In Nehemiah, chapter 3, we read about the rebuilding of the protective walls around Jerusalem. The workmen are listed along with a description of the sections that they rebuilt. It lists the sons of this man, the ruler of this part, another son, the Levites, brothers, and more. God even gives us the details of exactly where on the wall they worked—next to gates, doors, and particular parts of the wall—even behind named persons’ houses. For example, Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece, from the turning of the wall unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest (3:20).
Each worker is named. Each part of the wall is described.
The book of Nehemiah was probably written between 445 and 420 B.C., which is well over two thousand years ago. Yet, we read today of Urijah; the son of Koz (verse 4); the Tekoites (verses 5 and 27); Hashabiah, the ruler of the half part of Keilah (verse 17); Malchiah, the goldsmith’s son (verse 4); and many others.
Why does God make this detailed list of the laborers on the wall?
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Every person counts. When we are doing right and actively serving God, He notices! I think God might have listed these men by name because He wanted us to see that He notices each person’s work, and that each person is valuable to Him.
- Even though most of these names in Nehemiah don’t feature anywhere else in Scripture, God put them in His eternal Word in recognition of their part in His work. God honors those who work for Him.
- Each section of the wall was vitally important. The protection of Jerusalem depended on everyone doing his job well, so that the whole wall would be a cohesive whole. This whole project shows the value of teamwork in God’s projects.
- Jerusalem is God’s city, central to both the Old Testament and the New. It is the eternal city, as the New Jerusalem will be God’s abode, along with all the saints of all time.
So, what does a long list of workers’ names in the book of Nehemiah have to do with us? Let’s get practical.
- God values every Christian and recognizes any service done for Him. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work (Psalm 62:12)
- God’s work—even manual labor—is important. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it (Psalm 90:17).
- Every Christian needs to take responsibility for his “part of the wall” and complete the task God has called him to do. Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).
- God has an eternal plan for Jerusalem, and His Divine will will be done. We can trust Him. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant (Hebrews 12:22-24a).
Nehemiah’s burden for his people back home and his putting into action a plan for protecting them is an inspiration to us today. And, so are the workers who—noble or poor—laid bricks and mortar to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
May we be as faithful!