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Serving the God of the Impossible! Part 2

NEHEMIAH: How God Uses the Ordinary to Revitalize the Kingdom!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:57
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Good Morning! I’m Pastor Wayne and I’d like to welcome you all to the gathering of Ephesus Baptist Church.
As we gather this morning, it is imperative that we understand why we gather. We gather to worship and exalt the name of the one who has become our salvation. The right hand of the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ!
If you are visiting with us this morning, we want you to who we are...
We are all one family of faith: “giving our all to love God, love people, proclaim Jesus, and make disciples in our generation.”
That is our mission, our purpose, why we exist as a church.
We have a connect card in the pew in front of you. I invite you to take one and fill it out! If you have prayer needs, you can let us know about those as well.
I promise, our prayer team will lift you up soon. You can place those cards in the offering plate when it comes around.
Who’s Your One?

Scripture Memory

Romans 8:34 ESV
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Opening Scripture Reading

Ephesians 4:1–6 ESV
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.


We began last week in our passage, by looking at how Nehemiah provides us with four Biblical truths that will help us to stand firm and serve the God of the Impossible in obedient faith!

1. Celebrate all the work that God accomplishes through His people. (6:15-19)

2. Conclude in your heart that God’s Kingdom work will be an unfinished task until Christ returns. (7:1)

Chapter 7 of Nehemiah’s memoir serves as a transition from the building of the wall to something else entirely!
The wall has been rebuilt. The doors are hung in place. The people are celebrating the work God called Nehemiah to complete.
The enemies are humbled by God’s blessing upon His people. All is right in the land. Everything has been accomplished........ or has it?
Nehemiah 7:1 ESV
1 Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed,
Does that opening line sound like someone who believes they are finished?
It has been said that...
“There is always more to be done, and the doing is not meant to stop until this life is over.” ~ Anonymous
So what is next for Nehemiah, for Jerusalem?
There is no doubt that Nehemiah pondered these thoughts in his mind that September day when the last gate was set in place and the wall was complete.
I believe that Nehemiah was coming to the conclusion that his real mission had hardly begun.
Israel needed to be re-ordered and re-established in a way that would allow them to become what God had called them to be so that they could bring Him glory among the nations.

What had God called Israel to be?

1. A Blessing to the Nations.

Genesis 12:2–3 ESV
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

2. A Kingdom of Holy Priests.

Exodus 19:6 ESV
6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

3. A Chosen, Treasured, and Holy People.

Deuteronomy 14:2 ESV
2 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Ordinary old Nehemiah is about to begin the next phase of Revitalizing the Kingdom of God!
Nehemiah’s new work... was to bring into being, with God’s help, a truly godly, holy and mature Jewish community in “the holy city of the King.”
Prior to the rebuilding of its walls, Jerusalem had been an open city, broken-down, economically depressed, low in morale, under-populated, and in no way glorious to God.
Now that the walls were up, the human factors in this sad situation had to be attended to.
Nehemiah has to turn his attention to revitalizing the hearts of his people, which is a much, much more difficult restoration project.
The God-sized dimensions of this work will require a greater measure of faith on Nehemiah’s part because he is incapable of changing the hearts of his people in his own strength.
So what does he do?
He begins to restore the ways God had instructed His people to be Holy and Set Apart! That is where we get our third biblical truth from.

3. Commit to living a holy life in service to King Jesus so that those who oppose the Gospel will see the Hand of God on your life. (7:1-3)

1. He appointed City Guardians and officials.

Nehemiah 7:1–2 ESV
1 Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many.
Guards or Gatekeepers were needed to protect the city from unwarranted entry from those who wish to cause harm. The City needed to be secure and well led.
Nehemiah 7:3 ESV
3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.”
The gatekeepers guarded the city at all times but during the hours of the day when visibility was low, the gates were to remain shut and locked.
In the Genealogy that follows we know there were 138 gatekeepers.
Nehemiah 7:45 ESV
45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138.
Notice that in addition to the gatekeepers, Nehemiah also strategically gave responsibility to the people to guard their homes and defend their own communities within their city.
He also named his brother Hanani, and the governor of the castle Hananiah as co-administrators of the day to day leadership of the city.
When you are a leader, you want people beside you that you can trust.
Hanani was his brother who we met first in the citadel of Susa back in Nehemiah 1:2.
Hananiah was chosen because of the kind of man he was.
Nehemiah says in 7:2 that he was
A more faithful man than many.
A more God-fearing man than many.
Leaders need co-laborers they can count on!

