Hey, we are halfway done with reading through Nehemiah. I hope you are learning as much as I am! It is amazing to me that every time I revisit a familiar passage, God shows me something else that is applicable to my life. But then, God is cool like that! :)
At first glance, this is another chapter that has long lists of names. You may be shocked to hear this, but I tend to skim over these chapters. I am not the most patient person in the world, and I have a hard time wanting to read through a bunch of names, but by skimming this chapter, I am missing some key insights that are scattered throughout these verses.
The very first thing I see in verse one is that a wall was not enough. There needed to be gates in place to keep those inside safe and not allow those in that were not safe.
I think the mention of the gates throughout Nehemiah is rather interesting. While a wall was the sign of a city's strength, the wall would have become a bad thing if there was no way to get in and out of the city. In our lives, I think it is Biblical to have boundaries in our lives. We see Jesus had them - He would often go off on His own to get renewed. He never let anyone guilt Him into performing miracles just for the sake of miracles.
But at the same time, Jesus was the ultimate example of healthy relationships. He was open and warm. We see several verses about how children loved Him and came to Him, unafraid.
It seems, as Christians, we tend to be one way or the other - either our walls are so high that nobody can get close OR we are so open that we leave ourselves vulnerable to the enemy's attacks. The answer seems to be well-built and well-guarded gates.
Nehemiah's next move was to put two men in charge of Jeruselum: Hanani and Hananiah (I bet that was confusing! lol) Now the first man was Nehemiah's brother, but his appointment was not an early case of nepotism. It says in verse 2 that the men were "faithful and fear God more than many."
It's so important that the people that are placed in positions of authority are God-fearing men and women. It always comes as a sort of shock to me when I discover a "spiritual leader" isn't all that spiritual or even very interested in what God wants. Nehemiah had the wisdom to know that success depended on godly men being in charge.
In verse 3, we see that Nehemiah was very specific about the gates again. They were to be only opened at certain times and carefully guarded. Not only that, but each guard was to stand alert in front of his own house.
As we get down to verse 5, Nehemiah once again shows himself to be sensitive to God's leading. It says, "Then my God put it on my heart to assmeble the nobles, the officials nad the people to be enrolled by genealogies."
He explains in verse 6,7 where and how people had gotten to Jeruselum. Then from verses 8 through 60 we get the infamous listing of names.
In verse 61, it lists a few folks who did not have any proof of who they were. Even though they claimed to be Levites, because they couldn't prove their genealogy, they were not allowed to serve in the priesthood.
If I wanted to stretch an analogy, I could say this is a sort of picture of the fact that we need to make sure we have solid proof that we are indeed children of God. Without God as our Father, we are excluded from the priesthood too.
Finally, in verse 70 through 73, it gives a list of people who gave to the work of God and what they gave.
The chapter ends with, "And when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were in their cities." It has a satisfying feeling of "all is right in the world."
What I got most out of this chapter is the need to have boundaries without keeping everyone at arm's length. Ministry and loving others can be painful sometimes. While we need boundaries and we need to be wise about who we let into the gates, I don't believe God ever intended for anyone to just build a wall and not allow anyone inside.
~ Blessings, Bronte