By Norman E. Sewell
“So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto half the height thereof for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6).
The book of Ezra describes the return of the people of Israel from Babylonian captivity, first under Zerubbabel (in the first year of Cyrus the great, King of Persia, about B.C. 538), and was continued and more or less concluded under Ezra (in the seventh year of Artaxerxes-Kenosh Longimanus, in B.C. 458). During this period of time the temple was rebuilt.
The activities of Nehemiah began in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, and continued through about his 32nd or 33rd year. It was during this time that the walls of the city of Jerusalem were rebuilt. Beginning with the 3rd chapter of Nehemiah is the description of the rebuilding of the gates, and of the walls of the city. The wall was finally finished as reported in chapter 6, verse 15. It surely was a monumental job to rebuild the walls of a great city, yet Nehemiah indicates that it was accomplished in 52 days. The reason for this great accomplishment is to be found in the statement, “the people had a mind to work.” It was important to them, they could clearly see the need, so they set out to do that which needed to be done. And, they built the wall.
There is a lesson in this for the people of God today. We can do all that God desires of us today if we will but recognize the importance of the work and the need to be personally involved in doing it. Just as Nehemiah and a few of the people could not have completed the wall in the required time, neither can just a few of God’s people do all the work to be done in the time that we have. We each need to have “a mind to work.” You hear people today talking about how hard they have to work, and sometimes making fun of others who do not like to work, but you do not very often find that person doing any work for the Lord. The secret was in the hearts of the people. Not that the people of Israel were always of such a mind,but at this particular time they were. On another occasion, after Moses had received instructions from God about building the Tabernacle, and how that the people were to give all sorts of things to be used in the building of it, the people were of such a mind to give that they had to be restrained. The attitude of the people was described as, “every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing” (Exodus 35:21). They were of such a mind to give so freely that they had to be stopped because they were giving too much (Exodus 36:5-7).
Let us each have a mind to work. Surely there is work for all of us to do. There are sick to be visited, the poor and needy to be helped, and the lost to be taught and saved. This is work that we all can participate in. We can each visit the sick, we can each offer a helping hand to someone less fortunate, and we can talk to a friend or neighbor about his or her soul. Even if you cannot teach them, you can start the ball rolling; get the teacher and the student together. And let us not be afraid but recognize that AI can do all things in him that strengtheneth me@ (Phil. 4:13).
Truth Magazine, XVIII:49, p. 6
October 17, 1974