Nehemiah chapter three is one of those chapters that we are prone to skip over because of all of the names. I pray that you don't do this in your reading. As we read and apply the text to our lives today (Rom. 15:4), whether or not we pronounce the names correctly isn't the point. The point is to understand what was happening and how this affected the nation of Judah.
First, we see that when Nehemiah encouraged the people to “build up the wall of Jerusalem,” the people responded by saying, “let us rise up and build” (Neh. 2:17-18)! Nehemiah three records that these people were more than just “talk”! They went into action! They didn’t allow days and months to go by before they started. They started repairing the walls immediately!
A second thing we see is that these people did the work in pieces that could be handled by each respective family. One family didn’t rebuild one-half of the wall or take on more than they could handle. Each family took a section that they could handle and began the work! There was much to do, and as the old saying goes, “Many hands make for light work.” This was the case here. All the people united in a common goal and made the work much easier to handle.
Nehemiah 3:12 mentions the fact that Shallum’s daughters worked with their father to help rebuild the walls. I think this is significant. These daughters deserve special praise for the work they did in helping to finish a job that God wanted them to do.
I hope that these statements will stir our minds to make applications to ourselves. No, we don’t have a wall to rebuild, but we do have work to do in God’s kingdom (I Cor. 15:58). We have daily work that needs to be done, and we need to make the effort! It’s one thing to “talk” about what needs to be done in the Lord’s kingdom, and it’s quite another thing to do it (Jas. 2:18-26)! Examine yourself, friend. Are you active in the Lord’s service, or are you just good at pointing out what needs to be done? Don’t be like the Pharisees (Matt. 23:3-4)!
Similarly, let’s remember that we all have work to do in the Lord’s kingdom (Gal. 6:9). It’s not laid at the feet of the preacher or elders or deacons alone. Yes, these men have work to be done in God’s kingdom just as everyone else does! We mustn’t shirk our duties, though, thinking someone else will do them. Our lack of action may be the point of weakness that Satan needs to tear down and destroy a life, or a family, or a church! Don’t be the weak link!
Just as Shallum’s daughters went out and worked as the sons did, let’s remember that in Christ, we are all one (Gal. 3:28). Yes, we have different roles to fulfill at times, but everyone who is a child of God is loved and respected by God and needs to be busy in His work! Far from being misogynistic, Paul speaks highly of his sisters in Christ. Let’s encourage our sisters and our brothers in the Lord to do the work God demands.
You won’t get out of this world alive, but you can leave this world ready for the next. Are you ready (II Cor. 6:2)? What do you need to do to get ready (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)? Do as the Jews in Nehemiah’s day did (Neh. 3). Stop wasting time and get busy with the Lord’s work!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Four times in the book of Esther, Haman was called the Jews’ enemy (3:10, 8:1, 9:10, 24). This description was given to Haman for one simple reason; he planned on killing all of the Jews. His motivation? Anger! Haman was angry at Mordecai, and he allowed his anger to boil over until it reached a point that he didn’t want any Jewish person to live (3:5-6).
Anger is the catalyst for much evil today. It is for this reason that we are warned not to allow anger to lead us into sin (Eph. 4:26-27). Elders in the Lord’s church are told not to be “soon angry” since it is evident that anger will not produce any good (Titus 1:7). Man’s anger doesn’t work God’s righteousness (Jas. 1:20)!
Men allow anger to cause them to justify sinful actions, but we need to remember that anger puts us on a “slippery slope” to worse sins (Col. 3:5). Anger was Haman’s motivation to kill not just one man, but an entire race of people! Today, men allow anger to fester until they lash out against others verbally and physically. Anger has been man’s justification for murder today, just as it was Haman’s!
The book of Esther shows us the consequences of unrestrained anger. By contrast, God is slow to anger (Ps. 145:8). Let us be slow to anger as well (Prov. 16:32; Jas. 1:19).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Please read Esther 2:11, 19, and 10:1-3. In these passages, we read of Mordecai’s love and oversight for those who were in his charge, first for his cousin, Esther, and later when he had oversight of his nation.
While Esther prepared to meet the king, Mordecai stayed as close as possible so he could see to her welfare and do what he could to help her. Years later, when awarded a place of power, we see him still looking out for the best interests, not of one person, but an entire nation. The Jews were not going to suffer at the hands of a tyrant again if he could help it!
Observing Mordecai’s growth in Esther two and ten reminds me of what Jesus taught in the parable of the talents. To the five and two talent men, the master told them, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matt. 25:21, 23). It was because these men proved themselves wise with less that they were eventually given more responsibility. We can see a similar truth with Mordecai. He started with caring for one person, but he ultimately rose to a position of seeking the well-being of his nation.
It is the same in the church. For example, men desiring to be elders must first show they can rule their own houses well, and raise faithful children before they can have the responsibility of overseeing a congregation (I Tim. 3:4-5; Titus 1:6). Though not identical, deacons have similar expectations (I Tim. 3:12).
We must start “small” and grow in the Lord. Are you growing (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14)? What goals do you have for spiritual growth in 2020?
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Acts 20:28
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” These words are spoken to the Ephesian elders when Paul met them at Miletus (Acts 20:17-18). He reminded them of many truths he had taught them during his three years with them and encouraged them to continue to be faithful to God. As we put a “spotlight” on Acts 20:28, this verse reminds elders to watch for themselves as well as for everyone else in the congregation. Elders are men and can fall. This will be noted in the following verses (v. 29-31). Therefore, let elders take heed first of all to self and then to everyone else. This reminds me of the teaching of Matthew 7:1-5. Elders are to be overseers (“a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent,” Thayer’s) and must feed (“nourish, cherish, serve,” ibid.) the flock of God. Too many churches have elders that are mere “check-writers” and “door-lockers.” Elders need to make sure they are guarding and serving the church because Christians have been purchased with the precious blood of Christ (Matt. 26:28; I Pet. 1:18-19)! This makes them special, loved, and saved. Elders are Christians and are recipients of the same blessings. Thus, they have a “vested interest” in making sure the congregation is pure, for in doing this, they are also saving themselves! – Jarrod Jacobs