Today: [Nehemiah Eleven] Are You Willing to be Inconvenienced for the Kingdom? In this chapter Nehemiah is dealing with the problem of lack of population in the restored city of Jerusalem. A lottery (gasp!) is conducted and 1 in 10 Judeans from the countryside were compelled to uproot their lives and move into the derelict city in hopes of rebuilding abandoned home sites. This chapter serves as an example to us as believers regarding being willing to sacrifice our own comforts and priorities for kingdom purpose.
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[Neh 11:1-36 KJV] 1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts [to dwell] in [other] cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. 3 Now these [are] the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, [to wit], Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants. 4 And at Jerusalem dwelt [certain] of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez; 5 And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni. 6 All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem [were] four hundred threescore and eight valiant men. 7 And these [are] the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah. 8 And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight. 9 And Joel the son of Zichri [was] their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah [was] second over the city. 10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin. 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, [was] the ruler of the house of God.
When Nehemiah restored the walls of the city – the territory covered far more land than the current population could make use of. In this chapter Nehemiah is still coping with restoring the derelict properties in the city. There simply weren’t enough people willing to live in the city. We can compare this to New Orleans after Katrina or to Detroit, Michigan after the economic collapse of recent years when the city significantly reduced in population. In order to bring more residents into Jerusalem there is a lot drawn with the purpose of bringing 1 in 10 people in Judea into the city for the purpose of rebuilding neglected home sites and see the city once again to hopefully become a vibrant community once again.
It is noteworthy that the leaders of the people were exempted from the lottery because they were already required to live in Jerusalem. This is a good thing because they were not asking the people to do something they themselves were not already committed to. It was during this time that the prophet Zecheriah stood up and declared these words:
[Zec 4:10 KJV] 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel [with] those seven; they [are] the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
Jerusalem is a type of the church. The writer of Hebrews penned these words:
[Heb 12:22-23 KJV] 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
When you read about Jerusalem you can apply it to yourself and to the church of the living God of which all redeemed people are a part. Whether we belong to a local church or not all beleivers comprise the church universal which is the heavenly Jerusalem the mother of us all.
When this lottery was drawn it made a demand on the people chosen. 1 in 10 being compelled to come represents the remnant understanding of God’s people in the midst of the population. It is interesting to note that 8.5 % of the world’s population are born again people by their profession – roughly equivalent to those chosen in Nehemiah’s lottery.
The sacrifices this 10th of the population made speak to us of what is involved in being a part of the house of God.
1. They had to give up property and lands outside Jerusalem and accept their portion in the city.
2. They had to give up their social circle and make a new start in the city among other newcomers.
3. They had to be willing to move in and deal with the difficulties associated with the city being a veritable ghost town for 70 years.
4. They had to accept that in moving into the city there was a target on their backs by the enemy because they chose to identify with the city of David as their home.
12 And their brethren that did the work of the house [were] eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah, 13 And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight: and their overseer [was] Zabdiel, the son of [one of] the great men. 15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, [had] the oversight of the outward business of the house of God. 17 And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, [was] the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city [were] two hundred fourscore and four. 19 Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, [were] an hundred seventy and two. 20 And the residue of Israel, of the priests, [and] the Levites, [were] in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance. 21 But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa [were] over the Nethinims. 22 The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem [was] Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers [were] over the business of the house of God. 23 For [it was] the king’s commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day. 24 And 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.
Among the roster of families who were compelled by lot to come to Jerusalem were the heads of tribes and princes outside the city. The small and the great from the population outside Jerusalem were required equally to come and submit to the choosing that was done no doubt by the casting of the Urim and Thummin (or some equivalent thereof).
This is interesting because many people of affluent station in life exempt themselves from the community of Christ. They feel that church might be good for the unwashed masses but that it is beneath them to associate with the lower classes. Class distinction and even snobbery in Christian culture is very widespread and damages the testimony of many who vainly attempt to show the church as a welcoming place for all to come. In Nehemiah’s Jerusalem the privileged classes were not allowed to maintain an effete posture toward their fellow Judeans who were not as fortunate or powerful as they were.
25 And for the villages, with their fields, [some] of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and [in] the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and [in] the villages thereof, and at Jekabzeel, and [in] the villages thereof, 26 And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet, 27 And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and [in] the villages thereof, 28 And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof, 29 And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and [in] their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and [in] the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom. 31 The children also of Benjamin from Geba [dwelt] at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and [in] their villages, 32 [And] at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35 Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen. 36 And of the Levites [were] divisions [in] Judah, [and] in Benjamin.
The willingness of the people to submit to the uprooting of their lives as recorded in this chapter arose from a nationalistic spirit and a passionate connection to the ancient glory of the city of Jerusalem. There was danger involved in moving and living in Jerusalem but the entire population saw it as necessary to defer their choices for the greater good of the purposes of God. Jesus said in the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 9:23 KJV] 23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
The question we must ask ourselves is are we willing to be inconvenienced for the kingdom of God? Are you willing to uproot your life and reorder your priorities in order to fulfill the revealed will of God in the earth as it touches your life personally? We cannot underestimate the piety and love for God that is beginning to emergy in the restored population of Judea. They serve as a wonderful and compelling example for us regarding what it might cost to “seek first the kingdom”.
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