2. He appointed singers!

Nehemiah appointed singers.
Why singers?
Jerusalem was to be a community that worshiped God! Music is an important piece of worship! Worship is essential to Revitalization!
Before God can revive His people the practice of worship must be restored.
Some of the singers that we are told about were the Sons of Asaph who wrote many of the Psalms in our Bibles, possibly including the lament psalm of Psalm 137:
Psalm 137:1–6 ESV
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
Nehemiah 7:44 ESV
44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148.
Nehemiah 11:22 ESV
22 The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the sons of Asaph, the singers, over the work of the house of God.

3. Nehemiah appointed Levitical Priests!

The priests are going to be vitally important in restoring the religious practices of Israel. They have to be weighed carefully to ensure that they are in fact in the line of Levi and in accordance with the commands of God.
Some were trying to claim that right, but Nehemiah was so careful that without ancestral proof they were excluded from the priesthood.
Nehemiah 7:64 ESV
64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.
This may sound harsh, but we have to remember God has called Israel to be Holy, set apart for God’s glory and the spreading of God’s salvation throughout the world.
Isaiah 49:6 ESV
6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
The Gatekeepers, the Singers, and the Levites were normally all called to temple service only, but in these desperate times, Nehemiah has appointed them all to the guard the sanctity of the city of God.
All of this should remind us that the church has guard post in place as well.
God’s Word, Church Discipline, and the priority and unity of membership in the local church are three guard posts that we should not take it for granted.
These guard posts were given to us by our Lord to help us to become the Holy Priesthood of Believers that He has called us to be.
If we, as God’s people don’t learn to protect the things that have been accomplished for the Lord and passed down and entrusted to us, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the enemies sneak into our walls and take us over from within.
Christ has called us to much more than that!
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Church, we must hold firm to our faith and proclaim steadfastly the message of Acts 4:12 concerning Jesus Christ:
Acts 4:12 ESV
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Ephesus, do not lose sight that these verses come on the heels of yet another series of attacks from enemies both within and outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah wanted the people to commit to a holy life in service to Yahweh, their God and King.
We, too, must commit to living a holy life in service to King Jesus so that those who oppose the Gospel will see the Hand of God on our lives.
Next I want you to see that Nehemiah wasted no time in responding to the next phase of God’s plan in Jerusalem’s revitalization.

4. Christians serve God the best as a holy community united in purpose. (7:4-73)

Nehemiah 7:4 ESV
4 The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.
Jerusalem was a large city, but it had a small population because so many of the returning exiles settled in towns surrounding the city of God. The next phase of God’s plan is to begin repopulating the city of God.
But God would not have Nehemiah fill the city with just anyone. No, God wanted those who were willing to worship and serve Him as their rightful king. God wanted men and women who strived to live holy lives to fill His great city!
God wanted the city rebuilt from the hearts of the people on up!

a. Rebuilding a City for God’s Glory. (7:5-65)

