Thursday, October 25, 2012
rise up and build
Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision." And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, "Let us rise up and build." So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
The first task that Nehemiah had in front of him was one of inspection and motivation. He had to experience first hand the condition of the ruined wall of Jerusalem in order to grasp the scope of the work ahead of him. A night time ride covering the circuit of the city gave him the necessary clarity on the amount of work it would take to clear the rubble and rebuild the wall. He then must work on the task of recruiting the manpower for the hard work ahead from the inhabitants of this broken town.
Nehemiah motivated the residents of Jerusalem with a simple speech. He realistically described the current situation, knowing full well they knew the problems. They were in trouble. The city was still in ruins. They were derided by surrounding nations. The solution was to rebuild. And then he explained two reasons why "now" was the time: 1) God had sovereignly moved and 2) the Persian court was behind the effort to rebuild Jerusalem.
The effect was that the citizens of Jerusalem were encouraged to apply themselves to the good, hard work of rebuilding the city walls. God's sovereign move in the heart of Nehemiah, confirmed in the good will and provision of the Persian king, led the people to rise up and build. God works within human systems to do His work. He can work beyond them, but in the case of Nehemiah we get to see just how God is sovereign within human government. Personally, I find it powerfully encouraging!