The golden days of laboring together on the walls of the city were over, and now, the people had to move to the every day grind of life. When hand joined in hand, it was hard work, but the sense of community was invigorating. Now the work of daily discipline began. The highlights of celebration would be fading memories.
All the people living in Jerusalem began to fulfill the role to which they had been called. If the city were to survive, it would have to be inhabited by people. However, since the city had been in such disrepair for decades, the population had dwindled to a dismal level. Now, people would be asked to move from their homes in outlying towns and villages, to occupy the city of Jerusalem.
One by one, families volunteered to move their homes and their livelihood within the walls of the great city. Abandoning the land of their fathers, and even of their own financial stability, the volunteers filed into their new life style as citizens of the great city of Jerusalem.
In a culture that thrived on the cohesion of the family unit, this move would have been heart-breaking. Villages that were inhabited by several generations of family members were being asked to send away some of those family members so that the newly built walls could be inhabited.
Although this seemed like one of the most difficult tasks, people willingly sacrificed themselves to the necessity. They viewed themselves as part of something greater than their own families.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus spoke of a similar sacrifice that His followers would have to make, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” With these stiff words, Christ expressed to His disciples the same priority set that Nehemiah was looking for in the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
People had to view their calling as more valuable than their physical relationships. The temporal must take the back seat to the eternal. It was not a call to neglect family, rather, it was a call to put family in the right place on the priority list. And just as the inhabitants of Jerusalem saw the rebuilding of Jerusalem as a higher priority than their own financial success, we too are called to view the desires of God as greater than our own endeavors.
Food for Thought: Read 1 Timothy 5:8. How does this verse differ from what Christ calls us to in Luke 14?