Next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them... 18 After him their brothers carried out repairs (3:2, 18).
The returnees were vulnerable to attacks from their enemies. The walls and gates, left in disrepair, needed significant restoration in order to provide the necessary security and safety. But this was not a project to be undertaken lightly, nor could it be left to happenstance. His Strategy was needed, and it would necessitate all the people working together, following their leader and the plan of action laid out to repair and restore the walls and gates as their first line of defense in warding off their adversaries.
“The account suggests that most of the rebuilding was concerned with the gates, where the enemy’s assaults were always concentrated. Not all of the sections of the walls or buildings in Jerusalem we’re in the same state of disrepair…” NIV Study Bible
And as the work and workers are itemized, two phrases are used repeatedly throughout this chapter: next to him (them); and after him (them).
And these two phrases together are repeated 31 times. And we know, when God repeats Himself, it is not because He is short on words. He is commanding our attention; so, let’s not miss what He has to say.
The phrase that is most often translated as “next to” (also beside) is used 14 times in verses 2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,12 & 19, and is comprised of two Hebrew words.
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
“5921. עַל ʿal: A preposition meaning upon, over, against, by, to, for.”
“3027. יָד yāḏ, יַד אַבְשָׁלוֹם yaḏ ʾaḇšālôm: A feminine noun meaning hand, strength.”
This Hebrew phrase carries the idea of coming alongside of, or next to, another for the purpose of strengthening; it might also be translated as “to strengthen by his hand.”
The other phrase usually translated as “after” (also beyond and next to) is used 17 times in verses 16,17,18,20,21,22,23,34,35,27,29,30 & 31.
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
“310. אַחַר ʾaḥar: A preposition meaning behind, after, afterwards.”
And in this descriptor, we see an arranged order toward one common goal; the goal of repairing the walls and gates the enemy had destroyed.
In order for the repairs to be accomplished, a commitment to unity, order and selflessness for the good of the whole would be required.
At one time I worked for an organization that prided itself on the claim that their workplace environment was established with these objectives in mind. And they incorporated three main ideas that were meant to drive everything we did.
Solidarity: “unity, agreement and mutual support between members of a group arising from common interests, responsibilities, objectives and standards.”
Synergy: “the combined action of a group producing a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects; combined power achieved that is greater than the total power achieved by working separately.”
Selfless Service: “serving that is governed by an attitude concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.”
Reading their vision statement was both promising and encouraging, until I actually got the job and went to work there. I quickly realized, goals on paper are much easier to produce than they are to manifest in real life.
However, this is exactly what we see the Lord doing in His work led by Nehemiah, through His Strategy for Our Security.
Consider His Strategy for Our Security
There is a saying that actually encompasses the three objectives above: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts;” and that is exactly what was happening with these workers under Nehemiah. And truth be told, that is exactly what God expects the body of Christ to strive for.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you, (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV).
His Strategy for Our Security through Solidarity
The workers set their hands to come next to and work alongside each other, in mutual support, in order to strengthen and encourage one another in the restoration work.
His Strategy for Our Security through Synergy
The workers depended upon one another for the common goal. And because they worked together toward one common goal, they experienced His peace and the greater success of the sum of the whole.
His Strategy for Our Security through Selfless Service
The workers put aside their own rank and rights, preferences and comforts in order to serve, for the common goal that all the people would be established in His Security. And as each one worked on their assigned stations, willing to serve in the area they were placed, the walls and gates were restored.
How do we respond to His Strategy for Our Security?
The truth is, His Strategy is easier to read about than to live. But, God has not merely given us words on paper. He has given us His Living Word to impart His very Life and Strategy for Our Security.
And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life… (1 John 5:11-12).
And although the enemy is relentless in his attacks, as we follow God’s provision through His Strategy for Our Security, the enemy will be rendered powerless. But the Lord does not intend that we simply enjoy Him as our safety net. He intends us to be His ambassadors that others would also come to know His Strategy for their Security; because the truth is, …he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life, (1 John 5:12).
- Oh, that we would join Him in His Strategy, that He would unite us in Solidarity, for the sake of the gospel and for the those who need to know His Security.
- What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, (1 John 1:1-3).
- Let us pray that we would commit to the whole over self, with a Synergistic mindset, in dependence upon His Strategy for Our Security, that the world would see His great power working through our combined dedication and united lives.
- “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me,” (John 17:20-23).
- Let us commit to Selfless Service, ready to go and work whenever and wherever He calls, that we would willingly tell everyone of His Strategy for Our Security.
- Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people…” (Isaiah 6:8).
- There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God, (John 1:9-12).
Oh, that we would be a people willing share the true Light of Jesus Christ. May we become His ambassadors in Solidarity, Synergy and Selfless Service, to follow and proclaim the only defense we have against the adversary, His Strategy for Our Security through Christ.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God, (2 Corinthians 5:20).