I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good [work].
Nehemiah comes to a place where the need is obvious: the walls are in shambles, the gates a scorched ruin. In ancient times, a city without walls was just waiting for someone to come along and plunder it. A walled city had some security.
The thing is, sometimes we can see the need and not be moved to do anything about it. The exiles living in Jerusalem saw the debris that had once been the city walls on a daily basis and did nothing about it. Nehemiah heard about the destruction and wanted to do something about it. He prayed. He took a chance when the chance appeared. And now he speaks to the people who have been living in an insecure place: let’s make this place secure.
Sometimes believers need someone to come along and motivate them. We are well compared to sheep. If none are moving, then we are wont to stand still. But if one begins to move, we take notice. If God is with that one, then some of God’s flock will join in the work. But we need to see that one sheep begin to move at the Shepherd’s direction before we will follow.
There are two dangers in this and one excellent outcome. The first danger is that we will follow someone who seems to be blessed by God and seems to be doing something that sounds right but is not. We need the whole story. Not long ago, there was a guy who predicted the rapture was coming and scores of people followed. Believers who were led astray sold everything and quit their jobs in preparation for a rapture that did not come. All teachers and leaders and people who claim to speak for God must be held to the standard of what God has already said: The Bible. The second danger is that we will see God moving and see others joining the work and consider it and not move. In the first case, we forfeit credibility if we follow a charlatan. If the second case, we forfeit blessing if we fail to move when God prompts us.
The excellent outcome should be apparent: we move and work and are blessed. Blessings come in many forms and I would be remiss if I did not note that blessings can be material (as we are wont to think in modern America) but are more likely to come in spiritual forms like joy and peace and self-control.
What good work is God calling me to? This is the place where I should expend my energies.