by Christopher Harbin

After The Wall
Christopher B. Harbin
Nehemiah 7:1-5a, 66-73

All too often, we look at big projects and fail to think of what comes next. We may build or buy a house, but don't necessarily think about its cleaning, upkeep, and organization. We may plan a big party and take care of all the decorations, invitations, and refreshments without considering the cleanup that is needed afterwards. We begin a new job with excitement, but perhaps without considering all its responsibilities or how it might impact other aspects of our lives. When we give our lives to Christ Jesus for salvation, we might fail to consider the responsibilities and purposes that come along with that salvation. What comes next, beyond the limits of our planning and preparations?

Nehemiah had set out from Susa with a great task before him. The wall to be built was an immense undertaking. The extent of the wall was something on the order of 5Km in length, some three miles. It was an enormous undertaking. To have been completed in 52 days was more than simply extraordinary. It was quite a feat and reason for great celebration. We would expect to read in this passage of the celebrations at the end of the project. We would expect feasts, speeches, and lauding the accomplishment of the people and God's hand in giving them the wherewithal to accomplish this in the face of all the opposition. That is not what we find, however. Any of our expectations for the proclamation of a feast and celebrations upon this accomplishment are for naught. Nehemiah had other plans and projects in store.

The wall had a purpose. That purpose was first of all protection and security. It was designed to meet the immediate needs of Jerusalem's inhabitants, as well as the population in the surrounding areas. Instead of a celebratory feast, what we find is that Nehemiah moved on to organize and direct the next steps for Jerusalem and its security.

He named and installed gatekeepers. He charged the gatekeepers not to o ...

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