Look at verse 5!
Nehemiah 7:5 ESV
5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it:
God again puts His plan in Nehemiah’s heart to repopulate and rebuild the city of God.
Nehemiah held a roll-call of all the people listed in the census of Ezra’s genealogy of the people found in Ezra 2. He added the names of new returnees and the Jewish people numbered a paltry 42,360 not including their servants who would have brought the overall number to 49,942 people living around the city of Jerusalem.
By way of comparison, the population of Jerusalem today is around 850,000 souls. The whole Persian Empire numbered roughly 50 million people during Nehemiah’s day.
God’s plan was to begin rebuilding the city and her population for the glory of God!
The whole purpose of the genealogy was to begin to determine who actually met God’s holy standards to dwell in the city of God.
Nehemiah had to determine who the actual Jews were so that he could move them into the city wall. Eventually in Chapter 11, he will have the Jews casts lots to bring one out of every ten into the city to repopulate Jerusalem.
This leads us to some important questions.
What right do you have to live within the gates of the new Jerusalem? The Book of Revelation tells us that only those redeemed by Jesus Christ will be able to dwell in the Holy City of heaven.
Will you be able to trace your lineage back to the family of God?
Are you related to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ?
Ephesus, we want every member of our church to know Jesus Christ, but we also want to obey Jesus by limiting our membership to those who are His as is determined by their acknowledgement of sin and their repentance from it.
We want our family to trust in Christ to forgive and to provide us the grace necessary to enter into our adoption as the Children of God!
That is how God revitalizes and builds his churches. The important thing to remember here is not to count the people but to realize that all these people counted to God! This whole saga has been a big reminder to the people that God is intent on keeping His Covenant Promises to His people, because they matter to Him.

b. The Saddest commentary of revitalization. (7:66-72)

Generosity and giving have always been a part of life in the family of God. Those who love the Lord enjoy giving even when it hurts.
I think in this genealogy lies one of the saddest words concerning the revitalization of Israel. It is the word “some.”
Nehemiah 7:70–71 ESV
70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas of silver. 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver.
After all that God has done in the city over the last 52 days, how sad is it that the passage did not read “all gave.”
God knows those who willingly and graciously give from a cheerful spirit. They are the people who will help to revitalize the kingdom of God.

c. Calling people to join the true people of God. (7:73)

Nehemiah 7:73 ESV
73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns. And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns.
Warren Wiersbe has said,
Citizenship and leadership together can make a state, but it takes worship to make that state into a godly nation.
It is the seventh month and all the people are in their appointed towns and villages many of which had been specially assigned by Moses centuries earlier.
The seventh month (Oct.- Nov.) was the time appointed for Israel to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement according to Lev. 23:23-44.
There was simply no better time in God’s economy for Nehemiah to call these Jews to become the True People of God once more.
One of the most important lessons we learn in this passage is that people are important to God. Holiness, righteousness, and justice are attributes that should define the people of God.
These are the kind of people God wanted to represent Him to the world.
Do you see the plan of God in the midst of the revitalization of His people?
What began in Nehemiah 1 as a concern for Jerusalem not fulfilling its role in glorifying God before the nations led to the construction of the wall amidst great conflict between chapters 2-6.
This was followed by celebration and consideration in chapter 7 that would prepare the people for a special time of consecration in chapters 8-12 as they seek to become what God intended for them to be.
God is raising up a people for his own glory. He is rebuilding a Kingdom that will one day usher in the Savior of the world as a newborn infant born of a Virgin.
One day this city will be the place of redemption for the whole world. A new people will be revitalized on that day in this same city as the Holy Spirit descends upon them and empowers them to be the disciple of Jesus Christ!
Like Nehemiah, these Apostles of Jesus Christ trust God to enable them to do the impossible as they served the God of the Impossible daily in spreading His gracious Gospel throughout the world.
Are you living each day in celebration of the work of God in and through your life, your family, and your church?
Have you concluded in your heart that our Kingdom work will never be finished until our dying breath or the return of our Lord Jesus?
Are you trusting God to work powerfully through you as you go through life awaiting that day?
Have you committed to living a holy life in service to King Jesus so that those who oppose the Gospel will live to see the Hand of God on your life?
Are you at the point where you realize that Christians can do far more good when we are united around God’s Kingdom purposes than we can when we are divided by personal goals and preferences?
Church, Let God do something with our lives and then we can shout to the world,
“God did it!”
Let us model for all the world that we serve the Lord of the impossible.
Now I Belong to Jesus
Hymn No. 345
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