Jerusalem had experienced physical restoration through the reconstruction of the city walls (chapters 1-6). God’s people had experienced spiritual restoration through the reading of the Law, prayer, fasting, and the confession of sin (chapters 8-10). The city had been restored, but now it needed to be inhabited in order to be adequately secured and maintained.
The point of tension, however, was that most people preferred to live in the smaller towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem than inside the city walls. Life in the ‘burbs was familiar and moving to Jerusalem meant a new environment and change of lifestyle. Understandably, there didn’t seem to be too many people volunteering as tribute.
But inhabiting the city was high on the priority list, so lots were cast and 10% of the people were chosen to make the move. Through our individualistic western lenses that seems unfair, doesn’t it? As one who has made a relatively significant move in the last year, that’s not a small ask.
But notice the response of those chosen: And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem (v. 2). The lot fell on them and, rather than arguing, appealing, fighting, protesting, and rebelling, they submitted to the seemingly random draw as God’s providential plan for their lives.
What if God’s people today–the church–had the same response as God’s people did in Nehemiah 11? Convicting, isn’t it? It is for me–and it should be for you as well. The reality is that living in obedience to the Lord requires us to repeatedly die to self–to regularly lay down our own comforts, desires, and preferences for God’s glory, the good of others, and ultimately–believe it or not–our own joy.
Where is the Lord calling you to die to yourself today?