Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Building Together (Nehemiah 3:1-12)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Luke Smith (Guest preacher)

You would turn with me to Neemiah chapter three. If you don't know where Niemiah's is, open up the middle of Your Bible. Usually Open the psalms and flip back a few pages to Neemiah. It's right before job in my chapter three. It's a delong chapter with a lot of hard names, so we're only going to read the first twelve versus. This is the word of God. Then, Alaship the high priest, rose up with his brothers, the priests, and they built the sheep gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the hundred, as far as the tower of Hananel, and next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zakhor, the son of EM rebuilt. The sons of Hassana built the fish gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, it's bolts and it's bars, and next to them me remote the son of Uriah, son of Hakaus repaired, and next to them Mashilam the son of Berachiah, son of Michezebel, repaired, and next to them Zadok, the son of Batna, repaired, and next to them that to Kohites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. Joy Ada, the son of Pasca, and Mushi Lum, the son of Bessodaya, repaired the gate of Yashanah. They laid its beams and set it's doors, it's bolts and it's bars, and next to them prepared Melatia, the gibbeon night and jade on the room. The maranathite, the men of Gibeon and of MISSPA, the seat of the governor of the province beyond the river. Next to them. Usi All, the son of Harahia, Goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him. Hanna, and I are one of the perfumers, repaired and they restore Jerusalem as far as the broad wall. Next to them. Rafaiah, the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. Next to them. Judiah, the son of Haruma,...

...repaired opposite his house. Next to him, Hatush, the son of Hashabania, repaired. Malquijia, the son of Hareem, and Hashu, the son of Pahat Moab, repaired another section, and the Tower of the ovens next to him. Shalam, the son of Hollowhsh ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired he and his daughter's you may be seated. So when my wife and I first got married, we lived in Saint Luis, Missouri, in a very tiny apartment, the sides of a postage stamp almost. We had a tiny bedroom, tiny living room, tiny bathroom, tiny kitchen with a tiny ink and a almost no counterspace and, most importantly, no dishwasher. And that was a big deal because I don't like to wash dishes. I don't mind drying dishes, I'll dry dishes all day long. I don't want to wash dishes because it's kind of a dirty job, right, it's kind of gross, you know. You're having to clean off all the goop and the gunk from plates and cups and Silverware and somewhere along the line you play that little game of find the sponge in the murky water, right, and at the end you're cleaning out all the the gunk from the bottom of the drain. Right, it's gets gross and I don't want to get my hands dirty like that. I know what you may be thinking, that sounds really selfish and petty, and you would be correct. It is selfish. It is petty, but you know, there are many aspects, other aspects of my life where I selfishly don't want to do the kind of work that...

...gets my hands dirty. And the same mystery for you. What about those times when we know that that change is coming and we're not looking forward to that change because we know it's going to task us, we're going to have to do some heavy lifting, we're going to have to get her hands dirty. Maybe it's change in or even a season of change at work. That's cool in our families, in the church. Maybe you are looking forward to the benefits of the change but not the process because it's going to put you to work. Or what about those times when you walk up to somebody and greet them, just say hey, how you doing, how are you, and you expect a superficial response. You want a superficial response, and then, instead of saying dude, well doing good, thanks for asking, they actually tell you the truth and they start to unload all their emotional baggage on to you in that moment and you think, oh no, I didn't expect this, I didn't want this. How'll get out of the situation? You start looking around for other people that you might know that to say, Hey, I've been meaning to talk to this person. I'm sorry, you got to go. I don't have time for this right now. I not now. I've got to stop and and carry their burdens. I don't want to get my hands dirty with this. You've been there. This is where neamiah three is so helpful for us, because Niama three is not just a chapter in the Bible with a bunch of names that are very hard to pronounce, and I'm thankful that we chose to stop at verse twelve, because there's another...

...twenty something versus of more hardly pronounceable names, and I'm not that smart. But it's more than just that. It gives us a picture of God's people getting their hands dirty, doing the heavy lifting, building together and doing hard work. But it's good work. It's good work because the Lord has restored them to himself and in the process he's restored them out of their exile to their city of Jerusalem, and that is good work. When the Lord does the Good Work of restoring his people, he also calls his people to good work. So let's look at the work this morning. What is the work before us in theemiah chapter three. Well, at the work you see immediately before the people. Is What it's the building of the wall, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. But that's not actually the first project that they undertook coming out of exile to get back and read the book of Ezra. See, the people of God had been carried off the southern Kingdom of Israel. Judah had been carried off a couple generations before to Babylond into Persia, Ja and their city had been ransacked. And now Cyrus, the King of Persia, has shown them some grace and he he shown them kindness and tells the might look, Nemai, you can go back and you can rebuild the city, you can rebuild Jerusalem. Now, if you are going back to a city, your home city, that had been completely destroyed, the walls destroyed, homes destroyed, businesses destroyed, culture destroyed, these people are having to relearn their language, families destroyed, lives destroyed by this enemy nation.

