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November 20, 2019 12:00 am
The city of Jerusalem here flourished because of the gatekeepers and the guards and we didn't get around to them. The maintenance and grounds.
People in the singers and the priests and even the farmers and shepherds who contributed to the work all pulling their weight. The truth is, men and women that ancient city a long time ago. In this contemporary church today have a lot in common. Neither one could make it for one day without many noble people day in and day out, make it happen. This to this Wednesday broadcast of system for the heart with Stephen Devi were working our way through a series from the book of Nehemiah. We've come to the part of the story were Nehemiah needs to get the city life of Jerusalem up and thriving to do that he needs people in various roles to make that happen, but Nehemiah understand something, we sometimes mess on the top of his list of qualifications was a person's relationship with God. No matter how you serve character matters. The lesson you're about to hear is called roll the credits keep listening. I want to begin by reading some provocative words written by Eugene Peterson entitled run with the horses in this book he writes there is little to admire and less to imitate in the people who are prominent in our culture, we have celebrities but not saints. Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness ever gets headlines. If on the other hand, we look around for what it means to be a person of integrity. We don't find very much. They aren't easy to pick out no journalist interviews them. No talkshow features them. They're not admired that I looked up to.
They do not set trends. There is no cash value in them. No Oscars are ever given for integrity. At years, and no one compiles a list of the 10 best lived lives. Truth is, the world does not notice the lives of people that ought to be noticed. The truth of the matter is neither does the church very well either. Frankly, part of our fallen nature as people is to overlook the accomplishments of others to ignore the ministry of others, and the service rendered on our behalf. People are all around us who serve us and make our lives possible and easier and we rarely even notice. Think about when's the last time you went to a movie and and stayed there and watch the credits scrollbar and the musical score so will you. You thought was so beautiful. Did you stay in wait to see the name of the composer appear on the screen.
Probably not shows over on to the next event until we are. That's why I find it so interesting that at the end of Nehemiah chapter 6 when the show is basically over. The walls are up. Gates are hinged next event. It's at this point that Nehemiah stops and under the divine inspiration of the Spirit of God begins to roll the credits and take notice of people by name. We don't even have time to read all of their names, but I want to look with you at some of them inside this chapter and by the way Chapter 11 you might want open to both of those chapters, you find some wonderful truths tucked away in these credits. So let's follow evidently would God want to Nehemiah to give us before we run with our empty popcorn bucket and head for the door and let's take a look at some great truths to men and women who may Jerusalem happen. The first group of people mentioned in the credits are in verse one, let's read their in chapter 7. Now it came about when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors and the gatekeepers in the singers and the Levites were appointed that I put him in on my brother and Hannah and I the commander of the fortress in charge of Jerusalem, so he mentions here initially these singers, gatekeepers and Levites. If you turn over to Chapter 11. You notice in verse 22. The latter part there some clear guidelines for the singers. Police were told the sons of Asaph or the singers for the service of the house of God, for there was a commandment from the king that is going back to the kings of Israel concerning them and firm regulation for the song leaders, day by day.
I remember for years people of Israel have not been singing. There isn't anything to sing about when you're in captivity. In fact, someone 37 reflects their attitude. As the psalmist says. We sat down by the rivers of Babylon, and wept. Babylon was the nation that took them in the captivity. We hung our harps on the branches of the willow tree will need musical instruments were not singing more weeping but here now nearly 200 years later there tuning up their instruments. The choirs are being reformed, there's going to be music in the holy city of God once again music ladies and gentlemen is not incidental, it is essential to worship in the book of Nehemiah. You'll discover eight references to giving thanks to God. They are now praising him and that is done through music like nothing else. I find it fascinating that men and women that before the revival occurs in Nehemiah chapter 8 and look at that at another time in Nehemiah chapter 7, you have the musicians recalled and the choirs reform. Singers will provide the praise for the city of God. There's another group that was mentioned that will provide the protection for the city of God mentioned in chapter 7. Also there in chapter 11 where you perhaps are in verse 19 it says the gatekeepers. Their names were Jacob and Taubman and their brethren who kept watch at the gates and there were 172 hey what you do Taubman what is it that you do in the city of God, all on the gatekeeper. I open the gates in midmorning and then I close them at night and in between I watch carefully so that enemies of God. Don't steal linen in numbers of twos and threes carrying weapons. We guard the gates of the city. I find it interesting that the Great Wall of China which was built to keep the Mongols and barbarians out was breached by invaders four times and in each of those occasions.
