All through the book of Nehemiah, we see three basic keys to their life together–which also serve as basic keys to our Christian life and our life together as a people of God. We must be concerned about:
- The will of God.
- The spiritual and physical welfare of God’s people.
- The witness of God’s people to the nations.
The will of God.
Nehemiah led God’s people to rebuild their wall around Jerusalem for their protection. Yet, Nehemiah also showed them that the reason they were in their predicament was due to their ignoring or ignorance of the Word of God as found in the Mosaic Law. Adversity from the outside is one thing; adversity from within (Nehemiah 5) are especially tragic, especially when the leaders of God’s people disregarded the law.
God’s will for His NT church are found in “The Greats” (The Great Commandment and the Great Commission): Love God with all we have, love our neighbor as ourselves, go and make disciples–which, if you’ll notice, parallel what we see of the three keys from Nehemiah. In this category, if we love God with all we have and all we are, we will surrender our all to the will of God.
The welfare of God’s people.
Sanballat and Tobiah (both respective governors/leaders of their areas) grew concerned that someone came to look after the welfare of God’s people (Nehemiah 2:9-10). The governors and leaders of God’s people themselves did not look after the welfare of God’s people, exacting interest and taking their property during a severe famine, rather than helping them get through this.
The second ‘great’ (love your neighbor as yourself) seeks first and foremost the welfare of the New Covenant people of God. We want all God’s best for them in Christ. We wish to serve as a conduit of His love and mercy to all who come our way. All who are hungry, thirsty, hungry, naked, and jailed (see Matthew 25:31-46) are on our radar because we are ultimately serving Jesus.
The witness of God’s people to the nations.
When Nehemiah confronted the leaders about their usury against their own brothers and sisters, he urged them: “Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9). The culture watches the church–and for the most part, the church looks so much like the culture that the culture is not impressed. The countercultural nature of the church means we follow God’s Word out of fear and reverence to Him and His holiness.
Christ called us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The nations (as we all were at one time–see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) stand in enmity toward God (Psalm 2:1-3). As Tim Beougher once said, “If you have people shooting at you, don’t give them bullets.” Our worldly actions give the world bullets and an opportunity to say, “See? There’s really no difference. Hypocrites!”
We will not follow the culture’s flow. We will go and make disciples who will follow the ebb and flow of Jesus.
After all, Jesus is enough!