Last week Jinson shared a beautiful sermon on ‘Our response to Opposition while serving an unstoppable God’ from Nehemiah chapter 2.
We learned about the Unstoppable might of Gods plan unfolded in the life of Nehemiah, the significance of waiting & our faithful response while facing opposition.
Today let’s look at Nehemiah chapter 3.
After reading through chapter 3 you must have already realized that this chapter is a bit different from all the other chapters, the chapter is all about who built which part of the wall and that’s it.
Most people skip chapter 3 when they’re preaching through Nehemiah and commentaries are very short on this chapter. One of the best books on Nehemiah is “Hand Me Another Brick” by Chuck Swindoll and nor does he address chapter 3 in his book.
Basically, Nehemiah chapter 3 is where the rebuilding of the walls begins. The purpose for which Nehemaih was sent is now in progress.
As we see the walls being rebuilt, there are 2 questions we need to ask ourselves.
First Question – Why were the walls being rebuilt?
Yes, we did talk about it in the earlier chapter that the walls were built to protect the people from their enemies. But do you think that God really needed a wall to protect his people?
Second Question – What walls are we supposed to build around us today?
Most often as Christians we can conclude that the walls are the walls of separation; separation from the world, separation from the society, separation from the culture around us.
I’ve been a victim of this conclusion people made from the scriptures. Growing up in a Christian family I was always asked to separate myself from the world and to live a holy life. Psalms chapter 1 was always read out to me in defense to that lifestyle.
‘Do not stand in the way of sinners
Do not sit in the seat of the scoffers’.
But that’s not the truth. Our calling is not to build walls between ourselves and society. The point is not for us to separate ourselves from the culture around us.
Let’s turn our bible to Jeremiah 29:41-9 and see what God is saying to his people.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.
God says to his people to find their welfare in the welfare of the city. The false prophet came and told the people to separate themselves — something that we are tempted to do today — but that was not what God had for His people).
We must remember that we have been called into the world — to be in the world, but not of the world.
Jesus Christ when he was in this world demonstrated that lifestyle for us. He was often found among unbelievers, tax collectors, people who were rejected by society and the religious people of that generation, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Just last week I was having a conversation with one of my friend in the office and he said to me, ‘If we ignore the fact that Jesus was the son God and just a mere man, what he said and did while he was on this earth would look quite offensive to the current generation Christians’. He was a radical man with a radical approach to life and people around him.
In John 17:13-18 Jesus said,
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them,for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Often a wrong understanding leads Christians into wrong behavior towards others.
As Christians we can go to work and never interact with people from other religious backgrounds, we distance ourselves, we judge them wrongly, look down on them for their beliefs, never participate in their fun activities, avoid going to movies with them, avoid parties etc.
Remember, God is always on a mission and as God’s children we are on a mission. There must be proximity to the people who don’t know Him in order to show them who God is. So, why rebuild these walls then?
The walls are much more to do with Distinction.
While we are not called to separate ourselves from the world, we are called to be the distinct people of God. We are different from people who don’t know Him. We have been ransomed by Jesus Christ, bought back from the world. We’ve been saved from Satan, Sin & Death but we’ve also been saved to a newness of life, one in which our lives look drastically different than the world looks. And our desire now should be to put this newness of life on display and making the distinctions obvious so that it can be the aroma of life to some.
I believe that the wall around Jerusalem should be thought of us analogy to the wall of distinction around God’s people today. Not a wall to separate, but a wall to identify.
But here’s the beautiful thing, Jesus went outside the wall, he went outside the camp. And so are we called to live.
Not just are we called to live outside the camp but we are called to live Exemplary lives, one that Glorifies God in everything we do.
We see a snapshot list in Hebrews 13:1-16, a kind of lifestyle we are called to live.
• Let brotherly love continue.
• Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
• Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
• Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
• Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
• Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
• Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
• Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood, therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
• Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
• Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The first section of this text talks about the importance of distinction. The second section talks about how we use that distinction to give ourselves away outside the walls (the camp).
It’s a privilege to be called a distinct people of God and our response is to faithfully serve him and live for His glory till the last breath of our lives.