November 13 I Friday
I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.”
We love a vision of what the future could be, but the reality is a lot of hard work goes into fulfilling it, even when the vision is one that God lays on our hearts. When Nehemiah heard the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he was greatly saddened. Yet, God’s gracious hand had been upon Nehemiah as King Artaxerxes not only permitted him to go rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, but also gave him the resources to complete the task.
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he gathered the Israelites and shared how God had granted him favour. The Israelites collectively agreed to rebuild the walls and began to set themselves to work. One of the first things we will notice when we read through all of Nehemiah 3 is the strategy behind the vision. Nehemiah made a list of sections of the wall and assigned 40 different sections to 40 different groups of people. He broke down the large vision from God into manageable goals and plans for each person. In fact, when we study the names of the individuals, we find that Nehemiah would have people who were rulers of a half-district of Jerusalem, and business owners or merchants repair parts of the wall that were just outside their business. For certain people who lived near the wall, Nehemiah assigned them to rebuild it. This was a deliberate move for the businesses and homeowners in Jerusalem, because these people would have a vested interest to ensure their own portion of the wall was built well, as they would not want their business or home breached.
What we learn from Nehemiah 3 is that carrying God’s vision-—ministry—is hard work. Even with Nehemiah’s thought out plan, the Israelites had to be willing to roll up their sleeves, step into a pile of rubble and start rebuilding. During that time, the surrounding nations came threatening to put an end to the work, but the Israelites remained steadfast. Although we see that ministry requires long days, dirty work and heavy lifting, God’s gracious hand was upon Nehemiah’s leading.
If we are honest, the reason why we know ministry is hard, messy and difficult is that we know ourselves well. It is true that Jesus saved us by His finished work on the cross and we stand before God justified because of what He has done. The Christian life, however, is a series of works by the Holy Spirit sanctifying us. It oftentimes involves removing the rubble and the broken and burnt-down places, reaching down to our foundation in Jesus Himself and allowing the Holy Spirit to rebuild our lives.
Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, even when ministry is hard, messy and difficult, I know You are the foundation holding all things together. Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to rebuild my life.