The six principles of building from Nehemiah 3
Nehemiah came on the scene approximately 90 years after Zerubbabel brought the first group of exiles out of Babylon. During those years the temple had been rebuilt and worship was re-established. Hostile forces were many, and the city and the temple was left unprotected. Nehemiah’s commission from the Lord and from the king was to rebuild the walls. Building requires vision and planning. The vision God gives must be completed regardless of the cost and sacrifice and opposition that may be encountered. Building requires cooperation, concentration and determination.
Nehemiah means “the comfort of God” or “the consolations of God.” It is taken from a word meaning “to breathe strongly”, “to console.” It is also taken from the word “Jah”, one of the Lord’s names. Putting it all together Nehemiah’s name means, “the consoling breath of the Spirit of God.” Nehemiah became a type of the Holy Spirit in His ministry as one who restores, rebuilds, revives, and protects.
Rebuilding requires research, careful planning, and communication.
Communication comes after the research and the survey of what needs to be done. When Nehemiah had all the facts, he called an assembly. He informed the people, “We are in distress and in reproach.” (Neh. 2:17) Then he says, “Come and let us build.” The people were informed of God’s hand upon Nehemiah for this specific task. He was calling for full cooperation and unity. One of the greatest menaces to revival and rebuilding is the refusal to cooperate with the vision God gave. Nehemiah was able to inspire faith, because the people said, “Let us arise and build.” Impossibilities now became possibilities. He pointed the people away from fear to “Yes, we can.” Sanballat and his friends began to laugh and ridicule and accuse. This is a predictable method of Satanic opposition. Nehemiah told the opposition, “We will build; God will help us.” Nehemiah avoided the fear and the anxiety and the failure syndromes.
The assembling of the people and the work begins.
How do you get such a large group of people working on a project? Chapter three of the book of Nehemiah is more than a list of saints who did the work. It shows that the Lord is interested in people. He cares about people and remembers people by their names. Paul writes, “…every man’s work will be manifested…” (I Corinthians 3:11-13) Here in Nehemiah 3 each saint had work to do. There was no jealousy of another’s assignment. The sections of the wall were divided into 40. There was a group for each section with a delegated authority over them. The greatest phrase is the words, “and next unto him.” This teaches that each person knew where they belonged and where they were to work. Nehemiah prevented chaos, confusion, and demoralization by cooperation, unity, teamwork, and encouragement. Men and women from all walks and levels of life worked as one unit. The list in this chapter teaches volunteerism at its best. Paul teaches, “From whom the whole body fitly framed together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” That is the kind of harmony that brings success. In Nehemiah 3 the saints were declaring, “I’m part of this body. That’s my pastor, that’s my brother and sister. We are members one of another.” Nehemiah made the people feel that each one counted for something. He commended their efforts. He gave them stature and recognition. “We are workers together with God.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) Nehemiah also commended the women who worked along with those who did extra work. (Nehemiah 3:12,27)
SIX PRINCIPLES OF BUILDING
The key is in the translation of the names listed.
First Principle–The Word
Verse 1: The three names here reveal a prophetic statement. Do nothing until you have a word from God. Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Note the three names: Eliashib, meaning “God will restore”; Heah, meaning “a hundred fold”; and Hauaneel, meaning “for God has promised.” The people of the Old Testament knew the importance of names. Nehemiah placed these names at the top of the list, because it made a statement. The Word of the Lord must always be at the top, visible and remembered. Proverbs 20:18 exhorts us that we should never start a project without counsel and a plan. Figuring things out as we go can lead to a lot of confusion. (Jeremiah 29:1-14, Isaiah 45:1-25, Daniel 9:1- 27 tell of the rebuilding promises) Proverbs 11:14 “For want of skillful strategy an army is lost, victory is the fruit of long planning.” (NEB) Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord all that you do, and your plans will be fulfilled.” (NEB)
Second Principle–The Spirit
Verse 2: Next to the Word of God must be the Spirit of God. Three names are mentioned and a prophetic statement is sent forth. Jericho means “to breathe, fragrance,” Zaccur means “to mark, to remember a saying,” and Imri means “force.” A Spirit breathed “rhema” word will help you remember and will empower your project. We are to do nothing until we are endued from on high. It’s the Spirit that helps us plan a project and then empowers us to complete it. (Luke 24:49)
Verse 3: Only one name is mentioned here. Hassanaah means “pointed as a thorn.” Can you find a better description of conviction? Conviction encourages us to action. Conviction is very persuasive and very direct. It brings a response. Nehemiah delivers another prophetic statement: “Never start a project until you are persuaded, and once persuaded be committed to it until it is completed.
Verse 4: Eight names are mentioned, but they are divided into three groups. The first group of three names answers a concern in the people’s heart: “How do we prepare?” Notice the prophetic admonition in these names. Meremoth means “to rise to higher levels,” Urijah means “a flame of God,” and Koz means “a pricking in the heart until completion.” Nehemiah encourages the people to get up into the realm of the Spirit. There a flame from God will burn in their hearts, and they will be able to finish. Prayer helps us to prepare for the Spirit’s flame. (See Acts 1:14, 2:1-4)
The second group of three names answers another concern of the people: “What about our safety, and how will we live?” Here we see concerns about meeting domestic needs. Meshullam means “devoted to God,” Berechiah means “the blessing of God,” and Meshezabeel means “delivered by God; to be safe in body, mind and estate.” In other words, when people devote themselves to the Lord, His blessings will keep them safe in the mental realm, the physical realm, and the realm of property. Matthew 6:33 teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and what we need will be taken care of.
The third group of two names tells us of two ways that people respond and move. One moved in faith, and the other moved in fear. Zadok means “just and righteous,” and Baana means “in affliction.” Faith will work health, and fear will work affliction.
Verse 5-32: The cooperation and the project begin. One name is mentioned in verse 5: Tekoites mean “to thrust out by a blast of a trumpet.” Obedience is a thrusting out. It is action on our part. Mark 16: 20 “They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them.” What a great list of people is seen in Nehemiah chapter 3, working in harmony, side by side. When the meaning of these names are studied, you will see their testimony: “God blessed me,” “God strengthened me,” “God favored me,” etc. You will find in this list of names people from all walks of life: business men, politicians, wood carvers, magicians, dispatch riders, seers, harsh and rugged people, poor people, stingy people, and judges. You will also find some that absolutely refused to participate. At the sound of the trumpet, a cheer went up as Nehemiah shouted, “Let’s do it!”
Nehemiah 6:15: “So the wall was finished.” In 52 days the work was completed. There are many starters but few finishers in the land today. In Deuteronomy 20:19, 20 it teaches that we are to stay committed until a project is finished. Paul says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Jesus said, “I have finished the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) In Matthew 24:14 it says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come.” The word “end” means “the conclusion of a prophetic purpose.” There was an end to the prophetic purpose in the building up of the wall in the days of Nehemiah.
Whenever saints say, “We will arise and build,” the enemy will say, “We will arise and oppose them.” This example in Nehemiah shows that all opposition to the work of God can be overcome. The opposition started with ridicule and laughter and mocking and then proceeded to conspiracy and intrigue. In every project that God initiates you will find warfare. The Lord has given a purpose, i.e. a project, that He wants done. We often go from project to project without ever completing them. I wonder sometimes if churches never grow because of this. When the word of God is clear and when it gives direction as to what the Lord wants of us, the whole church must work together until it is finished.