Nehemiah Project: Constructing the Walls

Building the Walls of a Holy Society

Nehemiah 3

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

show

them something new or

unusual. But would they have fully understood why you brought it, if you didn’t also

tell

them. Or if you just

told

them about something important to you, would it have had the

same effect, if you didn’t also

show

them? We are going to make spiritual application of this

principle today from

Nehemiah 3.

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.

Chapter 4

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.

  • Text:

    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.

    2

    People from the town of Jericho worked

    next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri.

    3

    The Fish Gate was built by the sons

    of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and

    bars.

    4

    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.

    5

    Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with

    the construction supervisors.

    6

    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

    bars.

    7

    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

    Euphrates River.

    8

    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.

    9

    Rephaiah son of Hur, the leader of half the

    district of Jerusalem, was next to them on the wall.

    10

    Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired

    the wall across from his own house, and next to him was Hattush son of Hashabneiah.

    11

    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.

    12

    Shallum son of Hallohesh and his

    daughters repaired the next section. He was the leader of the other half of the district of

    Jerusalem.

    13

    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

    Dung Gate.

    14

    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.

    15

    The

    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.

    16

    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.

    17

    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.

    18

    Next down the line were his countrymen

    led by Binnui

    son of Henadad, the leader of the other half of the district of Keilah.

    19

    Next to

    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.

    20

    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.

    21

    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.

    22

    The next repairs were made by the priests from the surrounding region.

  • 23

    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

    house.

    24

    Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from

    Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner.

    25

    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,

    26

    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.

    27

    Then came the people of Tekoa, who repaired

    another section across from the great projecting tower and over to the wall of Ophel.

    28

    Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section

    immediately across from his own house.

    29

    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.

    30

    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.

    31

    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.

    32

    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

    showing

    and

    telling

    the love of

    Jesus.

    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

    Jerusalem.

    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

    proclamation.

    Showing

    others the difference that the love of God makes and

    telling

    them

    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…).

    While

    Nehemiah 3

    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

    Nehemiah 1

    and

    2,

    these

    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.

    Telling

    is not enough for

    their today, and

    showing

    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

    tell

    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

    Romans 10:14

    ,

    “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

    tell

    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?!”

    Even so,

    showing and telling—or demonstration and proclamation—

    are equally important.

    The gospel message is incomplete without both.

    Jesus reminds us in

    Matthew 10:42

    that,

    “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

    reward.”

    Further, notice what Jesus teaches in

    John 10

    :

  • And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do

    to inherit eternal life?’

    26

    He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read

    it?’

    27

    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.’

    29

    But

    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?’

    37

    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

    from

    John 10

    clearly instructs us that, to “inherit eternal life” means we should be actively

    engaged in practically

    showing

    as well as

    telling

    the love of Jesus to others.

    James 1

    teaches

    that

    “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


Steve Allen