Your Servants Who Delight to Revere Your Name
The natural man desires to make a name for himself. He aspires to build cities and towers, in order to have his name be exalted far above the names of others (Gen 11). Every labor and skill is pursued in order to claim superiority in this competition (Eccl 4:4). Preoccupied with their prerogative to be like gods (Gen 3:5), sinners have no reverence for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15).
God’s chosen people are commanded to fear God and keep His commandments (Lev 25:17; Eccl 12:13). It is God’s Spirit who causes God’s elect to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:27). The Law of God was summarized by Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37–39).’”
God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and in love, God sent His only begotten Son to demonstrate God’s love toward His church (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; Eph 5:25). That act was displayed publicly when Jesus laid down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11, 15; Rom 3:25; Gal 3:1), the people of God’s pasture (Ps 79:13; 95:7; 100:3), whom He chose to be His people before the foundation of the world (Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4–5; 1 Pet 2:9).
As God’s elect are brought into the covenant of grace, whereby God performs all that is necessary for their salvation, the life of God manifests in them. Christ is our life (Col 3:4), and He has given us His Spirit, who causes all the elect, redeemed to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). This means their dead souls are made alive and the life they now live is by faith in the Son of God, who loved each of His own and gave Himself for them (Gal 2:20).
The ones made alive to God (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), who also made us adequate as servants of the new covenant (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 3:6), now serve as witnesses to the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). He has done great things and the world should know.
God gave success to the man he raised up in the Babylonian captivity whose name was Nehemiah (Neh 1:11; 2:20). In God’s predetermined plan to raise up types of Christ, in order to illustrate His grand design, He laid a burden upon the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. Rebuilding had begun in 520–516 B.C. with Zerubbabel leading exiles home to Jerusalem to reconstruct the Temple, which had been destroyed in 586 B.C. by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
Jerusalem, the city of God, was unpopulated in part because it was unprotected. The walls and gates lay in ruins. Here was the burden of the Lord imparted to Nehemiah, son of Hacaliah, at Susa. The Temple had been rebuilt, but the walls and gates of the Jerusalem needed reconstruction.
Cupbearers in other countries are not the practical first choice to lead a major civic building project 800 miles away. As with other unlikely servants of the Lord, recorded on the pages of the Bible, God simply chose the man He would use to glorify Himself. In choosing the unlikely ones, God ensures that those who hear the tales of impossible accomplishments will acknowledge that it is all God and not the chosen servant or people.
From cupbearer to wall builder, Nehemiah’s recognizable character quality was one who delighted to revere the name of God…Yahweh. Yahweh is the covenant God of Israel who has made promises that He keeps and will keep until they are all fulfilled at the end of history.
In sharing the burden of the Lord with the Jews at Jerusalem, Nehemiah and others would labor for the sake of Yahweh’s name that the city of God would play its part on the world stage. Over the next four centuries, Jerusalem would prepare to play host to the architect, builder, and sustainer of all things…Jesus Messiah (Heb 1:3; 3:4; 11:10).
The prophets foretold of Messiah's coming, and every type of Christ in Israel's history was foreshadowing who the holy nation was looking for and what He would accomplish for His people. Nehemiah confessed that he, his family, and all the people were not fearing God in the manner worthy of their calling to be the people called by Yahweh’s name.
Despite morale problems with the Jews because of unscrupulous financial practices of some (Neh 5), and despite hostilities by representative leaders of surrounding nations to Israel (e. g. Sanballat; Tobiah; Gesham), Nehemiah directed the wall construction, and it was completed in a mere 52 days! This, of course, was the good hand of Yahweh making His own burden become a reality through His chosen servant (Neh 2:8; 18). What had failed to take place in the previous 140 years was completed in less than 2 months in God’s wisdom, power, and timing.
Nehemiah’s God-given success should not become a man-centered leadership model, as so many have put forth in books and commentaries (e. g. Charles Swindoll; James Montgomery Boice; J. I. Packer; etc.). Rather, Nehemiah’s memoirs should point us to Jesus Christ, who is the one and only Leader of His church (Mt 23:10; Col 1:18), the Israel of God (Is 49:1–6; Gal 6:16).
Those who revere the name of our Lord Jesus Christ without shame, delight to do so. Jesus has the name above every other name (Eph 1:20; Phil 2:9) because of His success in building up the New Jerusalem (Rev 21–22), the eternal city of God, which the Apostle Paul called, “our mother” (Gal 4:26). This is the city that Jesus has gone to prepare for His people who are called by His Name (Jn 14:2–3), and who are being gathered from every nation, tribe, and tongue in every generation (Rev 5:9; 7:9). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit that compels us to boast in Christ Jesus, alone, because whatever is accomplished for the glory of the kingdom of God is His work and whatever remains to be done…He will do it (Ps 37:5).
My dear reader, let our prayers be that God would be glorified in every God-given burden for us to bear witness — that it is not us securing any achievement or performing any good work. Our boast is exclusively in Christ (1 Cor 1:29–31; Rom 15:17–18); and may the boast of our very boast be that He has caused us to delight in revering His holy name…for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard from God’s holy Word.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 16, 2022