“So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out.
I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.'”
Nehemiah 4:21-22 ESV
Last time we watched as Nehemiah gave all the rebuilders, spread out along the wall with their different assigned sections, their orders: when the trumpet sounds, come. Today we see how the building proceeded.
I was interested this week in the Nehemiah’s wording as a leader. “So we labored” is we (anachnu) as in we ourselves, including Nehemiah. I think this is important. I was talking with my sister about leadership and she was telling me how soon Millenials will outnumber every other group out there in business, politics, healthcare, non-profit and education. More than Boomers, Gen-Xers and Xennials. And authoritative, commanding leadership styles will not cut it for them. Collaboration and working together is the key to rallying these troops.
Maybe we can learn something from them. Nehemiah certainly included himself in working on the work. But then it turns from we to them. “Half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out.” Nehemiah didn’t hold a spear. And the wording gets a little more complex in the next verse with Nehemiah telling those who lived outside Jerusalem’s walls to stay inside them at night so they and their servants may help keep night watch.
And this looks much more commanding. So let’s back up a tad. Verse 22 uses a time qualifier –eth (appointed time, circumstance). During this time of very real death threats and threat to God’s work being stopped, action was needed. For all the folk who didn’t have a home inside the walls, the need to stay (tavek – in the midst, internally, among) within was crucial. For their safety and all the people’s.
Maybe your mind has been swimming this week like mine: thinking through racial reconciliation and indigenous voices; witnessing our culture see what’s considered “normal” sexual expression lead to a degradation of image bearers; seeing a government impasse and Dreamers’ welfare hang in mid air; and watching women stand up both for life and each other.
Sometimes seeing all the sides and all the work can be debilitating. But a thought I keep coming back to is from this tweet: God’s Kingdom doesn’t require any of us to choose between 2 evils or 2 goods. We simply choose to see Him on His throne and follow His lead. For that we must be watchmen.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
We serve a God of perfect justice. We don’t have to wonder if the One from Whom all things come and through Whom all things are held together has any character flaws. And this powerful and intimate God calls us to obedience. These times, our times, are difficult, but we can watch for the One Who rides on the wings of the wind in Majesty.
Anything He is up to will involve dignity to all. We can know it’s of Him if it smells like service and looks like peace. Giving over winning and integrity over image. As watchmen we can resist what is against His Kingdom advancement because we’re choosing the better that will never be taken from us.
It is our time. Let’s be wise watchmen.