In our study of Nehemiah chapter seven, we look at the defense of the rebuilt city of Jerusalem and apply the principles to our walk with Christ.
After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed.
We saw the completion of the wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem in chapter six. Now, we see the appointing of those who would guard the city. The "gatekeepers" were the watchmen who would stand on top of the wall looking outside for approaching danger. We see that he did not only appoint the people for the physical safety of the city but also for the spiritual through the singers and the Levites. The destruction of the city had started with the people turning away from the ways of God. This reminds us of how important it is to have ministers who hold firmly to the Word of God for the spiritual security of the people.
I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.
Here, we see the qualification that Nehemiah used for the one that would be put in charge of the city. It was not a college degree or some other type of certificate but it was based on integrity and fear (awe) of God. He was faithful not educated and the same type of qualifications would be well applied to the "churches" today.
I said to them, 'The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.'
The city was to remain closed up tight until it was good and light (less chance of attack). We also see that the responsibility for the defense of the city was spread out to the residents as well. In this same manner, the responsibility for the gospel of Jesus Christ is spread to all who are Christians. Just as these guards protected the city, we are called to hold firmly to the Word of God and not allow public opinion or compromise to slip in and damage the church.
Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:
The people in Jerusalem had worked on the walls and finished the work to protect the city before starting to rebuild their own homes. There were three groups of people that returned to Jerusalem at different times. The first group was led by Zerubbabel; the second by Ezra, and the third by Nehemiah.
These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive ( they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah): The list of the men of Israel:
Now, we are going to see a list of the people of Israel that had returned to the land. We may ask ourselves why it is important and the reason is that it is an encouragement to know that God takes note of us each individually. God knew each and every one of these names just as He knows our names and has written them in the book of life.
the descendants of Parosh 2,172 of Shephatiah 372 of Arah 652 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818 of Elam 1,254 of Zattu 845 of Zaccai 760 of Binnui 648 of Bebai 628 of Azgad 2,322 of Adonikam 667 of Bigvai 2,067 of Adin 655 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98 of Hashum 328 of Bezai 324 of Hariph 112 of Gibeon 95 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188 of Anathoth 128 of Beth Azmaveth 42 of Kirith Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743 of Ramah and Geba 621 of Micmash 122 of Bethel and Ai 123 of the other Nebo 52 of the other Elam 1,254 of Harim 320 of Jericho 345 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721 of Senaah 3,930 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973 of Immer 1,052 of Pashur 1,247 of Harim 1,017 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah) 74 The singers: the descendants of Asaph 148 The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 138 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Sia, Padon, Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Meunim, Nephussim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah and Hatipha the descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, Sophereth, Perida, Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel: the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642 And from among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).
If we are honest, we will probably ask ourselves why God would include this list of people in the Bible. First of all, it is encouraging to know that God knows each and every one of His people by name. The second thing is that we see there are divisions based on their service to God and this is a picture of the judgment of rewards that we see in Revelation. God not only knows who we are but He also knows how we have served Him.
These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
Those that could not trace their family line back to Levi were excluded from the priesthood as that was the tribe set aside by God. Because they were excluded they were not allowed to eat the food that was brought to the temple for the priests. This was to be their fate until a priest could find the will of God by using the Urim and Thummim. Today, all who are in Christ are a part of the priesthood and we have access to the will of God by the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 245 men and women singers. There were 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.
Here, we are given the number of people that returned to the land and we notice that it was significantly less than the total number of Jews.
Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 drachmas of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests. Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 drachmas of gold and 2,000 minas of silver. The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 drachmas of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.
We notice that there was a difference in the giving between the people. We see that the families that had more gave more to the work while those that had less still gave what they could. All of it was put together to pay for the work of the Lord. Today, there are many who sit back and let others fund the work of the kingdom because they do not see how much they have been blessed.
The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns.
So, the people went back to their hometowns.