Lord's Day Evening Meditations April 6, 2003

Nehemiah 3:13-32

"To Every Man His Work"

Nehemiah had a deep exercise about the condition of the wall of Jerusalem and he had succeeded in raising an interest in the people, so that they said, "Let us rise up and build." In this chapter we are taken all the way around the wall of Jerusalem to see the builders. The Lord looked down with pleasure on this work, and the Holy Spirit wrote, in God's eternal book, an account of it, with the names of some of the builders. We have previously noted some of the details given; the last was in verse 12 where we saw Shallum working, "he and his daughters." These were commendable women, doing the work of the Lord. It is a reminder that in our time as well, there is much that believing women can do for the Him.

Those who repaired the valley gate (v.13), "set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof." This is in contrast, as we have seen, with Eliashib who built the sheep gate, but didn't put on any locks and bars.

Malchiah, a ruler, a man of position, repaired "the dung gate." (v. 14) In a day when animals were an important part of everyday life, and when there were no sewage systems, we can imagine that this was the gate through which the dung was carried to be disposed of outside the city. It wouldn't have been a very attractive part of the city wall, and was probably a rather humiliating place to work, but Malchiah was there, doing his share of work for the Lord. In all the variety of work that the Lord may give us to do, it is not the type of work that we are doing that is important, but the fact that it is the Lord's work.

Next to him, Shallun repaired "the gate of the fountain." (v. 15) There is something specified about his work that is not mentioned about the others. We read, "He built it and covered it." Seeing as it was the fountain gate, there must have been a fountain there, and Shallun took care to cover it in order to keep the water clean. How important a consideration that was then, and a lesson for us now. We drink at the fountain of the Word of God. In itself, it is absolutely pure, but we must be careful to not allow impurities to get mixed in with it. Shallun teaches us the important lesson to not allow the things of the world to get mixed up with the Word of God.

We'll go now to verse 20 where we read that "Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece." Do you see something said here about the work of Baruch that is not said of anyone else? The others built and repaired, but Baruch "earnestly repaired." The others worked diligently and faithfully (except Eliashib), but the Lord saw something extra in the heart and work of Baruch. It is nice to see the Spirit of God noticing and recording these details. There is something similar in Romans 16:12. "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis which laboured much in the Lord." This reminds us that the Lord sees our hearts and the things that we do for Him, and He notices the little things which might seem rather unimportant. They are not unimportant to Him.

Work for the Lord is not all in preaching to great crowds or performing spiritual feats before the eyes of the world. We see in these Scriptures that the Lord notices and records little details, and this is in accord with His own words in Luke 16:10 - "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." We all have opportunities to serve Him in our daily routine and surroundings. If we are faithful to Him in these little things, then He may give us greater things to do for Him.

But this raises another thought about working for the Lord. There are two things to take into consideration: quantity and quality. Persis was commended for the quantity of work she did - she "laboured much in the Lord." Baruch is commended for the quality of the work he did; as he "earnestly repaired," you can see that his heart was in it, and you can be sure that the piece of wall he repaired was well done! There is a danger of sacrificing quality for quantity; there is the danger of thinking that quantity only is important with the result that much outward work seems to be accomplished without giving attention to doing it in the right way, that is, according to the Word. In 1 Cor. 3:9 - 13, where it is also a matter of building, we find that "every man's work shall be made manifest and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." See how the test here is of the quality, not the quantity of the work. The gold, silver, and precious stones will remain, whereas the wood, hay, and stubble will all burn. In Christendom, much importance is placed on doing great quantities of work, but sadly, often, there is not the carefulness to do it the Lord's way.

A prime example of this in Scripture is David bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem. Read 1 Chron. 13 and 15:1 - 15. When he brought the ark of God to Jerusalem he was doing the right thing, but when he put the ark on a cart drawn by oxen, he was doing it the wrong way. God's Word had specified that the ark was to be carried by Levites, and David, for some reason that we don't know, had not paid attention to this important detail. It caused the death of a man. The lesson in this for us is, that it is not only important to do the right thing; it is important also to do it the right way.

In verse 21 we find Meremoth, whom we saw in verse 4, repairing "another piece" of the wall. He finished the part he was working on, and then went around and began working on "another piece." Here was a man who was doing double duty. The sad part of this verse is that this second piece was on the house of Eliashib. Often, the wall of the city formed one wall of the houses inside. The wall at Eliashib's house needed repair, but he wasn't working on it. Someone else had to do it for him. In verse 28 the priests repaired "every one over against his house." I wonder if we realize that we might have some wall building to do right at home. The basic unit of society is the home - the family, and if the enemy can destroy that (as he is rapidly doing) he can destroy the nation. The sanctity of the home is important in the assembly. If we give the Lord His place in our homes and keep the world out of them, we will have accomplished a very important service to the Lord that will result in blessing to our families, our assemblies, and even to the unsaved.

In verse 30, Meshullam repaired "over against his chamber." It seems that he didn't even have a house; all he had was a room. His sphere of responsibility and influence was not very great, but he was faithful in what was allotted to him. See how the Holy Spirit delights to notice these examples of faithfulness in small things.

In verse 27 we find that "the Tekoites repaired another piece." Even though their nobles refused to lower themselves to work on the wall (v. 5), they themselves are commended by the Spirit of God for repairing in two different places.

Verse 30 records the work of "Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph." This tells us that Zalaph had at least six sons, and that Hanun was either the youngest, or one of the younger ones. Where were the other five sons, his five brothers? The Word is silent; they are not mentioned. The record is that only one in the family identified himself with God's people in the repair of the city wall. How beautiful it is, but also, how rare, to see a complete family - father, mother, and all the children, going on for the Lord. So often the brothers and sisters show no interest so that only one, sometimes the youngest, goes on in the Lord's things. The older ones, who should be setting the example, are off following other interests. Well, those of you who have brothers and sisters who are not living for the Lord, don't get discouraged. They are the losers. If you seek the Lord's approval, He will say to you in a coming day, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," and you will be very happy that you tried to please Him. S.L.