July 22, 2018
Nehemiah Part 7: Gatekeepers
Tribe Recap July 22, 2018 | Nehemiah 5 & 7
Before the wall could be finished there was an outcry of injustice within the ranks of God’s people. The Jews in Nehemiah 5 were a team on a mission but they were also divided by how they took care of each other. The poor were borrowing money from the rich in order to live during the famine in which they built the wall.
The rich were charging interest and getting richer. Meanwhile Nehemiah was not even taking the allowance due him as their governor and went so far as to feed hundreds of people each day from what he had. He was a leader who knew how to take care of people, but the people were hard on each other.
It is almost impossible for God’s people to be successful if they are holding things against each other – even that which is rightfully owed. Isn’t it true that we owed God an eternity in hell for the sake of our sins and yet he paid our debts that we might be free? How can we hold what another person has done to us against them?
These days, Christians don’t necessarily charge interest on loans but they often charge interest on emotional debts. “So and so did this to me, and it wasn’t right! I’ll forgive them but I’m not going have anything to do with them! And if anyone wants to know I’ll be the first to tell them to steer clear!” Sound familiar? Or maybe it’s just the withholding of our favor or even a generic unfriendliness to those we think ‘don’t deserve it.’
The reality is that such things ought not to be done. We need to set each other free of emotional interest so that we are free to build God’s Kingdom, because our presence on the earth is more profound than we could ever guess.
During the 70-year exile while the people of God were MIA, destructive mindsets and religious traditions rose up including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Zoroastrianism, Vedantic Hinduism, Jainism, and Greek Rationalism. These filled the void left behind by the people of God when they left. Incredible isn’t it! We don’t have to be perfect but it does help to be present!
God would have saved Sodom with only 10 believers. Our presence matters and our freedom to thrive gives us the power to finish the walls of God’s presence and habitation. We need to stay and we need to stand even during hard times (see Eph 6:10-14).
For the city of God’s people to stand during opposition we need gatekeepers. In chapter 7, Nehemiah assigned gatekeepers who lived across the street from the gates they were assigned to. Households and families became the gatekeepers of Jerusalem. The word Gatekeeper comes from a word that means, janitor, doorkeeper, or porter; gatekeeper also means to estimate or think.
In other words, a gatekeeper is a person or household in God’s family who is willing to keep the city clean of darkness by correctly estimating or judging what needs to come in and what needs to stay out. They are protectors, warriors and servants that are full of wisdom. Most importantly of all, they have estimated God himself and they have found him worthy to be trusted. God’s people need gatekeepers. Are you one of these?
As we refuse to charge each other emotional interest we take away the cry that goes up before God’s throne, allowing us to thrive and complete the work God has given us to do. Our presence on the land is a foothold of God’s influence and as we stand our watch on the gates, we proclaim our dependence on a Father-God who will never allow his people to be moved (Psalm 46:5).