Nehemiah 7:1-73 - Protecting What God Has Given

Steve Viars September 28, 1996 Nehemiah 7:1-73

- Today we're beginning a new section in our study of the book of Nehemiah.
- As we said last week, chapter 6 concluded with the statement that the wall had been completed in 52 days.
- you might assume that that would pretty much wrap up the book, and that we might read a summary statement like "And they all lived happily ever after."

- but the truth is, there's a lot of material left in this study, and its a lot different than what we've studied so far.
- the fact that that is true, in and of itself, teaches an important lesson....that is, God is not only concerned with our building something, but in our protecting what He has given.
- In a real sense, that’s what chapter 7 is about.
- Nehemiah is moving from the building project itself, to steps that will insure that what has been built will be protected and preserved.

- One of the saddest things that has taken place in Christ's church in the last 100 years is the number of churches, colleges, seminaries, denominations, and publishing houses that at one time believed the Scriptures and faithfully proclaimed the truth that no longer do so.
- Its a tragic thing to listen to groups that used to be fundamental in their beliefs begin to deny key doctrines of the faith.

- Warren Wiersbe said - "Every Christian ministry is one short generation away from destruction, and God's people must be on guard."

- the point is -- the work that Nehemiah is beginning now is every bit as important as the building project we've read about thus far.
- God doesn't want us just to build things---he wants us to work at preserving and protecting them.


- Some NT passages of Scripture that go along with what we're talking about are:

Eph 6:13  - Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

II John 8 - Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.


- so this morning we're talking about "Protecting What God Has Given."


- Read Nehemiah 7:1-7, ("spot-read" 8-65), 66-73

- We believe that Scripture is inspired and is therefore profitable, so even though this is a different kind of chapter, we want to take the time to study it this morning, looking for three principles to help us preserve what God has given.


I. Protecting What God Has Given Requires Godly Leaders

- Its important to note that one of the first things that happens in this section of the story is that Nehemiah chooses key people to lead.

A. Who was chosen.

- According to verse 2, one of the men was his "brother" Hanani.

- INPUT - Where have we heard this name before?
(He was one of the men in chapter 1 who came to tell Nehemiah about the deplorable conditions in Jerusalem to begin with.)

- Whether or not Hanani was Nehemiah's literal brother is a matter that the commentators don't agree on...some point out that the word can be used to describe a Jews' relationship with any other Jew.
- While that’s technically true, there's no obvious reason to take the word to mean anything other than what it normally means, that this man was in fact related to Nehemiah.

- The main issue, though, is that this man has already demonstrated his love for God and God's people by being willing to make the trip from Jerusalem to Babylon to enlist Nehemiah's help.
- He's proven that he's a man who can be trusted.


- the second man who was chosen was named Hananiah.
- it appears that Hanani was made the civil leader of Jerusalem (Nehemiah was governor of the province) while Hananiah was made the military leader over the city's defenses.

B. Why they were chosen.

- the text doesn't give any explanation about Nehemiah's brother Hanani, though if you compare this to what we just talked about from chapter 1, the deduction that he was a faithful and trustworthy man seems very appropriate. (Which may be why Nehemiah did not even mention it here)

- However, for Hananiah, there are reasons given for his selection.
- INPUT - What were they, according to verse 2?

- It is amazing, when you compare the way God selected leaders (or godly people selected leaders), regardless of what period in Bible history you look at, HOW CONSISTENT the criteria for leadership are.

- INPUT - Examples of how God chose someone, or godly people chose someone (or were intrusted to choose someone) using similar criteria to what we are reading in this text?

- David - I Samuel 16:7,  Deacons - Acts 6,  Pastors/Deacons - I Tim. 3
- the point we're making is --- if it important to us to protect what God has given us, the matter of leadership selection is a critical ingredient.

- Wiersbe was right when he said, "Every Christian ministry is one short generation away from destruction, and God's people must be on guard."

