Jerusalem used to be the dwelling place of kings but it had few dwellings when the wall was down. Now Nehemiah intends to populate the town again.
We can’t say there was no one living in the town before the wall was repaired but it was nothing compared to what it had been. In the list of people rebuilding the wall, five men plus the priests had houses in the city and they built on the section of the wall opposite or near their houses.
Jerusalem was still a city of commerce with the wall down. Merchants helped rebuild the wall along with goldsmiths and at least one perfumer. Trade was more dangerous without the walls but it still took place.
The walls have been restored and the people have recommitted themselves to following the Lord. Now it’s time to repopulate the city. This was not done on a volunteer basis. The first people to be inducted into city life were the leaders. Jerusalem was going to be the seat of power again for the people of Judah so their leaders should be located there. But there was still a LOT of room that needed to be occupied.
Priests and Levites were certainly needed as the Temple was back in operation too but not all of them needed to be based in Jerusalem. Some would be in the cities throughout the land to serve the people. But there was still more room.
Merchants would find it more convenient if they lived near where they sold their wares. No more traveling to and from the marketplace. Stores could now be set up in safety. And with them came their families. But there is STILL more room.
So how do they fill the city? By drawing lots. One out of every ten men were chosen to live in the city of Jerusalem. That is 1/10th of the tribe of Judah and 1/10th the tribe of Benjamin. And possibly 1/10th the remaining tribe of Levi. Everyone else would return to their ancestral homes throughout Judah.
The men in Jerusalem are also reported to be “valiant men” and “men of valor.” Was this because they volunteered to stay? Was it because the men who stayed were trained as warriors? Were they already strong and brave men and God directed the lot to fall on them? However they got there, they were now the protectors of the city too. The count of the men was at least 3,044. Not all of these were warriors but they were the new inhabitants of Jerusalem; they and their families.
I wonder if it was an honor to be chosen or if it was a hardship to lose their place on their own inheritance. Did they rotate turns with others of their clans? We are told that the singers had provisions from the king. Did the other servants have such provisions? Did the officials? Did the men who were chosen by lot to live in the city receive provisions from somewhere? What did city life look like now? Did God cause the lot to fall on those who could afford to dwell in a city? What was the role of those who were chosen to stay?
While I was thinking about the men who had their lives changed by the lot I was reminded of another group of men who were chosen and had their lives turned upside down. These men were Jesus’ disciples. The twelve that Jesus specifically chose would never be the same again after that moment. But they were not the least bit reluctant to accept His choice. They were honored. Others would follow Jesus from town to town but none of them would be as close to Him as these twelve men. Their lives were never the same from the moment that Jesus called them by name. And the changes didn’t end that day. One of the biggest changes came the day they saw Jesus rising back to His Father. They had to learn to live with Him in a new way. And they kept learning up until the moment of their deaths.
God calls to special, and sometimes not so special, roles in His Kingdom. Sometimes that role is as pastor or teacher or evangelist. Sometimes that role is janitor or greeter or nursery worker. EVERY TASK IS IMPORTANT. You might not be ‘living in the land of your inheritance’ but where He has placed you is vital to His plan. You may not see it but He does. Serve, wherever you are, with ALL your heart. Be content and do the best you can do where you are until He moves you. Remember the story of the talents. The ones who were faithful were trusted with more. The one who wasn’t lost even the little he had.
Father God, thank You for all the different places You allowed me to serve in Your Kingdom. From the nursery worker to the worship group member to sitting here and sharing my heart. I want to be used by You to touch lives. Even if it is as simple as sharing a smile with someone who needs one. Help me be sensitive to the leading of Your Spirit. I know that You will supply whatever ‘tools’ I need when I need them. Forgive me for the times I miss that urging and please send someone else who won’t have stopped up ears. For the man on the street corner tonight with the sign for gas. Meet his need Father and show him Your love in it.