Nehemiah: Lessons in Building (Part 11)

Nehemiah 11 vs.1-19. These verses set forth a lottery for the inhabiting of Jerusalem and a honorable record of those who did so. A. It was noted (v.1) that "...the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem." 1. This was appropriate since God had ordained thrones of judgment to be set in Jerusalem. PSA 122:5. 2. The "holy city" on earth in the N.T. is the gospel church and it is likewise the place where the rulers of the people of God should dwell. a. N.T. rule is entrusted to the ministry. HEB 13:7. b. The pastorate is a local church office. 1CO 12:28. c. N.T. rulers (pastors/teachers) are church officers, not free agents. d. Evangelists operating independently of a true church may indeed be builders/masons, but not the kind which God blesses. MAT 23:15 c/w ACT 4:11-12. B. The indications are that there was an unwillingness on the part of most of the people to dwell in Jerusalem since they resorted to the lot and it is noted that "the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem" (v.2). 1. Perhaps this was because the building project at this stage seemed somewhat fragile and subject to failure----a poor facsimile of a great city. a. Oft is this the case with gospel church building: onlookers with little vision prefer to let others do the work, cheer them on, and then wait to see if anything comes of it before committing to it themselves. b. But the need to commit to what is right in God's eyes is not based upon corporate success. Rather, it is based upon individual repentance, faith and duty. ACT 2:38; 17:30 c/w ZEC 4:8-10. c. NOTE: If all gospel-ized folks embrace the "onlooker" concept of church-building, nothing would ever be built. 2. Perhaps the general unwillingness was owing to the fact that Jerusalem was the "holy city" (v.1), "...the mountain of his holiness" (PSA 48:1). a. The gospel church is built as a holy city of God. EPH 2:20-22; 1PE 2:5. b. Saints are to build up themselves on their "...most holy faith..." (JUDE 1:20). c. Matthew Henry offered this searching possiblility about the unwillingness of some to dwell in Jerusalem: "Because a greater strictness of conversation was expected from the inhabitants of Jerusalem than from others, which they were not willing to come up to. Those who care not for being holy themselves are shy of dwelling in a holy city; they would not dwell in the New Jerusalem itself for that reason, but would wish to have a continuing city here upon earth." d. The righteousness of true gospel duty and its implications keeps many Felixes and Agrippas on the outside. ACT 24:25; 26:27-28 c/w MAT 7:14. e. Ancillary to this explanation is the fact of those "rulers" being there in God's dwelling place and "...rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil..." (ROM 13:3). Resistance to godly authority and unwillingness to be scrutinized and held accountable keep many out of the holy city. 3. Perhaps the general unwillingness to dwell in Jerusalem was because of the mean condition of the city for trade or family concerns. a. Many come not to Christ for the same reasons. LUK 14:18-20. b. The terms of discipleship are painfully clear. LUK 14:33. 4. A great hindrance to successful gospel building is "...all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (PHIL 2:21). 5. Neither the meanness of circumstance, appearance or number, nor the implications of holy living are legitimate excuses to evade gospel obedience. a. Noble faith does as did Moses. HEB 11:24-28. b. "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (PSA 84:10). C. v.16. Some had "...oversight of the outward business of the house of God." 1. When the number of widows is such that the ministers of the word cannot reasonably do their spiritual work, deacons may serve such a purpose in the church. ACT 7:1-3. 2. In other circumstances, the gift of helps may be appropriately called upon. 1CO 12:28. 3. By such diverse and cooperative exercises comes edification. EPH 4:16. vs.20-36. Here is a record of the rest who dwelt in the environs outside of Jerusalem. A. Of historical interest is "But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel..." (v.21). 1. "Nethinim" = "Temple Servant." 2. NEH 3:26 associates the Nethinims with the water gate. 3. The Nethinims were likely the descendants of the condemned Gibeonites who conned Joshua and Israel into making a league with them and who were then made continual bondmen who would be "...hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (JOS 9:23). 4. Such as are outside of God's covenant "...have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God..." (EZR 4:3), yet may be of some outward use to the house of God. a. Of the gospel church in prophecy it was said that "...kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers..." (ISA 49:23). b. When John saw the serpent attempting to overwhelm, he saw also that "the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth" (REV 12:16). c. While not excusing their indifference to Biblical order, perhaps some parachurch ministries do serve a purpose. B. Notice is also here taken of "...Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people" (v.24). 1. Though ministers must be cautious to not be entangled "...with the affairs of this life..." (2TI 2:4), yet a church built by Christ may have members in places of civil influence. ROM 16:23; PHIL 4:22. 2. NOTE: Let those who because of circumstances cannot be where the builders assemble and work at least do their part from where they are, as Pethahiah. C. This chapter has set forth again a diverse but unified program. 1. Even though some were more forward than others, yet differences were settled sensibly and cordially. 2. Directly or indirectly, immediately or mediately, rulers and ruled, all had a role and cooperated in the moving forward of God's building program. c/w 1CO 12:14-31.
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