Nehemiah 3:1 (In response to Nehemiah’s leadership and determination to organize a rebuilding of the city wall of Jerusalem) the high priest Eliashib set to work with his fellow priests and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set up its doors; they consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 And the men of Jericho built next to him. And next to them Zaccur son of Imri built…
Nehemiah was sent by God to Jerusalem to organize the rebuilding of the city wall. The city had been laid to ruins many years prior by the Babylonians. The entirety of Nehemiah chapter 3 (only verses 1-2 of the total 32 verses are copied above) describes all of the various work groups/clans/persons/families who participated in the rebuildling of the wall. Two things jump out at me this morning:
1. Rebuilding the entire city wall was a huge task. However, because so many different persons and people groups pitched in, they were collectively able to accomplish the job.
2. Though the people who actually built the wall are listed in this chapter of Nehemiah – it was God who rebuilt the wall. God was the one who sent Nehemiah and the many other people in the first place. It was God’s work, but their hands.
Yesterday I was contacted by a clergy colleague I know from my former call serving the national church. She just arrived in Texas to serve a congregation a couple of hours south of where I live. Like many churches, the one she serves has been struggling for many years. The major employer of the region closed its doors a few years ago, to devestating effect upon the population. Lots of people had to leave to find work. Those remaining are left reeling, wondering what to do next. The task seems impossible.
As often happens when a church calls a new pastor, there is an implicit expectation from the church members that the new pastor is going to turn things around. Like, single-handedly. As we talked yesterday afternoon we recognized how impossible this expectation is. Yet, we affirmed how our God is capable of activating entire communities to accomplish great things for the Kingdom. Today’s passage is an excellent example of that.
In the end, though people are often the visible “face” of the Kingdom of God, it is our God who is the actor/initiator that makes great things possible.
Dear Lord, the truth is that some people reading this blog post are facing monumental challenges right now. When we mortals face great obstacles, we often only see what CANNOT be done. It appears too much for us – and so it is. However, there is NOTHING you cannot do. Give us grace, like Nehemiah and his contemporaries, to join together and accomplish what appears to be impossible – to your glory. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.