Commitment & Sacrifice Nehemiah 11:1 – 12:6 Pt 1
Commitment is everything in surfing contests, commitment to the manoeuvre, commitment to a plan for the heat, commitment to preparation and technique. All of these things and proceeds that athletes commit to take years and hopefully again the goals they have set before them. Yet here in Nehemiah we see the people of God commit with absolute purity after rolling the dice or casting lots so to speak…
Neh 11:1 b the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city
Last chapter closed with the statement…We will not neglect the house of our God.
Here the chapter opens with an amazing level of commitment to Jerusalem ‘the Holy city of God.’
Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls in 52 days (6:15). He had lead the people, who were once so defeated they just lived in amongst the rubble. Now he had lead them to become the people of God again. They met God a fresh and rebuilt there relationship with Yahweh. Nehemiah recognises that there is still one final thing that needed building.
7:4 The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt. 5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy…
Jerusalem needed more people. this vast city was virtually empty, all those who had come to assist sacrificially with the building of the wall, had now returned to there villages in the surrounding countryside. The small number of residents needed to be increased for the city to become viable and vibrant. These Israelites recognised that the city’s community life and its witness / testimony to Gods greatness, could only be developed at a great personal cost to themselves.
Nehemiah adopted a tithing principle in regards to the population. 11:1b 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. One out of every 10 people were to relocate to the city.
This was a costly transition, moving away from the spacious countryside into the confines of city life. This required them to leave homes, wider families, neighbors, work, friends and all the familiarity of home and set up a new life in a totally different environment.
Yet despite the obvious and numerous obstacles the people show total commitment to Gods will. We don’t read of any problems, protests or politics surrounding this action. In vs 2 we see that there are others who are so moved to assist they come voluntarily…
2 the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.
About 5000 of these contemporaries of nehemiah were prepared to subject themselves and their whole families and future to the unfolding of God’s sovereign will for their lives. What they preferred was secondary to what God desired.
In our different culture we would not choose to discern his purpose by means of casting lots. We are enriched with greater spiritual privileges and resources than those which were at their disposal. Now, the Holy Spirit is the indwelling friend and guide of every Christian. He directs us if we are eager for his guidance. He does however ask us to sacrifice for the good of others and ultimately ourselves. He asks us to throw in our will like the lots are cast and allow God to determine the outcome rather than us try to manufacture the results we desire.
When was the last time you willingly sacrificed to serve or help another or is Gods blessing all about you being served?
When did you last abandon your will to the will of God?
‘The people of Israel’s extraordinary surrender and uncomplaining sacrificial response to God’s will is one of the neglected dimensions of Nehemiah’s story.’ Raymond Brown
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
Joan of Arc
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
Joan of Arc”