At first glance, Nehemiah’s rebuilding project of the walls of Jerusalem can seem quite…well…unspiritual. Is it all about brick and mortar? Is the purpose strictly practical and militaristic? Are the walls being rebuilt merely to keep the city safe from enemy attack? I think not.
The clue to the deeper motivation behind Nehemiah’s project, and therefore, wider application to today, is found in Nehemiah’s prayer in 1:8-9: “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying,‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”
Here we have the primary purpose for the rebuilding of the city’s ruined walls: God has chosen this city to be a dwelling for God’s Name. That is, Jerusalem was supposed to be a place where God’s glory shines forth in a unique way. A place set apart as Holy to the Lord. The broken down walls were not merely a safety issue for the inhabitants; it was an affront to the Holy God who desires to make the city His dwelling place.
How does this relate to us today? Well, God no longer dwells in a temple made by human hands, but has chosen to dwell in human temples — namely, the community of believers called the church. God no longer resides uniquely in a small geographical region in the middle east called Jerusalem; His presence now dwells all across the globe as the church brings the gospel to more and more places.
Yet, just as the Holy City in Nehemiah’s day was in a state of disgrace (2:17), so our churches today can lose our saltiness or hide our light under a bowl (Matt. 5:13-16), forsake our calling to make disciples (Matt. 28), and even have our lamp stand removed (Rev. 2:5). When and where such a tragedy occurs, God will raise up modern day Nehemiah’s to rebuild God’s church, to plant new churches, to revive old churches, to raise up communities where God’s Name can dwell.
MainStreet Covenant Church is attempting to build up a new church in Mound. Why? Well, just as chapter 3 of Nehemiah details the repairs and construction of the many gates whereby people entered into the Holy City, so MainStreet is putting various ministries into place whereby people might enter into the presence of the Christ who dwells among us. Gateways are an apt metaphor for all the teams of volunteers needed to launch a new church. Whether worship ministry, hospitality ministry, LifeGroups or community outreach efforts, they all serve as possible gateways for seeking people to enter into relationships with God’s people and most importantly God himself.
Here’s some of the MainStreet gateways in the image below:
CLICK HERE for Bible Study for Nehemiah Chapter 4.