Nehemiah chapter 2 is about his own return to Jerusalem; it finishes with his rebuke to those who opposed the rebuilding of its walls; these were an Ammonite and an Arab (verse 19), they did not want the Jews to be able to defend themselves. But the Jews set to work – and it was a most remarkable team effort!
In chapter 3 we counted 33 individuals and groups who each did their part in rebuilding sections of the wall, noting the words, “and next to him … and after him”. For example, “Jedaiah … repaired the wall opposite his home” (verse 10), then Shallum, “ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters” (verse 12) – it was an all-out effort with the women helping too! The gates also had to be repaired and put in place (verses 14,15). The priests also were involved (verse 22), no one was exempt. This is the same in building up the “body of Christ”! Nehemiah inspired in them such a will to work that they completed the work 52 days (6:15) despite increasing opposition.
Let’s consider the spiritual counterpart to all this. We do not have a human Nehemiah urging us on, instead we have our Lord Jesus. “He has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). In Hebrews 12 believers are urged to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith …” (verses 1,2).
In Ephesians 2:21,22 believers are building on the foundation the prophets and Apostles laid – and Jesus is the “cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together …” Paul told the Corinthians, “Let each one take care how he builds upon it” (1 Corinthians 3:10) and in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says, “since we belong to the day” and not the darkness of this world, “therefore encourage one another and build one another up” (5:8,11).
Followers of Christ are a team and teamwork is vital. We have no head but Christ (Ephesians 4:15). The example of teamwork we are reading in Nehemiah is an example for true believers of all ages.