What do you think might be the first logical step to take in rebuilding the city? If it's me, and if it's probably you, you're probably going to build a wall. You're going to build it fifty feet higher, fifty feet think thicker. So hopefully this does it happen again, that you don't get ransacked again. But is that what they did? Know? If you look back at eggs Ezra, you see that the first project they undertook was rebuilding what the temple? They built the temple. Question. Why were the Israelites taken off into exile by this Animu nation in the first place? It's because, generation after generation, they failed to put the Lord First. But now, instead of self preservation, their priority is to put the Lord First. So, God, we want to engage with what you, we want to love you. We now rediscovered the law. We want to follow you. I just wonder, what are the areas of of all of your lives? We're in the same question, is true for me, obviously, to the areas of my life where we have put the Lord further down the priority list, that we haven't made connecting with him and engaging with him the number one priority of our lives. But now the temple is rebuilt and our movie on the phase to the wall and we look at the wall itself, what do we see? Well, obviously we see that it is that defense mechanism right that's what the wall served as. That's its purpose. But it's more than that. Here in the my three, the wall is part of a larger work of restoration. Now, there are many things that would need to...

...be restored. Right. We just mentioned them. That the temple need to be restored. Right, it was torn down. The wall need to be restored. Right. Their lives needed to be restored. Right. Why? Why do they need to be restored? Because the people had sinned against God, and sin leaves everything in wrongs, everything. That's what sin does. And sure, they will rebuild everything, but it's not going to be the same. They rebuilt the temple, but it's not the same as when Solomon built it, is it? They're going to rebuild the wall, they're going to finish the work, but it is it the same? No, because part of what they're using for materials is the rubble from the previous wall. It's not going to be the same. Yeah, they're going to rebuild their lives, but they're not the same people. They've lost their culture, they've lost their language, they've intermarried with other people's, as Ezra tells us. But something does remain the same. Well remains the same is that this God is a God who is still intent on restoring his people to himself and causing them to flourish despite their sin. And that is cause for devotion. That is their cause for devotion. They're devoted to the Lord, but because he's restored them, they're devoted to the work. Look back at verse one says. Then a Liship, the high priest, rose up with his brother as the priest, and they built the sheep gate, they consecrated it and set its doors. Here's a lie ship gathering with his other priestly friends that to rebuild the wall, right, to rebuyl the wall. And what do they...

...do? They consecrate the hard work, the hard labor that's before them. Now here's why that's very important for us. It's important because we tend to think that hard work, they'll kind of work that gets your hands during, the kind of work that makes sweat a little bit. We tend to think that hard work is the result of sin. But is it? Now? The pain is right. The Pain is God. When Adam Sin, God cursed the ground. Right, he said that you will, you will, you will labor in this. As you work, it will hurt. But when God made man, he put them in the garden, Adam and Eve in the garden, and we what do you do? He put them to work. Work is good, even if it's hard work, it's good. It's a way for us to enjoy God, it's a way for us to express our identity as image bears, and even hard work is good work and it can be joyful work if the Lord has called you to it. You know, I I hate running. I hate running. I ran yesterday at the gym. I hate it so much, but it's good for me, it's good for you. Maybe some of you really like to run and run for fun and I do not get that. There was a guy named Eric Little who died in a Chinese internment camp in the s. He was a Christian missionary to China. But in the twenties and one thousand nine hundred and twenty four he ran in the Olympics for Great Britain. He ran as a four hundred meter runner. He actually broke the world record at the time. I think it was like forty seven seconds, which the new world records only like three seconds off. That's pretty fast. But he told he told his...

