Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem…20 The rest of Israel, of the priests and of the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, each on his own inheritance, (11:1-2, 20).
The people gave their hearty support, blessing those who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. There were some chosen by lot, but a few volunteered.
From NIV Study Bible:
Regarding Verse 2: “In addition to those chosen by lot (v. 1), some volunteered out of a sense of duty. But evidently most preferred to stay in their hometowns.”
Regarding Verse 20: his own inheritance (NIV translates as ancestral property). “Inalienable hereditary possessions — including land, buildings and movable goods — acquired by either conquest or inheritance…”
A few volunteered, but the rest were comfortable, and chose to stay that way, at home. After all, who could blame them? Living in Jerusalem would mean sacrifice, discomfort, along with the added weight of rebuilding and protecting God’s Holy City.
And as I read of those who volunteered, those who freely offered to leave their comfort zone, of course I was reminded of Jesus, the ultimate Volunteer, Who Volunteered for the much weightier assignment, for a sacrifice beyond human ability or comprehension.
He Volunteered to Leave His rightful place, His Own Inheritance in Heaven; His hereditary possession, the place He is served by angels. He Volunteered to Leave, that He would come as a Selfless Servant, to seek out in order to redeem and save fallen mankind. It really is the most unbelievable thing ever.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:45).
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10).
Consider Him Who Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, descending from heaven as the Son of Man.
- “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man,” (John 3:13).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, to give life to the world.
- “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world,” (John 6:33).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, to accomplish the Father’s will.
- “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,” (John 6:38-40).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, to save us from death.
- “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh,” (John 6:50-51).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, to testify to the truth.
- Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice,” (John 18:36-37).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, so that we might become rich.
- For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich, (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, in God’s perfect time, so that we might receive adoption as His children.
- But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons, (Galatians 4:4-5).
- He Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance, emptying Himself of all His rights, to become the humble and obedient bond-servant Who would die on a cross… for us.
- …Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, (Philippians 2:5-8).
How do we respond to Him Who Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance?
As I began my time in Nehemiah 11, I was quite honestly distracted. Distracted with considerations about the demands of my day ahead and with weighty burdens for loved ones. Combined with the lack of sleep that invited self to rear its ugly head, I seriously wondered if I could see Him past my flesh.
But I am so thankful for His patience and longsuffering, and His heart to reveal Himself, even when we feel as though we are in no place to hear or see, when our mind is cluttered, and we are easily diverted and preoccupied.
And somehow, He broke through, as I considered Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance. And as though in one moment, I was immediately reminded… He didn’t have to. The Father gave Him, and He willingly Volunteered. For us. And then there’s this…
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
How can we possibly allow this world to shroud His grace? How can we ever doubt His love, His plans and His care for us? But unfortunately, sometimes, living in this fallen world, we fixate on all that is broken, all that is at enmity against His will.
In those times we must choose to walk in faith, believing He will be faithful to every promise.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31).
I was given some excellent advice while undergoing one of the most trying times in my life. Look for someone to serve. After all, that’s what Jesus did.
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday, (Isaiah 58:10).
As we voluntarily serve others, our gloom over our own situation, the distractions of our demands and burdens will become like midday, when the sun is at its brightest. Because isn’t the Son at His brightest in our own life, when we volunteer to selflessly, and even sacrificially, serve as He did?
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, (1 Peter 2:21).
Today, let us close our time in considering ways we can follow His example, willing to Volunteer, willing to Leave our own places of comfort, for the sake of others.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men,” (Luke 6:35).
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ, (Galatians 6:2).
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, (1 Peter 4:10).
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth, (1 John 3:18).
And oh, let us pray that as we love and serve like Him, He will use our witness to spread the fragrance of our Selfless, Serving Savior, that others would also come to know Him Who Volunteered to Leave His Own Inheritance.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma, (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5).