Nehemiah 7 - The Wall Guarded
A. Watchmen provided for the walls
1. (1-2) The appointment of Hanani and Hananiah
a. Everything was in order - both practically (the wall . . I hung the doors . . . the gatekeepers) and spiritually (the singers . . . the Levites); the work was completed and set right!
i. The singers and the Levites were there to lead the people in worship; the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at nice walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before!
ii. Every victory in our life should take us deeper into praise. If we are not praising God more, and more deeply, with each passing year, are we really having much victory? Maybe we are making it "through" tough times - but coming out more bitter and sour than ever. That is not God's victory! His victory leads to a sweeter spirit, and deeper praise!
b. I gave the charge of Jerusalem . . . : Nehemiah wasn't in this for political glory. He had done a work, and now he could let it go. God would still use him in Jerusalem, but he knew it wasn't his place to "call the shots."
c. Hanani, Nehemiah's brother, was the one who first told him about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem (1:2); his initiative and concern made him well qualified to govern
d. The man Hananiah, co-leader of Jerusalem: what were his qualifications? He was a faithful man and feared God more than many. This is what God needs in a man or a woman to use them greatly!
i. Many folks who aren't all that gifted - they can't sing, they can't remember a bunch of Bible verses, they don't have a knack for teaching, and so forth - can still be used greatly of God if they are faithful and fear God!
ii. On the other hand, many terribly gifted people may always be frustrated in serving God, if they are not faithful and fearing God
3. (3) A watch set on the walls
a. A tremendous victory had been won - the walls were rebuilt. Yet, they would not protect themselves. Diligent watchmen must be appointed, and they must be guarded
i. The gates were to be opened late and closed early - it was a time for high security!
b. How many times has a victory been won in our lives - and later "lost" because there was no guard? An enemy comes in because we are not watching. Walls can be climbed if there is no one there to stop the enemy, but an enemy is easily turned back from a wall by a guard
B. List of the returned families
1. (4-5) The need to develop Jerusalem
a. Now that the walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah still wants to see how he can be a blessing to the people of God and the city of God. He notices the population is low, and there are many abandoned houses
b. Then God put it into my heart: Nehemiah wants Jerusalem to grow and prosper, but if that is to happen, he must first know who he has already. Just as when he toured the broken down walls in 2:11-16, he needs to know the problem well. So, he takes a census and looks at the registry first written by Ezra in Ezra 2:1-70
2. (6-73) The citizens of Jerusalem who returned from the Babylonian captivity
a. These are the people . . . who returned to Jerusalem and Judah: why is this list important? Because each of these people are important to God, because they did what so few of their fellow Jews did - go to the trouble to return back to the promised land after they had already set down roots for seventy years in the Babylonian empire
i. These are people who had a pioneer spirit; they were willing to endure hardship and discomfort, because they had a call from God that was more important than their own comfort. Life was easier in Babylon, but it was better in Jerusalem!
b. Since only about 2% of the Jews who were carried away into exile by the Babylonians came back, these one who did have the pioneer spirit are worthy of mention - and they are mentioned twice in God's eternal word! (here and in Ezra 2)
i. It would be pretty cool to have your name in the Bible (at least in a positive light); and though that is too late for us, God does have a book of remembrance (Nehemiah 3:16), and surely the names of God's faithful pioneers will be in it!
c. Who the people were was important (specific names were mentioned); what families they came from was important (many family heads are named), and their gifts to support the work were important (they are specifically listed towards the end of the chapter)
d. Some could not be priests until their lineage was determined; in the Old Testament, one could not be a priest unless it was established that they descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, and the first high priest over Israel
e. This list flows beautifully after the completion of the work, because it reminds us that the work was really all about these people.
i. The walls weren't all that important; what was important was the benefit the walls could have in the lives of God's people (enabling them to live in peace and security)
ii. The building work wasn't all that important; what was important was the benefit the building work had in the lives of God's people (teaching them to work hard, work together, work through adversity and attack, and work till the job is done)