Moving to Jerusalem

Doing a Great Work for God

Lesson 17 - Nehemiah 11:1 - 36

Thesis: The place that you dwell should be determined by the place where God wants you to do a great work

Key Verses:

Nehemiah 11:1
And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.


Our text for this lesson consists mainly of a record of those who lived in Jerusalem (vs. 3-19) and the other cities in the province of Judah (vs. 20 - 36), and how they were organized. However, we shall concentrate almost completely on the first two verses where it was decided to have 10% of the people move to Jerusalem. As we have seen throughout the book, the number of people living in Jerusalem was not sufficient to maintain the city and therefore it was necessary to bring in more.

What a blessing it was that there were some Israelites who were willing to move to Jerusalem when the need was presented. The rest were chosen by casting lots. One fact we must understand right away is that the casting of lots is a God ordained way of determining whom He has chosen. There is absolutely no luck involved in casting lots (Proverbs 16:33, Joshua 7:16-19, Jonah 1:7). You will find that those who used the casting of lots expected the outcome to be God's will (Acts 1:24-26, 1 Samuel 14:41). Because of this, the casting of lots was also a great way of making choices without causing arguments or contention (Proverbs 18:18). So, the people who were chosen by lot in verse 1 were those who God had determined should move to Jerusalem.

It is interesting that this command to move was not given until after the great revival among the Jews had begun. Every Christian who experiences that first surge of spiritual growth obviously finds their great work for God located in the same place where they begin to serve Him. However, we must understand one of the great principles illustrated in our text - our great work for God is not dependent on where we live. Where we live depends on where our work for God is located!

There are many Christians that have got things completely backwards. They decide where they want to live, and then they look for a place to serve God. No, we must base our dwelling place upon the location where God will have us to serve Him. Christian, if you are about to be transferred or lose your job, before you start packing you need to see whether God has changed your work location! Before you start planning for that retirement home, you need to make sure if that is where God wants you to continue serving Him! May this truth find its way into your heart and mind - where your great work for God is located will be where you need to dwell!

Now, if you feel a twinge of unbelief or anger over this doctrine, God may be revealing to you an area of your life that you have yet to surrender to Him. For this doctrine is contrary to our sinful nature which every one of us has inherited from Adam. We need some attitude adjustments in our life from the Holy Spirit to understand how much better it is for us to determine our habitation based on our great work for God. In this lesson we shall look at three attitudes that we need to have about moving to Jerusalem.

I. The Temporal Attitude

First, it is important that we realize just how temporary is the place in which we live (2 Corinthians 4:18). During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews dwelt in booths (temporary shelters) for the entire week. We need to have the same attitude every day of the year that we are dwelling merely in a booth.

A. Certain Destruction

Our houses and lands are temporary because they are all going to be destroyed one day soon. We know that someday yet in the future, "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). The earth that we now live upon is going to be completely destroyed and replaced with a new earth. Not a single building, car, plant, or tree will survive this destruction - they are all temporary!

B. Imminent Departure

Not only are these things doomed for total eradication, but tomorrow the trumpet might blow and Jesus could gather us to Himself. We need to live every day as if today might be the last day we are here. Your residence here is temporary! If you are saved, you are an alien or stranger on this earth (John 18:36; Ephesians 2:1-6; 1 Peter 2:11). You are only sojourning here until Jesus comes to take you away (Hebrews 11:9,13-16; 1 Peter 1:17).

C. Potential Displacement

One final reason for considering your present dwelling to be temporary is because God may choose to relocate you somewhere else. Abraham is such an example for us. He lived most of his life in a tent in the land that God had promised Him. In fact, Stephen tells us that God "gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on" (Acts 7:5). This must have impressed upon Abraham the transitory nature of his stay. Furthermore, if God wanted him to move, it did not take Abraham a lot of effort and he would have no real attachments formed. We may live in a brick home, but we need to have that temporal attitude as if we, like Abraham, were merely living in a tent.

Another great passage that illustrates this fact is found in Numbers 9:15 - 23. The children of Israel encamped when the cloud, the visible presence of God, rested on the tabernacle, and they journeyed when it was taken up. Whether it is two days, a month, or a year, we need to be ever ready to leave our present dwelling and follow the presence of God. We need to keep this temporal attitude so that we keep from forming any permanent attachments with our present location. We need to live as if tomorrow God might call us to live somewhere else.

II. The Duration Attitude

We need to let duration of Eternity thoroughly affect our attitude. James compared our life on this earth as a vapor compared to eternity (James 4:14). If you knew for certain that you were only going to live for one more week in your present abode and then you would spend the next 50 years living in your dream house in your dream location, what would you do for that first week? How much time would you spend fixing and improving your current dwelling? Some people never even unpack their suitcases when they go for a one week vacation. Now, of how much greater duration is eternity compared to our entire lifetime on this earth?

This is not to say that building a house or improving our land is wrong, for certainly God giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Yet, eternity must ever be on our minds and have its proper effect.

If we were temporary beings, then a little time may justly be called a great deal in relation to us; but if we are eternal beings, then the difference of a few years is as nothing.

If we were to suppose three different sorts of rational beings, all of different, but fixed duration, one sort that lived certainly only a month, the other a year, and the third a hundred years. Now if these beings were to meet together, and talk about time, they must talk in a very different language: half an hour to those that were to live but a month, must be a very different thing to what it is to those who live a hundred years. ("A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life", William Law)

We are everlasting beings. What is one day, one year, or even fifty years of earthly pleasures or sorrows compared to an eternity of bliss (see Hebrews 11:24-26)? Oh if we could only grasp the duration of eternity rather than living by sight according to the years of this earthly life. Perhaps this was why Elisha asked Gehazi, "Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?" (2 Kings 5:26). His priorities were based on the duration of eternity!

III. The Privilege Attitude

We might be tempted to feel sorry for those poor Jews who had to uproot their families and move to Jerusalem. That's why we need to get a hold of the privilege attitude. Jerusalem was the best place for these Jews to be and it was a privilege for them to go there. Christian, you can count on this: wherever your Jerusalem is located, it will be the best place for you. We get in trouble when we selfishly feel that we have a right to this thing or we deserve to be in such a place. What a difference when we start to see that it is our privilege to dwell in Jerusalem.

1. Jerusalem is where God's name is

Jerusalem was the city where God chose to put His name. In fact God said, "mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually" (1 Kings 9:3). Jerusalem was the location of God's Temple, His throne, and His Holy Mountain. What a privilege to live in such a place!

2. Jerusalem is where God's blessing is

Naomi had to learn the hard way when her husband took the family out of their Jerusalem and he and their two sons both died in Moab (Ruth 1:3,5). Surely the best place to be is where God wants you to be.

3. Jerusalem is where the rulers live

We saw in our text that Jerusalem was where the rulers dwelt. Wherever your Jerusalem might be, that is where you will find the kind of people that will be a help and an influence for good in your life. In chapter 11 you will find that Jerusalem was where the valiant and the mighty men of valour were. What a privilege to serve God with that group!

4. There is always a worse place

You may not like your present situation, but consider this: there is always somewhere that would be worse! We might realize what a privilege we have if we could see how blessed our situation really is.


If God decides it is time for you to relocate, will it take the casting of lots to get you there or will you willingly offer yourself? Whether young or old, we need to be careful that we maintain the right attitude about moving to Jerusalem.