-A census of the first returned exiles and the gifts which were given to the work are listed out for the reader by Nehemiah in this chapter. This happened after the walls were rebuilt, the doors had been set up, and the singers and Levites were appointed. Hanani, Nehemiah’s brother, was put in charge of Jerusalem, and Hananiah was the commander of the fortress. Hanani was described as “a faithful man” and one who “feared God more than many.” These are two great traits for us to consider in any leader. Nehemiah instructed them to not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun was hot in the day. He also maintained that they should be standing guard at all times and to have the doors shut and bolted for protection. Guards were to be appointed only from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they were each to be at their post, each in front of their own house. “Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built. (Nehemiah 7:1-4).”
-Then God put it in Nehemiah’s heart to assemble the nobles, the officials, and the people to be enrolled by their genealogies. This had been a time honored practice among the Hebrew people, and now they were trying to put their family lines back together after the exile as best they could. Nehemiah found the book, which coincides almost identically with Ezra’s listing in Ezra 2, of those who had come up from the province of Babylonian captivity as exiles back into the Promised Land. These are the ones whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had carried away during the time of Jeremiah the prophet and now had come back home, each to his own city. These names include the sons of listings and the men of certain areas. It also lists the priests, the Levites, the singers, the Temple servants, Solomon’s servants, as well as some who could not quite show their fathers’ houses or their descendants to prove they were Israelites. Some of the priests, that were further listed, searched among their ancestral registrations, but they could not be located; “therefore, they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood.” The governor told them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim, which represented the Voice of God for His Divine will. The whole assembly numbered 42,360, but there were 7,337 additional male and female servants and 245 male and female singers. Animal listings are even given in this census, and then the gifts that many gave for the work are credited. When the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were back in their cities living. This would have been the month of Tishri, which would be September/October in our calendar and a month after Elul (Nehemiah 6:15; 7:5-73).
*Application* Just because a work is completed doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be maintained. Vigilance is key in our Christian walk even after the decision to accept Christ’s atonement and forgiveness. Satan will never leave us alone. Even when he knows he has lost our soul to the Kingdom of God, he will still attack and try any way he can to make us ineffective in our walk and service. We, like the people of old in Jerusalem, must constantly stand on guard at each of our houses, both spiritually and physically, in this day and age. We need to be faithful and fearfully respect our LORD. Further, embrace the community we live in and have good records of what is going on for posterity’s sake. Especially consider those who have given above and beyond to make things better in our churches and societies. This cultivates a culture of honor and respect, which we need more of in our world today.
Verses to Memorize: Nehemiah 7:3, 6