Doing a Great Work for God
2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
We have been dealing with the theme of "doing a great work for God" as we have studied the book of Nehemiah. Now that the walls have been completed, one might wonder how chapter 7, the longest chapter in the book, would fit into that theme. Especially when you notice that the majority of the chapter is simply a genealogy which is almost an exact copy of that given in Ezra 2. As we shall see though, this chapter has a powerful connection with the work of God and fits perfectly in the sequence of the book.
If we could sum up the subject of chapter 7 into a single thought, it would have to be this: protecting the investment. In verse 1, we find that one of the first things that Nehemiah did after the walls and gates had been finished was to appoint the porters, singers, and Levites. The porters were simply gate-keepers. Singers would be needed for the praising of Jehovah and to remind the people of His mighty deeds. The Levites were full-time workers in the service of God to keep alive the knowledge and work of God. These people all had their part in protecting the investment by helping to prevent God's wrath from being provoked again.
Next, we find that Nehemiah committed Jerusalem to two faithful men, his brother Hanani and the ruler of the palace, Hananiah. These two men were to make sure that the gates stayed locked at night and shut during the day. They also were to start a neighborhood watch program due to the very small number of people actually living within the city. As we shall see, there were only about 42,000 Jews on record and many of these were living in other cities throughout the province of Judah. This a significantly fewer number of people than the 600,000 Jews recorded just prior to entering the promised land (Number 26:51). Thus the precautions ordered by Nehemiah would be necessary for the safety of those living in Jerusalem and to help keep them separated from the heathen outside.
Finally, we read that God put it into the heart of Nehemiah to gather the people "that they might be reckoned by genealogy". This was necessary to protect their heritage. They found some who could not show that they were of Jewish descent (verse 61) and some who could not prove that they were qualified to be in the priesthood (verse 63 - 64).
All of these preventative measures show the importance of keeping that which had been
committed to the Jews. After doing all of that work to rebuild the walls, no one would
have wanted to have the judgement of God repeated or to have the enemy slip in and destroy
the work. Don't we feel the same way about our work for God? Who would want to see the
suffering we have endured, the sacrifices we have made, the saints we have edified, or the
souls we have won come to nothing? Now here is a great lesson that we shall find in this
passage: You can trust God! Whatever has been committed to Him will be kept. Paul stated
this point very plainly saying that he was persuaded that God was able "to keep that
which I have committed unto him against that day".
How can we be sure that God will keep what we commit to Him? In our text we shall find three ways in which God has proven that we can trust Him.
First, we can prove God from the fact that He has kept His promises.
1. Look at the Ruin
During our study of Nehemiah we have mentioned several times that the destruction of the walls and the captivity of Judah were foretold by God as something that would happen if they did not obey all of His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:36 - 37). They became a proverb and a byword that God keeps His promises even when they involve judging His own people.
2. Look at the Rebuilding
In our last lesson we looked in some detail at the prophecies concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Here again is considerable proof that God will remain true to His word. See also Deuteronomy 7:6 - 11.
Next, let us see how God has kept His work:
1. Look at the Remnant
Fredrick the Great once asked a court preacher for a single word that would give unanswerable proof of the inspiration of the Bible to which the preacher replied, "The Jew, your Majesty". Over 2000 years before Christ, God called a Mesopotamian shepherd named Abram to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). The Jews were to be a blessing in several ways. From the Jews we would get the Scripture (Romans 3:2), and in addition they were to be a living illustration of God's children (Deuteronomy 14:1-2). Most importantly, through Abraham and the Jewish line would come the Messiah who would be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
Despite the many attempts by Satan to destroy or pollute the Jews, and to cut off the line through which the Messiah would come, God always kept a remnant. There might not have been many Jews in Judah at the time of Nehemiah, but there was still a remnant. God has protected His work time and time again, preserving for Himself a group of Jews through which to continue His plans.
2. Look at the Riches
God had provided timber from the Persian forest for the rebuilding of the walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:8), and then we find at the end of chapter 7 that the people gave both money and clothing for the work of God. Nehemiah, the Tirshatha or governor, some of the chief Jews, and the rest of the people all took part in this giving. At a time of famine and high taxes we can only conclude that God had provided these things for the Jews to give back to the work. God takes care of the finances and material needs of His work!
Finally, let us consider one other proof that God can keep what has been committed to Him.
1. Look at the Record
Why would God put it into Nehemiah's heart to have the Jews reckoned according to the
genealogy and then record that for us? This is especially an interesting question
considering that the record in Nehemiah 7 is almost an exact duplicate of that which had
already been recorded in Ezra 2, but there is a very definite and important purpose in
this. The claim of the Messiah could not have been validated without the existence of a
genealogy to prove His ancestry! It was critical that the Jews keep up with their own
family lines. For example, if Jesus had come from "Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub,
Addon, and Immer", He could not have proven that He was even a Jew. It is also
important for us to have the genealogies so that we have clear proof in the authenticity
of Jesus the Christ. God took care of maintaining His witness both for the Jews and for
If God can keep His word and witness, and He can protect His own work, surely He can protect whatever you commit to Him. Let us apply this to some great things which we may entrust into His hands.
1. Our Salvation
The most important thing that we may commit to God is our salvation. Praise God for the true token (Joshua 2:12) of the blood which can ever be a reminder that there is now no condemnation. Paul said that we could have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19). Praise God for the resurrection of Christ which proves that God was satisfied with the sacrifice of His son and proves that God is able to raise us up as well (1 Corinthians 6:14). No matter where the individual atoms that make up our bodies end up after we die, God is able to bring them all back together at our resurrection! As Job claimed, "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:26).
2. Our Soul
Christian, are you going through some difficult times? Perhaps you are suffering or going through some persecution. Peter said, "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19). As your Creator, He knows not only what you are going through but He also knows where your breaking point is. Just keep doing that which is right and trust Him!
3. Our Satisfaction
Perhaps God has called you to do some work for Him but you are afraid that this work will not bring you the satisfaction you could find from following the desires of your flesh. Yet, no one can bring greater satisfaction than God. Psalm 36 is a song about happy service to God. In verse 8, David says, "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house" who put their trust in God.
4. Our Ways
Do you ever have difficulty knowing which way is best to go or what decision is the right one to make? If you commit your ways to God, He has promised to direct your path (Proverbs 3:5 - 6). Perhaps David said this even better in Psalm 37:5, "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass". What an awesome promise!
5. Our Treasures
So many people today are busy investing their money in various stocks or money markets.
They worry about their retirement and 401K programs. Yet, Jesus said not to lay up our
treasures here on earth where "moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break
through and steal" (Matthew 6:19 - 20). Paul said, "We brought nothing into this
world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7). How much better
it would be to take the advice of Jesus and commit our lives to the work of God which will
reap rich dividends in heaven and last for all eternity.