One of my favorite movies of all time is Bravehardt. Its an old movie but it is a classic. I dont just like it because guys put on face paint and go out to battle the bad guys, or that all those great battle scenes are filmed in super slow mo, though that is part. I like the movie because it does such a great job setting up the evil actions of the king of England with some down and out common people who are trying to stand up for justice.
One of the best parts of the movie is when the people gather to fight the king and william wallace shows ut to give an incredible speech.
“And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are... Fight and you may die. Run and you will live… at least for a while. And dying on your beds many years from now would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies they may take our lives but they may never take our freedom…”
It is a rousing seen because of the injustices occurring, the sense of significance for the cause, and the heroic response of the people to do something about the problem. The commoners run out and rout the English.
Many of those same rousing traits are also seen right here in Nehemiah. Nehemiah has called the people to go rebuild Jerusalem. We have seen him make necessary preparation to get ready for that task. He has called others. And now we see the response of the people. They are to go and sacrifice their own safety, comfort and wellbeing in order to build God’s city. The people rise up for an enduring cause.
Living honorably means rising up to God’s call on our lives.
We are going to read a portion of chapter 3. There is a lot of repetition in this passage and the first 12 verses will help you understand the whole chapter.
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. 3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. 5 And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. 6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.
Living honorably means rising up to God’s call on our lives. The people here take a stand. They move to action. They serve God and they are blessed for it. Three points for us to consider for furthering God’s purposes.
- Rise Up
Throughout this chapter and even the preceding one you see that the people “rose up” to build (3:1 also his call in 2:18, ). They are rising up to serve the Lord, to go back and rebuild walls that have been destroyed. If they do not rise up then those ruins will sit and rot. They see the vulnerability of the city, their city is in shame, and they rise up to change things.
They move to action. Such action is at the heart of the Christian faith. We are saved not by our actions but by our faith, and yet a true faith springs into action. It rises up. If you put a little kid in a toy store he is going to play. It’s just going to come out. Same thing about true faith.
Rising up is leadership, rising when no one else does. Prophetic action. Faithfilled action. If you are going to fix a wall that is fallen you need to rise up when everyone else is sitting. If you are going to move a rock or a person it takes going above the thing that holds it in place. Nothing happens without action. Everything in life happens because someone takes initiative. Unless someone takes initiation to buy groceries you have nothing to eat in your house. If the people do not rise up here, nothing happens. This heap of rubble will sit forever unless someone rebuilds it.
If you have a burden for the things of God you have to rise above the indifference of others. You have to be willing to ask someone, talk to them. If you want to build a church you rise up when no one else is. We have to elevate our commitment, our fervor.
Our church is here because different people have risen up to stand by it.
Serving God means rising up to honor Christ. An angel said to Phillip to rise up and south to the road (acts 8:26), Peter rose up among the disciples to lead them (Acts 1:15), God called Ananias to rise up and go share the gospel with a famed persecutor of Christians named Saul, Peter rose up to pray for a dead widow and she came to life (Acts 9:41), and all of this follows God who raised up both Jesus and Moses to deliver his people.
NT work of the people. Spiritual community building up people in spiritual ways. Building up one another.
You need to rise up in other parts of life. Some guys think they are the great warrior who will ride out to battle but they are not willing to rise up when things get hard at home. They shrink and run away. Run toward those problems.
Advancing the kingdom of God.
If your following Christ he is going to call you to rise up in situations you don’t like to do the things you know you should do. Are you going to respond? The more you ignore the needs of others, the more comfortable you get in not doing. Don’t shrink back! If you are going to make a difference it will take rise up, and probably standing out among others. If we are going to move this church forward it is going to take people rising up.
- The People Rise Up Together
Kids complete this sentence: Batman works… does anyone ever have a good idea. He needs … Batman learns a lesson that you can live alone. You need others. Bat Girl, Robbin.
Very few people are able to save the world alone. Very few people are ever able to accomplish something of significance alone. That is the way God designed it. And if we are going to further his kingdom, we are going to have to partner with others.
Look at the different people working here.
- First mention is the high priests and other priests. The high priest was one of the most important figures here. The people do not have a king, and despite the city being destroyed there is a priesthood in place. His participation shows the significance of the work you are doing.
- Next you see the “Sons of Hassenaah built the fish gate” (v3). Don’t know much about these men or even the gate that they built. They seem like ordinary people.
- Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah.
- Zadok, Joiada, Uziel, Hananiah.
- Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite. The inhabitants of Zanoah v12.
- V8 there are goldsmiths involved, perfumers (v8), temple servants, priests. there is a ruler of the half district (v9).
- A guy and his daughters v12
- One person repairs the wall opposite his house v28
Others are not mentioned but had to be included. No bakers but had to have food. Mostly men mentioned but clearly there is a wife or mother behind each. I ll take the kids you go work the wall. It is a community of people laboring together. It is heroic.
These are ordinary people, some of the upper class and some of the lower class, different professions and backgrounds, but they are all coming together to build a wall. It is their faith in God and commitment to his kingdom that unites them in this task and sacrifice.
What you see here is the the new testament teaching on the body of Christ in action. God gives different gifts to his church and each part is necessary for the mission of the church.
