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The Scriptorium

The Roll of Builders

All busy at the work. Well, mostly all. Nehemiah 3

Return from Exile: Nehemiah 1-5 (4)

Pray Psalm 96.8-10.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”

Sing Psalm 96.8-10.
(Mit Freuden Zart: Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord, in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove.
Exalt the Lord and praise Him.

Read and; meditate on Nehemiah 3.1-32.


1. What were the principal foci of the building project?

2. Which group refused to work on the wall or gates?

The grace of God was with Nehemiah, and he roused the leadership and they motivated their people to arise and build the wall. Chapter 3 lays out the roll of those who took a hand in the building and those who did not.

Not everyone built with the same fervor or vision. Some folks, it seems, were very energetic and committed to the whole project. For example, Hanun and his friends “repaired a thousand cubits of the wall” (v. 13). That’s like five football fields long! Others worked on considerable lengths of the wall, as indicated by the repeated use of the phrase “as far as” to explain the scope of their labors (cf. vv. 15, 16). Others made repairs only in their “district” (vv. 17, 18), which, I assume, is something like a neighborhood; while still others only worked on that part of the wall that supported the back of their own homes (vv. 22, 23). And some—we’re lookin’ at you, Tekoite nobles—decided not to work on the wall at all (v. 5). Let hoi polloi do the hard labor; we are, after all nobles.

But most people worked, following the lead of their family heads and the priests and Levites. And Nehemiah oversaw all these labors. He must have been very affirming, casting vision as he visited the work teams, expressing admiration for the work, making suggestions, and who knows, perhaps even bringing them water. The people built the walls, set up the gates, repaired the towers, and gave sacrificially of their time and resources to make this project a reality. Their sudden, dramatic, and very energetic investment in this project shows us what can happen when the Lord moves among His people (cf. 4.6; 6.16).

What might God do today if He chose to move among His people for revival, renewal, and awakening? It’s worth praying for and making sure we’re ready when some Nehemiah calls us to arise and build.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top in in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’’’ (Gen. 11.3, 4).

Now that was some furious building! But their attitude was wrong. They did the work to bring glory and power to themselves; not to glorify God.

However, the people working on the wall around Jerusalem were doing it to protect their newly built temple, their homes, and all this work, ostensibly for the glory of God. They built, made repairs, fortified, hung doors, carefully repaired, covered, and consecrated their work to Him (Neh. 3. 1-32). (Except for the Tekoite nobles whom “we’re still lookin’ at”!)

God always cares about what is happening inside us: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4.23). Because if what is happening inside us is not worthy of what is happening outside us, it is something that God will put a stop to. Just like He did with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11.7, 8). But we have been called to furiously build His Church here on earth. We have been called to repair, build, fortify, and consecrate His Kingdom work, in His way and will, just like it is done in heaven (Matt. 6.10).

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3.10, 11).

He is the Cornerstone of all we build. Without Him nothing will stand firm or remain. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Matt. 21.42). “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (1 Pet. 2.6).

The Roll of Builders includes us. We are part of those called to rebuild the walls of the captive Church today.

Will we be like Nehemiah and his willing crew, or the Tekoite nobles who preferred not? Either way, God’s lookin’ at us; for “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Ps. 34.15; Prov. 5.21; Prov. 15.3).

Let’s choose to carefully build and consecrate the Church, and those in it—including ourselves (Neh. 3.1).

For reflection
1. Read Ephesians 4.11, 12. We who are saints are to be equipped for the work that builds up the church. How are you pursuing being equipped for works of ministry?

2. We all have a contribution to make in building the church on the Cornerstone of Jesus. What keeps us from doing so?

3. Whom will you encourage today to join you in arising to build?

The work was divided, so that every one might know what he had to do, and mind it, with a desire to excel; yet without contention, or separate interests. No strife appears among them, but which should do most for the public good. Every Israelite should lend a hand toward the building up of Jerusalem. Let not nobles think any thing below them, by which they may advance the good of their country. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Nehemiah 3

Pray Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Pray for your church and other churches in your community, that God would stir His people to the work of being and making disciples, and that He would revive His people and renew their calling as witnesses to the Lord.

Sing Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
(Mit Freuden Zart: Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised.
Fear Him, and sing His glory!

All other gods are idols vain—the Lord created heaven.
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word.
Exalt the Lord of heaven.

Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness.
He comes; exalt Him greatly!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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