...wife, he said God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure. Do you feel his pleasure when you work, even if it's hard work? You see the when the Lord restores his people, he puts them to work, and if you joy, enjoy relationship with God, restored relationship with God, then you can enjoy the work that he's called you to. The work of the Lord calls his people to is supposed to cause flourishing and yet it often seems so mundane. You kind of get a sense of that in the passage, don't we? There's a lot of repetition here that the priest gate got together and then that they they built this gate and set its doors. It's bolts and it's bars and then you move on. You can just imagine this next group of people laying some bricks and then putting up some mortar and then setting the the gates doors, and it's bolts and it's bars and you move on in next group of people. They're doing the same work all the way around the wall of Jerusalem. Think, man, how tedious, how boring, how mundane? Then, yeah, it is. It's just that before I was in full time ministry, I worked for a public accounting firm for about five and a half years and I hate I hated it. I hated every minute of it. I was good at about hating it and I remember sitting it at my little cubicle. I think the last person in the office is about thirty at night, binders of information in front of me, working and just so tired. It been such a long day and I just remember praying to God. God, I know that somehow this is supposed to cause flourishing because you've called me to this, but I don't think it can. Surely this can't do it. Surely this can't help spread your...

...kingdom. But I didn't get it. I did not get it. I didn't consider that God had called me to flourishing even what seems ordinary and mundane. How you considered that? We considered asking the Lord that he would show us his desire for us in the work that he has called us to have. We asked him, Lord, I am not looking forward to Monday morning. I'm not looking forward to this project. It's hard work and it's boring and it's tedious. But Lord, would would you? Would you help me find pleasure in it? Would you help me enjoy you in it and do it with a glad heart? That's the work. What about the workers? What do we see when we look at WHO's doing the work? That a couple things that stand out. First is the diversity of workers. Look at Verse Eight. Next to them USIAL, the son of Harahiah, Goldsmiths repaired. Next to him, Han and I are one of the perfumers repaired and they restored the Jerusalem as far as the broad wall. Did you hear it? Goldsmiths, perfumers. If you read on in in the chapter you get to verse like Verse Thirty One, you see merchants repairing the wall. All across this chapter you see all these people, even people from other towns, other cultures, like Takoa and Jericho. You see the priests, you see Levites, temple servants, city officials, even entire families. Look at verse twelve, next to him, Shalom, the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. He and his daughter's see. Regardless of status, regardless of background, regardless of culture, they're all getting their...

...hands dirty because everyone has a part to play. But some refuse to do the work. Look at verse five and next to them to cohites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. They were above this kind of work. But did it sound like any of these people had backgrounds and construction work? No, now, surely some didnemia is overseeing this project, and surely some were architects and construction laborers, but most people didn't have those kind of skills. But they weren't above this work. You can even see, as you read on an Emi that they were actually enthusiastic about the work because they were called to this work by the very same God that had restored them to himself and restored them out of their exile, so they could do it with joy, even if they meant getting their hands or even meant sweating a little bit. Sometimes, as pastors we see various Harper tunities to serve in the church, to serve the Lord and serve the body, to serve one another, and we hear things like ass. That's just not my thing. Here's some things that I've heard in my years of ministry. I don't really like to work with children because I've spent years raising my own kids and I don't have to do that anymore. I don't like to talk to New People, so why would I want to be a greeterer. Why would I want to get together with just a bunch of other men or women? I'm a pretty private person. I don't like to share with others. So community group small groups are not something I'm really interested in. How about this one, then? This is something that I have said at various times. Why do you need my help? Things always seem to get done. When...

...we say these things, and maybe many of us have at some point, I know I have. We say these things, how are we any better than those who thought that they were above this work? We're not. But something else stands out when you look at this people. It's not just diversity, but you see unity. Right, we're all equipped to construction. Now we've established that right, but we're all equipped with what they needed to complete the work. Yes, what were they equipped with? They were equipped with the knowledge of a God who had restored them to himself, who saved them, who loved them, who was present with them in the midst of this, who would never leave them, who calls his people together to participate in the mission of repairing what was once torn down. You know, if you if you look around at this body, and I know so few of you. But if you're anything like my church or any of the other churches I've ever been a part of, if you look around at other people, you see you see priests, you see Levites, you see temple servants, you see a whole lot of goldsmiths and merchants and perfumers, ordinary folks, but all are equipped with what you need to build the Kingdom of God. He has equipped us. The Lord equips us with a knowledge of his salvation, then, all of Jible, knowledge of his restoration, as it the writer of Hebrews says that he is equips us with everything good in order that we might do as will now. Something we can't overlook as we go through this passage is that there's a word that keeps popping up time after time, verse after verse, the most often repeated word here in chapter three, and that's...

