I’ve often thought how awful it would be to be one of those people singled out in the Bible for criticism. How terrible to know that, in God’s most amazing word, our names would forever hold the dreadful truth that we had failed Him!
Nehemiah 3 describes the utterly significant moment in Israel’s history when Nehemiah inspired the returned Jewish exiles to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, so that it would provide the people with that extra degree of protection from their hostile neighbours. How terribly sad that these nobles wouldn’t help! Although not named individually, the ‘nobles of Tekoa’ are described as those who ‘would not put their shoulders to the work’. What a sad indictment!
Generally speaking, Nehemiah Chapter 3 is a wonderful record of God’s people pulling together, both those of high and low status rolling up their sleeves to get the job done. This included Rephaiah, son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repairing a section (Nehemiah 3:9); and Shallum, son of Hallohesh, another ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, doing the same (Nehemiah 3:12). These high-ranking officials didn’t consider it beneath themselves to be included in the work party. And their names bear permanent record of their willingness.
So, what of us today? If we are to be those who truly follow Jesus, we would do well to follow Rephaiah and Shallum’s example, and not that of the Tekoan nobles. Humility may not be a quality much admired in the world of the twenty-first century, but in God’s eternal Kingdom it is always something to be aspired to!
As Paul says in Philippians 2:5-8, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (or used to his own advantage), but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
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