(Commentary on Nehemiah 11:1-2 by Warren W. Wiersbe - see below for the context)
Today at Crossroads we shared a message called "Faith for Building." We took a quick look at Nehemiah 7:4, where the faith and courage of Nehemiah and all those who took part in the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem become evident, because, as it says, "The city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt."
Later on, in Nehemiah 11:1-2, we hear how 1 out of every 10 of God's people were drafted and required to move to the city. They were honored for doing so.
"Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem."Unless the Lord pushes me and us in a different direction before next Sunday, we'll look at these verses next week and apply them to our lives today.
There's a lot more to say about this, but there is something important about just being present when we gather together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
It's a great encouragement. Don't forget.
From Warren Wiersbe's commentary on Nehemiah 11:
Now that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were restored, it was important that the Jews inhabit their capital city and make the population grow. For one thing, people were needed to protect the city; for they never knew when the enemy might decide to attack. It may have been safer for the people to live in the small outlying villages that were no threat to the Gentile society, but somebody had to take the risk and move into the big city.
Also, if the people really loved God and their holy city, they would want to live there, if only as a witness to the skeptical Gentiles around them. After all, why rebuild the city if you don’t plan to live there? But most of all, God had brought the remnant back home because He had a special job for them to do; and to abandon the restored city was to obstruct the working out of God’s will through Israel.
In other words, God needed people—live bodies—in the holy city. The Jews were asked to heed a call not unlike the one Paul wrote in Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (NKJV).
Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place where God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry. The men, women, and children who helped to populate the city of Jerusalem were serving God, their nation, and future generations by their step of faith.
Some of these citizens volunteered willingly while others had to be “drafted” (Neh. 11:1–2). The people had promised to tithe their produce (10:37–38), so Nehemiah decided to tithe the people; and 10 percent were chosen by lot to move from the villages into Jerusalem. Since there were few residents in the city and since the housing situation was bad (7:4), it isn’t surprising that many of the Jews were unwilling to move. We wonder what would happen in the average local church if 10 percent of the congregation were asked to relocate in order to strengthen and extend the work of the Lord!
We have grown accustomed to Nehemiah’s practice of listing the names of the people involved in his projects. In chapter 3, he told us who the people were who worked on the wall and what part of the wall they repaired. Chapter 7 lists the names of the people who returned with Zerubbabel, and chapter 8 records the names of the leaders involved in the “Bible conference” at the Water Gate. Chapter 10 contains the names of eighty-four men who set their seals to the dedication covenant. In listing these names, Nehemiah was giving evidence of his sincere appreciation for each individual who assisted in the work. It also reminds us that our Father sees and records what His children do as they serve Him. Even if others don’t recognize or appreciate your ministry, you can be sure that God knows all about it and will reward you accordingly.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Determined. “Be” Commentary Series (127–130). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.