The leadership and determination of Nehemiah affected the leaders of the people greatly. For his message and example did not produce simply a change of heart, but a change of action. Nehemiah 3 provides a list of the people and their work, spurred on by Nehemiah. Beginning with the work of the priests, led by Eliashib the high priest, and working its way around the city, the detailed record cites the people who participated in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the work they did to restore protection to that great city. Therefore, throughout the chapter, references to “made repairs” and “built” occur with great frequency. As an essential part of the wall, various people are credited with having rebuilt the gates of the city, of which there were many.
The impact of this record lies in a number of areas. For instance, the nature of the listing cannot but emphasize the importance of every one who participated and the great cooperation necessary to complete the effort successfully. Some worked as families, some as neighbors, some as coworkers, and some as individuals. Politicians worked, tradesmen worked, salesmen worked, laborers worked, and women worked. Some people who lived in the country built, some made repairs right next to their own homes. The work repairing the gates was more specialized and required more skill than the work on the wall, but both were essential. Some people did additional work beyond their original assignment (Neh. 3:19-21). Some people had a less than pleasant environment in which to work (Neh. 3:14). However, one group of people chose not to participate (Neh. 3:5), and this the author found worthy of mentioning as well.
The work of any congregation will have similar characteristics to the work the Jews did in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It takes participation and cooperation to have a successful work. It takes people joining hands in various capacities, despite differences in their background and social status. Some aspects of the work will require special skill; much of it will simply require hard work. There will be people who give extra time and energy because they believe in mission of the church, and sadly there will be some who do absolutely nothing. However, as with building the wall of Jerusalem, when we realize that our work in the church is building something special for the Lord, we will want to be part of it, we will do whatever is required, and we will give our all. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).