Wednesday, March 29
Author: Rev. Vicki Franch, Pastor of Pastoral Care
FROM THE BIBLE
The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. … Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. Next to them repairs were made by Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite—the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah—who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River. Next to them Uzziel, son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall…. Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. Next to him Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
Nehemiah 3: 3-12
Nehemiah is the book of the Bible most dear to those undertaking the building or the renovation of a church. As we think of our own building project, it’s good to look and see what Nehemiah was up against. We can learn a lot about the character of those who rebuild.
In this book, we read the story of the noble Nehemiah, a Jewish official who worked in exile for the King of Persia. He had heard the city of Jerusalem, God’s holy city, was still lying in ruins, and it cut him to the heart. He prayed and got his courage up to ask the King to release him from service so that he could go and rebuild. (He also, while asking, got building materials, a troop of guards, and letters of safe passage. Smart man.)
Jerusalem was a mess: no gates to keep it safe, no walls to protect those within. Enemies and naysayers were all around. But he and the people who were with him were eager to rebuild.
As you can see, our passage today is full of those Old Testament names. But the story that Nehemiah Chapter 3 tells is a great reminder of the character of builders! These builders work on the parts of the city that is most dear to them. The gates and walls they are working on will guard their homes and businesses. All members of the surrounding Jewish faithful were asked to participate. They built, despite physical and verbal attacks and hardship. Night and day they built, sometimes with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Would we be as willing to work all-out the way they did?
But some refused. See verse 5? A group of nobles from Tekoa declined to put their shoulders to the work of the Lord. They may have felt too important, too elite to build. Nehemiah takes note of that, to their everlasting shame. We remember them because they waved off the chance to rebuild their city.
See verse 7? These are men from ‘beyond the river,’ the River Jordan. They came from pretty far away, yet they wanted to be a part of the great project. Who will pitch in from far away to be a part of our church being renovated for the future?
Do you see the goldsmith and the perfumer in verse 8? They are elegant craftsmen, working in the area of the city that will be their own. When they go to the doors of their homes and shops and look around them, they will see walls they labored and sweated over and feel pride.
As we build, we will look around at our church’s renewed beauty and purpose and feel good about having given our support to it. After all, this church belongs to us, and we want to contribute to its future.
Last, of all, look at verses 11-12. There was a part of the city where baking ovens were located to limit the danger of fire in other parts of the city. Could it be that Malchijah was the best baker in town? He made sure the Tower of Ovens was perfect.
And my favorite part of all, Shallum, who was ruler over half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs with his daughters. I love to think of those strong women, sleeves rolled up, working alongside their fathers, building up their city.
All kinds of characters, men, women, rich and poor, young and old, influential and simple, nobles and businessmen and women, worked to make their city strong and beautiful, fit for generations to come.
My prayer is that we people of Peachtree will say, “Let us start building!” Nehemiah 2: 18 And that the Lord will see how a new generation of builders at Peachtree can build something beautiful together.
Dear Lord, there are moments in life when we step up and do something that is important, something that will last long after we are gone. Help me to respond to this moment in Peachtree’s history with joy and determination. Even though I may not pick up a hammer, I can make a mark for our future and for the Kingdom. Lord, thank you for making me a part of this time! In Jesus’ name, Amen.