1 cor 12:12-26. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ... 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:12-25 ESV) If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1Co 12:26 ESV)
Neh 3 is a beautiful picture of the unity that can exist in different people. This is what the church can be like. Different people, different professions, different backgrounds, cities, etc. coming together to lift up Jesus.
The work we do is building up the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is us. We are trying to strengthen each others faith. We want to build one another up. Pray for one another. We have a spiritual work to do.
Ill: sometimes the importance of our work is indicated by what we are willing to overlook to do the work.
*You also have to notice in this passage that not all participated. Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section (v30). Doesn’t say anything about his five brothers doing anything.
The clearest instance of not all participating is v5, “but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.” Not all the people were excited about the rebuilding. Not all thought it a worthwhile cause.
- but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord. (Neh 3:5 KJV)
- but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. (Neh 3:5 ESV
- but their nobles did not support the work of their masters. (Neh 3:5 NAU
- their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors. (Neh 3:5 NLT)
Leaders are suppose to be the example. Be an example to the flock (1 Pet 5:3). It doesn’t always happen that way in life. Leaders are to be a picture of what God/bring about the scene that God wants to have. They are not perfect, but they are sincere. Leadership is prophetic.
“If you are worried about the people outside (the church) the most unreasonble thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which he works. Every addition to that body enables him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more.” CS Lewis. Business of Heaven, 312.
There is a sacrifice in serving Christ. It is never easy, never convenient. It will take away from your work, it will take away from your me time, or your family. All things you should desire to be faithful with. God has gifted you to serve his people. He created you for influence. He calls you to opportunities. He calls you to Christ.
Why are all these people doing this? Why aren’t they just focusing on their own jobs, their own houses, life is busy enough so don’t complicate it. They want to see God’s glory made known in the word. God reigns over all things, but all through history he has manifested his presence in the midst of his people who seek to honor and serve him. He does this in the church. He is made known through their sacrifices.
Build our community. Be a part of a community. You need things others can do and they need you.
Too many Christians are unconnected and unconcerned with the church. This is the one organization Christ gave himself for. It is the organization tasked with preaching the gospel It is what we come together to serve Christ. A body of people working toward a common task, a common goal.
- Names are Honored
It is blessed to be remembered for good. Everyone wants that. Few ever really attain it. We want to do something that lasts, something that matters, something that produces a good effect. Movies like Bravehardt rouse our interests because they show us how some do noble things and are remembered for it.
These people have their names remembered in Scripture. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Pro 22:1 ESV)
Don’t know much about them. Don’t know much about the wall they built. It didn’t last. To many their work was not impressive. When they get done some shout with joy and some cry because of how disappointing it is. They are remembered for their work to the Lord. How powerful is that! It is serving the Lord that is most important.
Their names listed in this book for their service reminds of names being listed in the book of life in Revelation. “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Rev 21:27 ESV)
Jesus knows those who gave a cold drink to another. They will not lose their reward. Kids, you don’t have make all A’s to be great. You don’t have to … sometimes great faith is being faithful with the little things in life. God knows what each person is doing. These people are serving him by putting bricks on a wall, and they are remembered for it. Memorialized for it.
None of the nobles have their names recorded in the book of Nehemiah and many will not have their names written in the book of life. Many people claim to know Christ but they will not stoop to serve him. They will not take time to care for a friend, they will not take time to serve their church, there is always a reason to not do something.
*They are honored and rewarded. And their reward is better than a temporary wall for their city. The brittle walls of old Jerusalem looks ahead to something much greater. A greater leader comes to restore God’s people, and leads them to a greater city and country.
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed-- 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:10-22 ESV)
Do you long for something that matters. Do you long for a world that doesn’t fall apart, rust, decay, crack, die, blue screens of death. Nehemiah wanted to bring people into this. Do the people around you long for that kind of security. Nehemiah’s temple was not the true temple nor his way the permanent way. That came through Christ. Jesus brings people into the true temple of God. He does it through his life, death, and resurrection. We enter by faith.
Do you ever need an anchor, security, safety, the confidence that what you are doing matters and is going somewhere?
Look to your reward. What would you give. You maybe 80 and tired or you may be 30 and tired. God calls you to live by faith and serve him. There are times to step back and catch your breath, maybe you need some healing. Are you tired or have you given up on God’s mission. Have you given up on his church.
William Wallace challenged people to think what it would be like at the end of their lives if they didn’t rise up to fight injustice and tyranny. I want to challenge you to think what it would be like for your to not rise up and serve your God. What might you give years from now, decades from now, centuries from now, to come back to this moment and submit your life to Christ, find your identity in him,
If you are not rising up to serve Christ you are not serving Christ. It is not possible to serve Christ and go unnoticed. You will encounter hard times, obstacles, resistance, but you are able to endure it because you know that when you honor him your reward is walking on the streets of God in paradise.
- What encourages you about the different types of people that rise up in this chapter? What would happen if they didn’t rise up? What ways is God calling you to rise up in serving him?
- At the end of your life what do you want to be remembered for? Is there anything better than having your name in the book of life?
- How does the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21 show a greater accomplishment than Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the old city? How comforting would this new city be for Nehemiah? How does that encourage you?