Inside or Outside?
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
Nehemiah 11:25-36 (NASB)
25 Now as for the villages with their fields, some of the sons of Judah lived in Kiriath-arba and its [a]towns, in Dibon and its [b]towns, and in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 and in Jeshua, in Moladah, and Beth-pelet, 27 and in Hazar-shual, in Beersheba and its towns, 28 and in Ziklag, in Meconah and in its towns, 29 and in En-rimmon, in Zorah, and in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and its fields, Azekah and its towns. So they camped from Beersheba as far as the Valley of Hinnom. 31 The sons of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash and Aija, at Bethel and its towns, 32 at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35 Lod, and Ono, the Valley of Craftsmen. 36 And from the Levites, some divisions in Judah belonged to Benjamin.
Today, as we wrap up chapter eleven, I have to say, this passage was one of my most challenging. This section of Nehemiah tells of all of those who lived outside the city walls, in their own towns and villages. Before Jesus walked the earth, God was only found in the temple, in the holy of holies, to the high priest on the Day of Atonement. The fact that all the people chose to live outside of the city, meant that they chose to live outside of God’s holy presence. Even those who served within the city and in the temple did not live where the holiness of God resided.
Yes, there were many reasons people lived in their own villages and towns, most of which had to do with inheritance, and a place to raise a family. We today have similar reasons why we don’t want to be in the middle of God’s calling. These reasons can be any number of things, such as my kids are too busy in school or sports, or work is crazy right now, or I have other commitments, or that’s just not my time or place. These are all legitimate reasons for not taking steps of faith into God’s calling on our lives.
Whatever the reason, I wonder what would happen if we took a small step into something bigger. What kind of move of God would we see? What changes in our cities and in our towns would occur if we all made a move closer to what God has for us?
Another reason the temple servants and worship leaders lived outside the city, was they needed to make a living by working their fields and lands. Because people neglected their giving, the workers did not get paid, and therefore, they needed to work “outside” jobs to feed their families.
I don’t know if we will ever know how hard our pastors and ministry leaders work. We need to make sure they and their families are cared for in a way they don’t have to take on extra work just to live.
1 Timothy 5:17-18
17 The elders who lead well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
· Take care of and encourage our leaders.
· Be open to where God is calling. Listen to where He will lead and guide.
· Be willing to go when He says to go.
God did in fact give all of Israel to the people. While he called some to specific work in the temple and on the walls, He also gave some to be farmers and tradesmen as well. Encourage those who work outside of the walls. Don’t look down on someone for doing what God has called them to do, even if it does not seem like ministry, it may be exactly where God is using them to further the kingdom.
No matter our role, God is the God who sees, who cares, and who will encourage.
1 Corinthians 7:17
17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this way let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- Where do I choose to “dwell”? Am I close to God, or in my own town or village?
- What mission field is God calling me to?
- In what way can I encourage our leaders today
Take a few minutes and pray for the calling God has placed on your life..