i’m wondering how closely knit the activity of nehemiah 3 and the attitudes of nehemiah 4 are.
chapter 3 is the rundown of who worked where. it reads like a genealogy from numbers or something. so and so worked at such and such … next to them, whatshisname worked… etc. etc.
i think there are some crucial elements at play in chapter 3, the most significant being community. and i think the contagious community and efforts of chapter 3 allow for the confidence and hope in chapter 4 (where the israelites arm themselves and prepare for attack WHILE still working… some with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other!).
a problem i see with believers today is the desire to live nehemiah 4 without living nehemiah 3. let me try to explain…
recently, our high school students had a spring weekend. (most people would recognize it as a disciple now.) the reason we call it spring weekend as opposed to d-now is that it was purposed for outreach. ideally, the homes are full of unbelieving students that our churched students have invited. you can’t disciple unbelievers, ya know. (which leads to an entirely different set of blog posts!)
over the years, however, we’ve seen less and less unchurched students attending. (i realize this does not fall squarely on our church students, it falls pretty shapily on me, as well.) for all intents and purposes, the weekend HAS become a d-now. this year we did service projects rather than recreation and our students did a great job of diving in and working hard.
experiencing that weekend, reading nehemiah and feeling the conviction upon my own life made me wonder how many believers (again, including myself) are willing to hop on a plane, cross a border or cross a town to do ministry but aren’t willing to go next door, or down the hall or across the room. i feel we want to stare down adversaries and let God champion our battles like in nehemiah 4 without knowing our neighbors and working in our own back yards like in nehemiah 3.
i’m pretty sure the chapter 3 lifestyle allows for the chapter 4 victory. in chapter 3 you work side by side in community, you work where you live and you work on whatever needs to be done. in chapter 4 the community and unity from chapter 3 come to mind, i imagine, helping to drive out fear and lead to trust and increased faith in God.
when nehemiah exhorts the people to remember their great and awesome God and assures them that He will fight for them, i can’t help but think of the faith we should live with. today, we believers press on and “fight” with assurance in Christ’s completed work and unity like that in chapter 3 is promised through the Holy Spirit!
praying for more selflessness and neighborly willingness to fuel some hope-filled, faithful ministry!