They bribed the gatekeepers to let them gates are only as good as the character of the guards. I find it interesting in the in the Old Testament how our lives are referred to as walled cities and Solomon who said to guard our hearts to become a gatekeeper of our hearts so we, in effect, are all gatekeepers. We all are to guard what comes in and what goes out. John Bunyan took that and ran with it in an allegory does not as well-known as his Pilgrim's progress in a book called the holy war and it is an allegory about a city called man soul and man's soul has five gates. Those gates are the ear gate the I gate the nose gate. The field gate in the mouth gate and every day in this allegory, the enemy of man's soul would come and attack courts attempts to attack and one of these gates by whispering things in the ear gate work painting vivid and alluring pictures before the I gate and it's interesting that man's soul in Bunyan's allegory could never be toppled by outside attacks. The only way the enemy to take over man's soul was if one of those gates was opened by someone on the inside and the enemy allowed the wonder Solomon wrote.
Guard your heart. For out of it are the issues of life be a gatekeeper back in Nehemiah chapter 7 if you turn there. Nehemiah knew that he needed help leaving the city of Jerusalem, and he mentions two men verse two I put a hand on my brother and Hannah and I the commander of the fortress in charge of Jerusalem. Now this point friends walls are up in the gates are are are hinged and someone needs to help in the leading of the city is a as it will soon flourish with people as we'll see in a moment, will you look for what you look for a good look for a man or a few people with experience in leading that would make sense if you're looking for a commander of the city of Jerusalem look for somebody who's commanding another city who has the list in his or her resume of find those kind of people. Perhaps those who articulate and can communicate on the vision of the city put them in charge, it would only make sense wrong to all of those notice the two qualities. Nehemiah was looking for. In the latter part of verse two he was a faithful man that would be good to wonder. And here it is feared God more than many faithful feared the word translated feared comes from the word GRA means literally to reverence or to honor God. So when Nehemiah looked for someone to lead. He looks for someone who would honor God and be dependable to just show up and do the job and what a great lesson. By the way for the church today to an easy thing to apply, or any other missionary enterprise.
We tend to follow the world's leading and we look for the person to fill a role of leadership who is the CEO who is the leader out there in the community. We look for someone to communicate within the church and we look for those who on the outside are communicating and we tend to stuff them into the appointments and the slots the people that might look good on the outside. The people that might have a bearing, naturally, that would draw people to them you notice the two qualities that Nehemiah looked for was somebody who was just dependable and somebody who loved and honored God.
The next part of chapter 7 finds Nehemiah registering the citizens they were identified by families and clans and tribes and they were all counted every number given to us notice a few of them as we read through these credits will start at verse eight. I just read a few verses. These were the only names I practiced the sons of her Roche 2172 the sons of chef Mattia 372 the sons of her 652 the sons of pay have Moab of the sons of Joshua and Joab, 2818, the sons of Elam, 1254. As I read these, I thought that's a lot of cereal and milk white count them so carefully.
Why give us the number friends. They were counted by God because they counted to God and he didn't miss a number name. If there was ever anybody interested in the credits who read the credits. In fact, he is the original author of the credits. It is God himself. In verse 39. The priests are counted and accounted for. They had to prove their lineage going all the way back to Aaron or they would not be allowed to serve in the temple inside look at verse 61 and and learn with me the face of some of these and these were they came up from tell them a lot. Tell Harshaw chair of a Don in the mayor but they could not show their fathers houses or their descendents, whether they were of Israel. Verse 64 skip their these searched among their ancestral registration, but it could not be located.
They couldn't find her name in the family tree going back to Israel before the exile. Therefore, they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. Men and women you need to understand here that the people were excluded from living inside the city who could not trace their family heritage back to pre-dispersion Israel, the priests were excluded from serving in the temple who could not trace their lineage back to Aaron God had a standard for owning land and having a home inside the holy city, and then for serving within the holy place the temple you had to have Jewish blood flowing through your veins to have a home in this city of God, and you had to track all the way back with some kind of genealogical proof that you work from the family of Aaron.
