What was the city of Jerusalem like after the rebuilding of the wall? “The city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt.” (Neh 7:4)
Although the wall was repaired, there were much to do inside the community. The leaders cast lots to bring one out of every ten of the remnants to live in Jerusalem, while the others stayed in their own towns nearby. It was commendable that there were a group of people who volunteered to live in Jerusalem (11:1-2). While some people were asked to go, others went willingly.
There were many faithful servants supporting the city rebuilding work, such as the priests who carried on work for the temple (11:12), the Levites who had charge of the outside work of the house of God (11:16), the gatekeepers who kept watch at the gates (11:19), and many others who served their community with different gifts. The city slowly began to show signs of progress – new homes and new businesses.
Although times were still hard, the citizens decided to dedicate the Wall of Jerusalem and their work to God. Even though it was laborious to build their urban dwellings, they celebrated joyfully with songs of thanksgiving (12:27). “When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.” (12:30) Holiness precedes happiness. As a result, “the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” (12:43) People from afar might not have heard the words of their songs but they certainly could hear the joy of their hearts. Their happiness was not dependent on outward circumstances but inward focus. They were joyful because their eyes were on the Lord and their hearts were clean before God.
In the days of Nehemiah, the people faced many depressing circumstances. Nevertheless, they labored in love and served with gladness. Had their circumstances changed? No. Yet, they had changed. They rejoiced over God’s provision. Have you?