It was a privilege for the returning exiles to do their part in resettling Jerusalem, yet it also involved suffering and danger. Many of the leaders lived in the city, but their numbers alone were insufficient to satisfy the needs of a secure repopulating of this important location. The community needed to cast lots in order to identify those who would leave safer and more agreeable locations in order work for the kingdom according to God’s call upon their lives.
“The people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.” How willing were they? Did they become willing after the casting of lots or before? Others would be able to live on in their own properties in the towns to the north and the south of Jerusalem, but these chosen ones who would serve in the city would be called upon to be especially valiant for the Lord. They would be a band of brothers in a difficult mission. They were mainly from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. Some of the names of their leaders were recorded in this chapter.
The settlers in the great city needed to serve under a chain of command that ultimately led to the king of Persia. There was no son of David reigning in Jerusalem. The people had assigned tasks that required faithfulness. God chose them for this service in a time when the Jewish people were slaves of the Persian empire. They lived in the world of Persian dominance, but as they built up the city of God, they also knew that they were citizens of another world where God was King over all.
We live in a different era than the people of God in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. Jesus is our King. He told His disciples that He would build His church. The church is a worldwide gathering of worshipers. It is the new city of God. We have been chosen to live in the world but we are not of the world. We are citizens of the Jerusalem that is above.
We are greatly blessed to have a King from among the sons of David. He is also the one who will come again to judge the living and the dead. We serve the risen Lord of life in the midst of a dangerous world of death. We have been chosen for this service. It is a privilege, but it is also difficult. We need to live with integrity as the Lord’s servants in a world of serious trials and opportunities. We have been called to do what we can to serve the Lord well despite the challenges of the present hour.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious Lord, we long to live in Your holy city forever. Teach us to love Your church in all of her brokenness. We know that she is strongly connected to the glorious city to come. If we would be with You there where the streets are paved with gold, help us to be willing to associate our names with the place where Christ is preached now. We are united together in Your family of grace and truth. Must it yet be that Your church will still remain a place of failure and sin? Father, we are in this world in an age of waiting, but we are not of the world. We long for the age to come. Teach us the joy of hope so that we will love the weak and gladly receive that friendship from others which is a generous expression of Your care for each of us.