If you ever hope to serve in the temple without that proof without that family relationship. You could live in the city and you couldn't serve within the temple located within the city wall.
I couldn't help but think as I study this and I will ask you a question. What right do you have, to live within the holy city, the Bible calls in the book of Revelation. The new Jerusalem. What right do you have to believe that you will be able to have a home in that city and serve God. There will you be able to trace your lineage back to the family of God.
Are you related your relative of God. So how do I become a part of God's family were talking about. The first step is knowing that you're not well of course I'm going in there. Is your name in the registry of heaven. Jesus Christ said to me, many will stand before me on the day they will not only just be people who went to church. They will be leaders in the church.
They will say we prophesied in your name and we exorcise demons in your name and we did wonderful works in your name and Jesus will cite. I never know you. You are related to me the pressing question in Nehemiah 7 and 11 on the heart of every person, was the question, am I related to Israel. Can I track my family line back to the people of God in the pressing question men and women on that last day as it were of human history. Is this. Are you related to a Jewish carpenter named Jesus Christ. If you have received him as your Savior at some point in your life. You wrote your name down and what Revelation calls the Lamb's book of life and is going to come a day when you can open that book and is you look for the name and Revelation chapter 20 verse 15 says if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Oh, would be an awful thing in the city of Jerusalem to want to live inside the city walls, and they can't find your name nothing in comparison to standing before God and wanting to live within the holy city of heaven, and he cannot find your name how do you get your name there. How do you become a relative of God. John tells us in chapter 1, but as many as received him a message that gospel saving person of Christ you asked for to be your Savior. At some point in your life, as many as received him, to them he gave the right to be called children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flash, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You gotta be born again into his family. If you want to get into the holy city back in chapter 7.
There are people who are making donations as I read this chapter, I think the saddest words could be the word that appears twice in chapter 7 verse 70 and verse 71 is the word some auto circle that word is a challenge to your own personal testimony where you are in this family. Some verse 70 from among the heads of fathers households gave to the work for 71 and some of the heads of fathers, households gave into the treasury of the work.
You would think men and women with the fact that the city has been completed and this magnificent miracle of God's providence has taken place that when it came time to give to the treasury of the work every one it would say all all but here even it says some so gave you may have noted earlier in chapter 7 that this big city has finished walls and gates that are hung.
But there are very people in their if you open the gates. The wind would whistle through the streets we would want to move back to a city that has yet to be inhabited by anybody more than what we find are the Chamber of Commerce and others. His job was the live in Jerusalem wants to move back and start this economy and start this lifestyle in the city that just are many people there will Nehemiah will solve this problem two ways turned to Chapter 11 and look at verse one.
The first way is this. Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem that's that's the Chamber of Commerce had to, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring 1/10. To live in Jerusalem the holy city, while 9/10 applied were allowed to remain in the other cities that we know from those who study these days that there were about a million Jews living around Jerusalem.
So they took lots they cast them men and one out of every 10 were given to the city, sort of as a gifted, and I imagine with any draft. Perhaps there were those who wouldn't serve. But we know that from what the record seems to indicate they all went.
There's a second group, however, that is given special notice verse two and the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew word volunteer made that was a wonderful what it means to be in, held by an inner urging an inner compelling to stand to be compelled the word to be translated to be courageous in all of this when it could be translated to be noble to be noble, they stepped forward and they said we will voluntarily uproot our families and leave our homes and life as we know it and we will move into the city, along with those that have been drafted and we will begin this pioneering life of faith and we will see to it that the city thrives would better word to describe them. The noble and among the noble ones. Is someone known for his praying a special mention is made in verse 17 of chapter 11 of a man named Matt Anaya and Matt Anaya, the son of Micah, the son of Zebedee, the son of Asaph, who was the leader in beginning the Thanksgiving of prayer. What you do. Matt Anaya a while I start the prayer time getting all yes and every time I do it is a prayer of thanksgiving. He was known for praying the prayer of Thanksgiving. I wondered in my own life would have been known for praying prayers that reflect that are filled with thanksgiving. This was this noble man. He was a Levite who stood at the appropriate time in front of the people and he began a prayer of thanksgiving. That's what he did the only time he is mentioned in Scripture is noble man is pray, let me tie her thoughts together with two final principles of application most of the noble things number one you do will never be recognized on earth. I wonder how many children will be will be handed over to their parents after Sunday school class without ever hearing a greeting or a thank you, how many officers or or musicians are or greeters who will never be noticed, even though they have been moved in their hearts to do noble thing about the city of Jerusalem here flourished because of the gatekeepers and the guards and we didn't get around to them. The maintenance and grounds.
