Our Whole Lives Belong to God (Nehemiah 3:1–2) - Radical
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Our Whole Lives Belong to God (Nehemiah 3:1–2)

“Then Eliashib, the high priest rose up with his brothers, the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananeel. And next to him, the men of Jericho built. And next to them, Zaccur, the son of Imri built.”
– Nehemiah 3:1–2

And thus begins a chapter that lists all kinds of different people’s names who work in different ways on rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, and it’s gates, and it’s doors. And it’s really fascinating when you read through it.

It’s not just the preaching of God’s Word that’s glorifying to God, it’s the work that God’s people do, day in and day out.

Now, it can seem not so fascinating. This is one of those chapters in the Bible you see all these different people’s names listed and these places that you don’t even recognize, and you can think, “Okay. What does that have to do with my life?” Well, one it’s really important not just to come to the Bible with the first question centering on yourself, or myself. We come to the Bible saying, “What does this passage teach me about God,” and “What does this passage teach about who we are as people made in the image of God?” And, “What does this passage teach about his purpose?” And, “What does this passage teach about what God is doing in the world, and God’s purpose in my life, and how we need Jesus? How does this passage help me understand who Jesus is and what Jesus has done?”

Reminder that We Glorify God with Our Lives

There’s so many big questions to ask, not just, “What does this have to do with my life, today?” But all you have to come back to, when you read through this, and you see all the different parts that different people played in building these walls, and in what didn’t seem like very spiritual work. They’re building walls and they’re repairing gates. They’re doing this and that. But that’s the beauty of what we see all throughout the Bible, is that it’s all glorifying to God.

So it’s not just the preaching of God’s Word that’s glorifying to God. It’s the work that God’s people do, day in and day out. I wish we had time now just to dive into a theology of work. But I just want to encourage each one of you listening to this, right now. Whatever your day holds, or if you’re listening to this at night, the day ahead holds, in work, in school. Whatever we do, do it with all our heart, Colossians 3 says, because we’re working for the Lord, not for men.

And whether we eat or drink, do whatever we do for the glory of God, that God is glorified in each of our work, whether you’re a pastor like me, or you’re an accountant, or a teacher, or you’re going to school as a student, or you’re… And I could list any number of other jobs. God is glorified in the work that we do, and in each of the parts we play to reflect his goodness in the world around us.

Nehemiah 3:1–2 Teaches Us to Make Disciples

And then, I’ll just take it one more step, in each the parts we play and the mission he’s given to us. The whole mission here was, rebuild these walls for the glory of God in Jerusalem, and among the nations surrounding Jerusalem. And I would just remind us, we’ve been given one mission, all together as a church, in all the different places we work and things we do and gifts we have. We’ve been commissioned to make disciples of all the nations. And so, let’s play each of our parts, today, in that mission, pointing people to Jesus, leading people to Jesus, and praying, and giving, and, as God leads, going where the gospel’s not yet gone.

So, we pray, based on Nehemiah 3, God, help us all to see the significant parts you’ve given us to play in the world, and your mission in the world, through our work, and by the power of your Holy Spirit in us, through the part we have to play in leading people to Jesus. God, help us to faithfully work today, go to school, do whatever we are doing today in ways that bring you glory.

So God, in all the different places we go and people we interact with, we pray that you would help us to adorn the gospel. God, help our lives to be reflection of your love in Jesus. And we pray you’d help us to be bold in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus today. And God, that we would play our parts in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and making disciples in the days ahead, among all the nations.

Nehemiah 3:1–2 Leads Us to Pray for Unreached People

So God, we pray today for Arabic-speaking Algerians, these men and women in Algeria, children in Algeria, 32 million of them, 0.01% followers of Jesus. God, 30-plus million people on a road that leads to eternal suffering if they don’t hear the Good News of the Gospel. So God, we pray, send out workers to Algeria. Bless our brothers and sisters who are working there, indigenous brothers and sisters, missionaries who’ve gone there. Raise up more laborers for that harvest field. So God, we pray that multitudes more people would work there for your glory, for the spread of the Gospel. God, help us all to play our part, significant, unique parts, that you’ve given us to play in the spread of your glory among the nations. We pray this in light of Nehemiah 3:1–2. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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