Hard Work Is Spiritual Too
In October of 2015, some wonderful friends helped me and my family move from Livonia to Milford, MI. If I looked like I wasn’t doing as much as them, it’s because I wasn’t – because I was already worn out from the “packing & boxing” phase! But as they worked so hard to move our furniture, I can honestly say that the Holy Spirit was present. Sometimes hard work is spiritual too. And that should perhaps be our greatest take-away when we read the book of Nehemiah in the Bible.
The year was 445BC. God had allowed the Jewish people to be exiled to Babylonia for 70 years, because of things they had done not pleasing to Him. But now God was in the process of restoring their nation in preparation for the coming of Messiah Jesus! More specifically, Israel’s Babylonian captors had themselves recently been conquered by the Medo-Persians (in 539BC) and now this new regime had said it was OK to go back to their ancestral homeland and re-build their temple and capital city Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the Temple had been led by Ezra. But after that, they hit a snag. So now, the city itself remained in ruin, because the wall around it had not yet been rebuilt. Enter Nehemiah – God’s man with a “get ‘er done” attitude for the ages.
In the ancient world, the wall of a city was what enabled commerce to take place inside of it. Without a wall around it, homes and merchant-businesses were vulnerable to thieves and raiders! In addition, the gates also served as its “City Hall” – as wide as that wall was thick. This ‘city-gates-entry-way’ had benches where the city elders would meet, shelves where official records were kept, and open space where various gatherings of civic importance took place (see Ruth 4). Translation: No wall, no thriving Jerusalem.
Nehemiah is the story of a man who saw a job that needed to be done, and went out and did it! He successfully led the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. But what is especially significant, is that Nehemiah was not a military leader, or a spell-binding miracle worker, or a super-spiritual prophet. In fact, beyond being a prayerful man, he wasn’t a super-spiritual anything! He was a “nuts and bolts” kind of guy. Did this mean that his contribution was any less significant in God’s eyes than things done by His spiritual heavy-weights in the past? Not hardly. In fact, when the prophet Daniel received his famous “70 Weeks” prophecy from God (much earlier in 539BC) – which predicted events from the conquest of Babylon until the coming of Jesus and the end of the age – God answered that question. God made it a point to predict to Daniel – right in the middle of that amazing narrative – that the city would be rebuilt in times of trouble. In other words, God saw Nehemiah, His “unspiritual” handy man, ahead of time – and gave him equal billing with the other heroes of His plan!
So, the next time someone asks you to help them move, think twice before saying you can’t make it. Who knows? Maybe in God’s eyes, you are actually “rebuilding a wall”.