Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 1: A Heart For The People

…I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant that is left of the captivity there in the province is in great affliction and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” And it came to pass that when I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven… (Neh. 1:1-4)

For 2400 years, we have associated the name of Nehemiah with a project, and justly so. A recent Jerusalem Post article trumpeted the news about the discovery of Nehemiah’s Wall1, strengthening the connection between the man and the wall in the minds of many. Ask even the casual Bible reader what Nehemiah is known for and… well, you know.

However, Nehemiah knew that any noble project is really about people. Projects unite people and call them to something bigger than themselves. Once completed, the finished work should serve their needs and continue to inspire.

Nehemiah’s Wall was a true people project, one that would serve many important purposes for the community. The wall was merely a means to an end; Nehemiah’s concern was for the welfare of the people. Their condition was what he asked about, and their beleaguered status made him weep. The wall was merely a way to restore them and propel them into God’s destiny. Only by building the wall could Nehemiah (and God) set them on the road to renewed prosperity, vision and hope. Nehemiah’s heart was never for the wall in and of itself; his heart was for God’s people and their welfare.

God, as we undertake to build help us to remember that this is a people project more than a building project. Use our hearts and our hands to build something that will bless and serve the people of God and the entire region for many generations to come.

1 Jerusalem Post article; accessed August 20, 2008.

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