...the word repair. That word doesn't mean to bring back to the way it was, but that word means to make strong or to make stand firm, to build up even in the face of opposition. You see, the work that each individual is doing here is not just to build up the walls, not just to make the wall stand firm, to make it strong, but it's to build up each other. It's to make each other stand firm, to make each other strong. I love how this chapter is lay it out. You have this person saying next to this person and they built a wall, and then he get moves on too this other person, and then his family, and then they built the wall and so on and so on and so on, all the way around the wall of Jerusale. You can imagine that each person is acting as a kind of little personal trainer, because you know, people got tired. Right you see someone sweating and dehydrated and he said, Hey, here's some water, but keep going. Five more bricks, a little more mortar. You can do it. It's good work. I know it's hard work, but it's good work. You can do it. You know, when we work together, when we take up the work that the Lord has called us to, specifically that work of the Great Commission, is, Jesus says, go into all the world baptizing, baptizing people the name of the father's son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them everything that I have commanded you. Well, we do that kind of work. We're not just repairing cracks in the wall with mortar. We're appearing cracks in each other's lives with a Gospel and Christ like love, that love that Jesus called us to earlier this morning, that new commandment to love one another. It's...

...the gospel of Jesus. When we encourage those who've had a rough week of parenting or rough week at school, or maybe we have given our time to that awkward new guy, or we show value and dignity do the single person who seems like a misfit often, or maybe we do something simple like taking a meal to a grieving family. When we do those things, we are declaring to those people that that we serve a Lord who loves to restore his people, who loves his people. Well, you know, just a few months ago we celebrated Easter, we celebrated this person of Jesus Christ, the God man, that, even though he was fully God, he humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant and he became man and did the work that no one else could do. Jesus never said this is above my pay grade or below my Pagret, I am above this work. He never said that he came to restore his people, that was his mission. He never said that's just not my thing. What did he do? This prince of peace, carried a cross on his back through this city, this city Jerusalem, the city of peace, so that he could bring these people, and you and me peace that Jesus was driven outside these same city walls built with these same hands, as an exile. He was driven out with that cross on his back, so that he can make these people who had been...

...exiled, he can make those people citizens of a greater city of God. And he's done the same for us. Through his death and his resurrection. He has repaired us, he has made as strong, he has made us to stand firm against all opposition, their greatest enemy, our greatest supponent of sin and death. Jesus has taken all that away for good. He is restored what was torn down in Adams Sin, the promise that was made in the garden by God himself that he would alone restore relationship between God and man. That is what this restoration in em three points to. That is the greater restoration. That's what united them together to build and fulfillment of that promise is the finish work of Jesus. That unites us together to build his kingdom, together to encourage one another to continue that good work, to make disciples, to build community, to love people, even those people that we don't really like, for the people we love, to ignore, to love the city in our neighborhoods and as we stand together, as we build together, that work that the Lord has called us to, that work is worship. It's worship. What is worship? It's describing worth to the Lord, ultimate worth to the Lord will. When do we worship? Well, we obviously worship in times like this, right when we gather together and we lift up our voices and sing praises to the Lord, when we pray together, when we fellowship together, when we eat together, when we party together, we cure each other's burdens, like having those conversations with people and we just want...

...to know all they're doing and then we end up being stuck. We worship him when we say, Lord do you have restored me to yourself through Jesus. You have shown me value and dignity and you have given me worth. And so, because of that, Lord, I want to stop and I want to talk to this person. He's had a really tough week. I want to carry their burdens, I want to serve our kids. We also worship when we encourage one another, even in the things that seem very mundane and ordinary, like most of life. Most of life seems very ordinary, it seems very Monday, and at least it can be. We can encourage one another is we wash dishes, as we change dirty diapers, you can. You worship God when you change diapers. Yeah, you can, doing it all for his glory, when we grade papers, we stay at work late, all our ordinary activities, but something the Lord has called us to in that moment, in that season of life, to enjoy him and to glorify him and to build up his people. But we don't do it to loane. We aren't living in isolation right. We each have each other to build together, other to encourage one another, to say, I know it seems mundane, I know it seems ordinary, but the Lord has called you to this and you can enjoy him, you can flourish in this, you can take pleasure in him. Even though it may be hard work, even though we may get our hands dirty, we can do it together with a joy of Christ because he has called us to it. He's restored us to himself. He's called us a good work. I wonder what the next coming...

...days, very hot days, next coming weeks and even months, might look like for you and for me as we labor in the work that God has called us to in our families, in our neighborhoods and our workplaces. Is it going to be hard work? We know it is. We're going to have to get our hands dirty. Yeah, but we can look forward to it and do it with joy. We can worship God in it, because he's restored us to himself with a blood of Jesus. He says, I've given you a new purpose, I've given you new commandment. Love one another, build together, go into the world, proclaim my name. Be About Grace, all for Jesus. Let's pray.

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