So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Nehemiah before Jerusalem, the earnest patriot prophet before the city of God, lying waste and exposed, suggests to us -
I. THE PRESENCE OF A GREAT WORK AWAITING US. "So I came to Jerusalem" (ver. 11). There are to-day many Churches, societies, interests, more or less dear to God, which are "in distress" (ver. 17), urgently needing restoration and defence, that they be not open to attack, and that they may" be no more a reproach" (ver. 17) to the people of God. Our work, like that of Nehemiah before Jerusalem, may be great, inasmuch as
(1) it will be costly, demanding time and treasure;
(2) it will be delicate and difficult, requiring the co-operation of men of many minds and various interests;
(3) it will have large issues, the end being either a sad and humiliating collapse or a noble and useful triumph. The steps which Nehemiah took to carry out his great project suggest points in a -
II. WISE PROCEDURE IN OUR WORK. The first and very essential point is -
1. Full consideration, in private before making proposals in public. Nehemiah "was there three days (ver. 11) before taking action. Instead of illustrating the maxim, "More haste, worse speed," he acted on another and better one, "Quickly enough if well enough;" indeed, on another and better still, "He that believeth shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16). After waiting three days at Jerusalem, he made a very careful inspection of the city, going all round and examining it thoroughly (vers. 12-15). He "went out by night" (ver. 13), in order that he might be the more unobserved, and he took care that "the rulers knew not whither he went, or what he did" (ver. 16); nor did he tell any one, priest, ruler, noble, or workman (ver. 16), what he was about. First he took, as we should, "counsel with himself;" he examined searchingly, considered fully, went into and went round the matter in his own mind. A little time spent in earnest, devout meditation beforehand will often save an "age of care," and a "world of trouble" afterwards. Then Nehemiah spake.
2. Free consultation before other action. "Then said I unto them," etc. (ver. 17). Evidently he made a full statement to them "in public meeting assembled." He called them together, no doubt using the king's commission. He took counsel with the leaders (those specified in ver. 16). Consultation is wise, just, with a view to co-operation. It
(a) conciliates those whose goodwill we need. Men do not like to be treated as if their judgment were worthless and their consent unnecessary.
(b) Brings out valuable suggestions. The wisest man overlooks some things, and they who devote all their powers to particular industries, obtain a knowledge and can furnish help in council in matters relating to their own department which others cannot contribute.
3. Forcible presentation of motives. Nehemiah laid the whole case before them, and appealed to ?
(a) The urgency of their need: the distress they were in; Jerusalem waste; the gates burnt (ver. 17).
(b) The sign of God's favour resting upon them. "The hand of my God which was good upon me" (ver. 18).
(c) The encouragement they had from man as well as God. "The king's words" (ver. 18).
(d) The need there was to regain the honour they had lost among the nations. "That we be no more a reproach."
(2) God's manifest presence,
(3) available human help,
(4) our reputation (and therein the repute of God's work), will often be leading motives with us.
We should omit none that can be brought, for all are helpful, and one will avail with one man, and another with another.
4. Energetic resolution. "They said, Let us arise and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work" (ver. 18). Zest at the commencement is not everything, but it is much. It is vastly better than contention or cold-heartedness. Let us gird ourselves to the fight with energy of soul, and the battle is half won already.
5. Disregard of ridicule (vers. 19, 20). Zeal is deaf to sarcasm; it brushes aside the spears of scorn; it turns the idlers out of the field. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.