Today: [Nehemiah Seven] The Wall of Jerusalem is Completed. In this chapter the walls of the city are completed. The temple is restored and opened for the people. The Levites are set in order and much authority and blessing comes to those who endured and maintained and were willing to sacrificially participate in what God was doing. This chapter is a lesson in constancy under pressure that will produce blessing and benefit in our lives as we purpose to connect with what God is doing in our midst.
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[Neh 7:1-73 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed, 2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he [was] a faithful man, and feared God above many. 3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar [them]: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one [to be] over against his house. 4 Now the city [was] large and great: but the people [were] few therein, and the houses [were] not builded. 5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,
In this chapter Nehemiah at last makes an end to building the wall around Jerusalem. He finalizes the appointment of Levites, porters and singers to serve as well in the temple and turns his attention to the condition of the city within the boundaries that he has established within the gates. When Nehemiah set up the walls again he didn’t not use borders configured to contain the existing population. He set the borders to the original boundaries in Solomon’s time. Because of this he took in much unoccupied and ruined sections of the older city boundaries. Furthermore he plans to take a census of the population to see what families are left from the 2 groups of returnees under Zerubbabel and Ezra respectively. He will find out of approximately 55,000 returnees that only 45,000 are left after 70 years. Some may have returned to Babylon, others probably died under the rigors of life and the hardships associated with resettling the 800 sq. mile province of Judea.
To help with the census Nehemiah fortuitously finds the original list of names that came in with Zerubbabel which is repeated here in the remainder of the chapter.
6 These [are] the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city; 7 Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, [I say], of the men of the people of Israel [was this]; 8 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two. 9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. 10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two. 11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand and eight hundred [and] eighteen. 12 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. 13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five. 14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. 15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight. 16 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight. 17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two. 18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred threescore and seven. 19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand threescore and seven. 20 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five. 21 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight. 22 The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight. 23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four. 24 The children of Hariph, an hundred and twelve. 25 The children of Gibeon, ninety and five. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, an hundred fourscore and eight. 27 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight. 28 The men of Bethazmaveth, forty and two. 29 The men of Kirjathjearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty and three. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one. 31 The men of Michmas, an hundred and twenty and two. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, an hundred twenty and three. 33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two. 34 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. 35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty. 36 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five. 37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and one. 38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty. 39 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three. 40 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. 41 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. 42 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen. 43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, [and] of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four. 44 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight. 45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, an hundred thirty and eight. 46 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon, 48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai, 49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, 50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, 51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah, 52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim, 53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah, 56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha. 57 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida, 58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon. 60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, [were] three hundred ninety and two. 61 And these [were] they which went up [also] from Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father’s house, nor their seed, whether they [were] of Israel. 62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two. 63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took [one] of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. 64 These sought their register [among] those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. 65 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood [up] a priest with Urim and Thummim. 66 The whole congregation together [was] forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, 67 Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom [there were] seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women. 68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five: 69 [Their] camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses. 70 And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basons, five hundred and thirty priests’ garments. 71 And [some] of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pound of silver. 72 And [that] which the rest of the people gave [was] twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and threescore and seven priests’ garments. 73 So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and [some] of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel [were] in their cities.
Now in reading this long and almost featureless list there are a few things of note to point out. When king David originally set up the courses or groups of Levites to serve in the temple he designated 24 altogether. Each course was assigned by individual Levitical bloodlines and the responsibilities were passed down from generation to generation. In the two groups of returnees under Zerubabbel and Ezra respectively only 4 of the 24 original courses (or service groups) returned to Judea to participate in the restoration of the temple. The remaining 20 bloodlines had either ceased to exist or chose to remain in Babylon. Nehemiah will take these 4 courses that have returned and divide all of the original 24 courses set up by David among them. This echoes the words of Jesus:
Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
In this case the Lord used Nehemiah to take the destined appointment of 20 courses / bloodline responsibilities who HAD NOT returned to Judea and gave it to those that HAD shown themselves willing to participate in what God was doing in the restoration of the city and the temple. When God is doing those who choose to participate will receive the reward of heaven. There may be many who are called that decide to stay in dead religion and their blessing will be passed on to others who made the sacrifices to follow the purposes of God.
This should help us understand that looking where the masses are gathering in the things of God does not necessarily tell you what God is doing. In this case only 4 family groups out of 24 were willing to be a part of the purpose of God in restoring the temple. If you were making a decision as to what your action would be would you follow the big crowds or have the discernment to know that where most people weren’t interested in returning to the work of God it didn’t mean that wasn’t what God wanted you to do.
In your town there may be a surge of revival or a large group or church that gathers many followers and generates much excitement. That is a wonderful thing but it doesn’t mean that is where you are supposed to be or where God is focusing His attention. The scripture doesn’t say “despise not the big thing…” but it does say “despise not the day of small beginnings…” (Zech. 4:10). Exercise discernment. Ephraim was the largest tribe in Israel yet time and again in their history they were not interested in what God was doing in the nation. God often chose the smallest and most despised tribe to do what He was going to do and bring great victory.
In this chapter we also see Nehemiah handing the administration of the city over to two brothers whose names mean “grace and favor”. When you embrace the grace and favor of God you may not be allowed to push your way into leadership but God will promote you. Nehemiah is required according to his own word to return to the king of Persia and give an account of what he has done in his expedition to Judea. He appoints men with godly character that he knows will not give themselves over to misconduct in his absence.
Nehemiah takes special care to tell Hanani not to open the gates of the city at the usual early morning hour but to wait till the heat of the day. This no doubt was very inconvenient but necessary to make sure that the population was up and about it’s business and in readiness in case of an attack from Sanballat or Tobias. This also speaks to us about openness toward those around us. There is a natural flow of interaction with people in our lives but we should use great discernment and wisdom before opening the boundaries of our lives to let people in to our intimate counsels. We should learn to wait as Nehemiah instructs. You can love people without giving them access or opportunity to impede or divert attention away from what God is doing. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit in these matters.
In conclusion it is interesting now to note that the famine that struck during the building of the walls is apparently over and prosperity has returned. The nobility has been reproved for their harsh treatment of the people and we see wealth flowing in the many pounds of silver and gold and other valuable resources given for the work of God in the city. Psa. 110:3 says “God’s people will be willing in the day of My power…” When we maintain our borders and boundaries and are willing to participate in what God is doing then the transfer of the wealth takes place. It wasn’t easy for this restoration to take place. Several generations participated and over 10,000 turned back or died in the process. But the city and the temple are restored. This is the lesson for us. Taking the path of least resistance isn’t always the best choice. There is reward for having a sacrificial attitude toward the things of God. You have a destiny and a place to participate in what God is doing and as you find it and give yourself to it change and blessing will come.
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