Ezra & Nehemiahby Robert M. Solomon
The poor attitude of the Tekoan nobles is not mentioned again. However, today's reading emphasises Nehemiah's great leadership abilities to mobilise all to get involved in the work.
Everyone, including the chief priest and his fellow priests (Nehemiah 3:1, 28), works on the building project. The use of neighbourhood groups, identified by the repeated phrase ″beside his house″ or ″each in front of his own house″ (vv. 23, 28), and of existing family or clan groupings as well as professional groups (vv. 8, 32) to mobilise the people shows wisdom. If every neighbourhood takes care of the section of wall connected with it, it will not take much persuasion or effort to complete the project. Nehemiah's organisational attention ensures there is no unnecessary overlap or neglected gaps in the work on the wall.
The whole of Nehemiah 3 is filled with the words ″rebuilt″ and ″repaired″: this was ″a time to build″ (Ecclesiastes 3:3), a time to join hands in the work of God. The whole chapter rings with the sounds of construction work. About 50 people and their groups are mentioned in a continuous litany of ″repaired . . . repaired . . . repaired″. The Hebrew word for repair, chazaq, is used 35 times in Nehemiah 3; it means ″to make firm or strong″.15
This reminds us of the idea of edification that we find in the New Testament. Paul urges the church to be edified or ″built up″ (Ephesians 4:12), with the word for edification (oikodomē) suggesting the strengthening and constructive effects of sound teaching.16 There is a continuing work of edification and repair to be done in our hearts and churches.
Meditate on your role in God's work in your local church, and how your church fits into the larger work of God in the nation and in the world. How can you strengthen your participation in God's work?
What is the ″repair work″ that needs to be done in your life? Consider how sound teaching of the Word strengthens and edifies (see Ephesians 2:19-22). Pray that this will be so in your local church.