- Alexander Hamilton made a similar observation about government:
"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous."


- George Olmstead, (retired army general), made a similar statement about business;
"If our free enterprise system is to prove its superiority...our greatest hope lies in finding and developing young men and women with talents for leadership. Private enterprise can only be as strong as the men and women who run our businesses.  Our future survival depends upon the success of our programs of leadership development-not only in business, but also in all areas of our national life.  This, then, must be our objective.  Our program for leadership development must succeed."

- Now, it is interesting that people in politics and business have made similar observations, but the bottom line is ---- even if progress is never made toward those ideals in secular society, in the church of Jesus Christ we must be giving constant attention to these matters.

- the fact that Nehemiah began the preserving process by carefully selecting key people to lead ought to cause us to ask some very important questions:

1) Am you seeking to develop godliness and character so that you are qualified to lead in various levels of church life?

- God has given some men and women leadership qualities but those qualities are being squandered.
- Raw leadership ability is worthless unless it is being developed in the crucible of a godly life.
- Could you have served as a Hanani or Hananiah if called upon to do so because you had been building habits of faithfulness and godliness?

2) Are you developing a willingness to lead when called upon to do so?

- God's work is done when men and women, at various levels, are willing to be used by taking responsibility for ministry.
- These two men in Nehemiah 7 were willing to not only be well prepared, but willing to bear the weight of ministry when called upon to do so.

3) Are you raising children who can be used in this way in the future if Christ tarries His coming?
- INPUT - How?
4) Are you committed to electing deacons this fall who meet biblical qualifications?

- our deacon election is coming up in a few weeks.
- I'd like to encourage you to pray for this entire process because much of what we are as a church is determined by:

a. men preparing their lives so they are biblically qualified
b. men being willing to serve and minister in this important church office
c. the congregation carefully following biblical guidelines in their selection of leaders.

5) Will you please pray for us as decisions are being made about the school administrator and staff?

(Develop)


II. Protecting What God Has Given Requires An Emphasis on People.

- This is the second chapter (out of 7) that has primarily been a list of people's names, and how they contributed to the project.

- that needs to tell us something about ministry, and especially about this "preserving work" that Nehemiah is moving into.
- James Montgomery Boice divides these names up into eight categories:

A. Who is listed

1. The original leaders - v. 6-7

2. Jews who were laymen - vv. 8-38

3. Priests - vv. 39-42

4. Levites - v. 43

5. Singers - v. 44

6. Gatekeepers - v. 45

7. Temple servants - vv. 46-56

8. Descendants of the servants of Solomon - vv. 57-60.

9. Those whose ancestry was questionable - vv. 61-65.


- if time permitted, there are a number of interesting observations that could be made about these verses and all the names they contain---for sake of time, let's think about:

B. What we can learn from this list.

Warren Wiersbe - "One of the key lessons we can learn from this long chapter is that people are important to God.  When God wanted to take the next step in His great plan of redemption, he called a group of Jews to leave the place of exile and return to their own land.  He gave them encouragement from the prophets and leadership from people who feared God and wanted to honor Him.  The Lord didn't send a band of angels to do the job, He used common people who were willing to risk their futures on the promises of God...This chapter also reminds us that God keeps accounts of His servants.  he knows where we came from, what family we belong to, how much we gave, and how much we did for Him.  When we stand before the Lord, we will have to give an accounting of our lives before we can receive our rewards, and we want to be able to give a good account."

- so a clear emphasis of this chapter is that ministry is not about bricks/mortar---ministry is about people.


- White Board -- contrast ministry that:
1) Uses people to build church...
2) uses church to build people

(Decisions verses disciples/ problems ignored verses problems solved/  unreasonable use of finances verses careful use of finances)

III. Protecting What God Has Given Requires Financial Sacrifice

- verses 66-73

- throughout history, God has ordained that His work be financed by His people.
- we show how concerned we are about protecting what God has given by our generosity.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video