People in the singers and the priests and even the farmers and shepherds who contributed to the work all pulling their weight.
The truth is, men and women that ancient city a long time ago. In this contemporary church today have a lot in common. Neither one could make it for one day without many noble people who day in and day out, make it happen.
I can tell you from my own ministry perspective I am surrounded by a staff of highly dedicated men and women who pull it together. If it's organized I didn't do it if it sounds good. I probably didn't write it. If I show up at an appointment was made for me and I was reminded the be there. The church and every church, every Christian organization. Every Christian because every missions organization is moving forward, not by a few others who stand up in front of everybody but by the majority of people who are not seen by most of the people who are noble men and noble women who make it work. Notice them. Thank her in the credits and we need more of them were willing to serve. But those who do will never be fully rewarded and noticed on earth leading to the second point. Most of the noble things you do will never be recognized on earth none. Secondly, of the noble things you do on earth will go unrecognized by God in heaven the writer of Hebrews seemed to address this. He must've been thinking about it as he said, God is not unjust so as to forget your work as you minister and continue to minister to the saints. People forget.
People take notice. People say thank you.
People overlook. You got never will. He always reads the credits. Better yet, he is in the process even today of writing a few more to be read later at a place called the bema seat. All the credits will be brought in to review.
I just sort of sat back in my study this week and I started thinking about all of the credits that I want to roll a few of them here and read of noble ones who change the diapers and sweep the floors answer the telephones and pull the weeds arrange meetings and teach the Bible lessons prepare the children's games and juice up the sound board. Clean the bathrooms and count the offering.
Those who practice the music and type the letters pray through the list and visit the guests cook the meals and teach the class. Dust the furniture in Greek the family translate the sermon and duplicate the tapes park the cars and get the coffee made disciple the teenager and lead a child to a water fountain crawl on the floor with toddlers and set up chairs in the classrooms. Wash and dry the nursery linen and clean the dishes after a church activity recruit even more volunteers or things. Those who do plan class activities and counsel at summer camp listen to memory verses and stacked the tables unload all of the equipment and then load it back up again only to be unloaded and then loaded up again only to be unloaded and loaded up again and again and again and again and know is you do it all that it is all noble work noble work for the people and ministry of Christ. Your family and loved ones that may go unrecognized on earth. But one day rewarded in question is who you doing for right if it's for the attention and applause of people forget it, they will never sit there long enough to read all of the credits as they scroll by.
But if it's for the glory and pleasure of God, he will never miss one credit he will never overlook one he sees little no matter how it is that you're so I hope you'll keep the truth you've heard today in mind, God sees what you do and he values what you do.
So keep at it. I'm glad you joined us today here on wisdom for the hearts are Bible teacher Stephen Devi is the senior pastor of colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina is also the president of shepherd's theological seminary. Stevens working his way through a series from the book of Nehemiah in the lesson you heard today is entitled roll the credits. It might be that you want to go a little deeper in your study of Nehemiah and we have a resource to help you do that it's part of his wisdom. Commentary series there's eight volumes in total so far in the series, and Nehemiah is one of them. You can learn more when you visit us email@example.com if you prefer to call us. You can call us today at 86 648 Bible. That's 866-482-4253. We'd love to hear from you. We recently heard from a couple listeners who said this, I appreciate your ministry and sound Bible teaching without compromise.
Keep up the good work and may the Lord continue to prosper your ministry to his glory that was from Justin in Bellevue Florida anyway from North Dakota said, I listen to your broadcast every morning and I'm currently reading through the Bible with the help of the Bible reading log.
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