ in the O.T.:
Adam – representative of humanity and first among the children of God
Noah – the sole righteous person of his generation and deliverer of a remnant
Melchizadek – only other biblical High Priest who was also king
Abraham – stranger and foreigner who would father an everlasting nation
Joseph – suffered and then ascended to the highest place to deliver his people
Moses – mediator of God and his people, redeemer and law giver of covenant
Joshua – (name means savior) led God’s people into the Promised Land
Nehemiah is also a type of Christ. Jesus is the ultimate Nehemiah, sort of a spiritual version
of the rebuilder of the walls of Jerusalem. Consider this: The spiritual Nehemiah, Jesus, was
“in the heavenly palace.” He was completely safe, and he had it made in the King’s (God’s)
presence. The spiritual Nehemiah left this ideal place (heaven) and came down to earth to
identify with His people. He went out into dangerous circumstances—not at the risk of his
own life, but at the cost of his own life. And He did it for the good of His people, to make us
all citizens of His heavenly city.
To be Jesus’ people today means we are called to participate in His redemptive purposes.
Jesus has “bought back” all of us who trust Him and live for Him, by shedding His blood in
our place and giving us salvation. You and I participate with Him in the ongoing work of
redeeming, or reclaiming others, whose lives have been destroyed or damaged by sin and
Satan. We rebuild God’s holy, spiritual city by “show and tell,” demonstration and
others the difference that the love of God makes and
how they too can experience this personally.
App: As the church, we are building a spiritual city, surrounded by the walls of God’s
salvation. So whose job is it to rebuild the walls, to
show and tell
, anyway? Nehemiah’s story
is a human one, but it is part of an eternal, spiritual story. And so is your story. As believers,
we all have a profound responsibility--to live as “types of Christ,” faithfully rebuilding the
spiritual walls of our world and society in our respective generations.
Look at the different persons we observed in the passage we just read:
Goldsmiths Merchants Temple Servants
Other Priests People different towns Sons
Levites Grandsons Countrymen
Manufacturers Daughters District Leaders
People from the headquarters of the governor
Rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls was a united, holy effort, undertaken by every walk of
society—governors and tradesmen, priests and laypersons, male and female, older and
younger generations, manufacturers and merchants, people living near the wall and from
surrounding towns. The phrase repeats---“next to them,” “next to him,”…
This is a holy society, of God’s people mobilized for God’s purpose. It includes everyone. The
challenge for us is to show and tell the love of God, to build up the church/his holy city.
Everyone serving in unity for one purpose, without exception.
If you had never read the Bible, but you lived in Nehemiah’s and you watched these people
rebuild the walls, or if you knew Nehemiah’s story, and watched him sacrifice for the sake of
his people, you might gain some understanding of the gospel, right? If someone explained to
you that God had a similar plan for your spiritual life, you might understand that God wants
to build walls of protection and prosperity around your life.
You are a type of Christ. As you have heard, you might be the only Jesus someone will ever
see. Your life may be the only Bible that someone will ever read. When you live for God and
His purposes, the stakes are eternal. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your life is not your
own, and you have a role in someone’s redemptive history.
II. We have a human responsibility to show and tell.
Exp: Look again at the words we observed in the passage we just read: 24 times
“repair/repaired/repairs” is mentioned; “rebuild/rebuilt” is mentioned 20 times.
What was the benefit of a wall around a city? Security and an orderly society were
dependent upon city walls. Stable economy, worship of God, protection against vigilantees,
and stable economy with commerce, education, health care, community welfare, and stable
family life could only exist in Jerusalem if the walls were secure.
One more note: We also read that someone worked “across from his own house,” or “across
from where he lived.” But you also notice that people from other towns are repeatedly
mentioned (Tekoah, Mizpah, Gibeon, Ophel, surrounding regions, etc…).
shows the spiritual importance of laboring together as God’s people, the
rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and society was a massive human undertaking. 45 sections of
construction are mentioned, including ten gates. Planning, organizing the labor, arranging
the infrastructure and supply lines were critical activities. Also, in
efforts benefited from outside help and favor from King Artaxerxes, as unexpected and
Providential as that may have been.
App: What this should tell us is that rebuilding the walls of society is a collective effort. It is
important that we work, “across from our home,” and by laboring with others to rebuild
their communities, for the glory of God and the good of their people.
2 weeks ago, Joseph Elotu, the Country Director for Children’s Hope Chest Uganda, spoke
about BCI’s ministry in Okocho, Uganda. Today, 63 of 76 profiled children are currently
sponsored (http://okocho.hopechest.org/) by you and your families, providing a regular daily
meal, school fees, discipleship and oversight of their physical health and family life. Thank
you to all who are sponsors of 63 of these young people!
We still need sponsors for 13 of these children. Sponsorship of 13 children—and another un-
profiled 75—is a critical part of rebuilding the walls of the Okocho. It is BCI’s privilege to
show and tell
the love of Jesus in a devastated Ugandan society.
is not enough for
their today, and
is not enough for their eternity.
In the months and years ahead, we hope (1) to see our partnership with Okocho Care Point
grow in child sponsorships; and (2) to see our partnership with Okocho community grow, as
we purchase property, construct a ministry facility, dig a water well, plant crops, and
implement vocational training programs so that this generation of Okocho young people
learn how to survive, thrive and succeed. This is a
show and tell
partnership which involves
a family-to-child relationship and a church-to-community relationship. As a BCI family, we
have covenanted to partner across from someone else’s home, by both proclamation and
demonstration of the gospel, and its power.
Surely and truly, Jesus followers, are responsible to
of the love of Jesus at home and
abroad—whether in Uganda, Cambodia, Philippines or elsewhere. Christ’s Great
Commission makes this clear. And Paul asks in
“How then will they call on
him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of
whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Whether clergy or layperson, executive or laborer, male or female, young or old, as followers
of Christ, we all are responsibile to
the love of Jesus to the nations. Whether you do this
using the bridge presentation, your testimony, a tract, an app, an evangecube, or however.
People cannot respond to a gospel message and invitation they never hear. You and I are the
messengers, the preachers of that message.
Ill: But proclamation and demonstration are two wings of the same airplane. If you are sitting
in the exit row on a plane preparing to take off for the Philippines, or Nigeria, or Tanzania,
India or wherever, and you look out the window at the wing of that plane, have you even
once thought, “This wing is more important than the wing on the other side of the plane?!”
showing and telling—or demonstration and proclamation—
are equally important.
The gospel message is incomplete without both.
Jesus reminds us in
“whoever gives one of these little ones even
a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his
Further, notice what Jesus teaches in
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do
to inherit eternal life?’
He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read
And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’
And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’
he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Jesus tells the
Parable of the Good Samaritan, and asks the lawyer)… “‘Which of these 3 do you think
proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’
He said, ‘The one who
showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.’”
According to this passage, “to inherit eternal life” does not just mean that you (1) love God,
(2) say a salvation prayer, or even that you (3) tell others about Jesus. This teaching of Jesus
clearly instructs us that, to “inherit eternal life” means we should be actively
engaged in practically
as well as
the love of Jesus to others.
“Pure religion before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”
Conclusion: We are tasked with seeing that God’s “kingdom come and will be done, on earth
as it is in heaven.” We are building up a holy city by doing the work of the church. By living
as types of Christ in our generation, we proclaim and demonstrate the love of Christ and
build up walls of holiness and protection from the sin and death that plagues those outside of
the city of God. By showing and telling, we are bringing people into the citizenship of that
spiritual city, the family of God, the church.
September 23, 2018 Rev. Steve Allen