As we come to chapter 3, we come to place where the “rubber meets the road.” Nehemiah developed the burden for the city; he passed that burden on to the people; now it is time to build. It has been said that the hardest part of any task is just getting started. That’s why tomorrow is the favorite day to do everything! Accomplishing anything for God, whether it is through ministry here in the church God has led you to, or in raising a godly family, is a task that requires proper planning. But many Christians never succeed in their plans because they lack the proper planning. It has been said well by others before us in relation to accomplishing any task before you, that if you fail to plan, then plan to fail. What is your plan for yours and your family’s future? We learn from this third chapter of Nehemiah two parts of a successful plan, and we also will see what can hinder that good work.
The first thing we notice is…THE HEAD OF THE PLAN
In every family, organization, job, etc., that has to be someone who is ultimately in charge to have a plan in place. This individual is the one that God has burdened his or her heart for the situation at hand. In our text, Nehemiah is that person. In many ways, what we read here is an example of the New Testament church. We are given a good blueprint for how not only our personal lives, work situation, and families should be run, but also this church.
The first thing we notice is The Responsibility of Nehemiah’s plan. Nehemiah had a responsibility to find a place for everyone to work. If you notice, he assigned many of them to area where they lived. 3:1 – the priest by the sheep gate, which they considered to be holy ground because it was the place that the sacrificial lambs would enter in that they used for the atoning services. By the way – this would be the same reconstructed gate that Jesus, the Lamb of God, would enter the city through! Reminds us that you never know who or what your work will be used for – so do it to the best of your abilities.
Nehemiah also had the task and responsibility to motivate the people to work and fulfill their task. There were a lot of people doing jobs that they never had done before. Many kings, priests, etc who may have never picked up brick laying and carpentry tools in their life and now hammering away at the gates and slopping mortar for the walls. People, whether it is in our families or in the church, are often crippled by fear. It is the job and responsibility of the leader to motivate them to continue on. And the greatest way to motivate is by being a loving example. Think about Nehemiah – he did not scold the people for allowing the walls and gates to get into such poor condition. He wept with them, and took on the responsibility of a construction foreman, a job for which he had no known experience.
Now, we notice The Reason for Nehemiah’s plan. The main Purpose of Nehemiah’s plan was to protect the people. They needed these walls and gates to protect themselves from the enemy that surrounded them. That is the obvious reason here, but lets look at the not so obvious…What it Pictures. These gates represent different aspects of the Christian life. (From Warren Wiersbe):
- Sheep Gate – 3:1 – reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Not only was this the first gate repaired, it is the only gate with no lock, representing that anyone can enter into the gate of salvation through Jesus Christ.
- The Fish Gate – 3:3 – reminds us of Soul Winning and how Jesus has called us to be fisher’s of men.
- The Old Gate – 3:6 – reminds us of God’s unchanging truths, and how we are to seek the Old Paths of the Bible. While the world is always looking for something new, we look to the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- The Valley Gate – 3:13 – reminds us of the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ who left the glories of heaven to take on the form of man to be our sacrificial saviour. The valley’s of life may not be enjoyable, but God often leads us through them for our good and His glory.
- The Dung Gate – 3:14 – Reminds us of the daily cleansing we need from sin as Christians - 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
- The Gate of the Fountain – 3:15 - Is an illustration of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39).
- The Water Gate – 3:26 – This speaks of the Word of God. This is also the 7th gate, and the #7 represents completion in the Bible – the perfect Word of God!
- The Horse Gate – 3:28 – The horse represents war and warfare, which is a reminder to us that the Christian life is a battle, and we have an advisory, the devil.
- The East Gate – 3:29 – Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. This east gate is a reminder to us the Jesus is coming soon.
- The Miphkad Gate – 3:31 – The word Miphkad in the Hebrew means command, assignment. It reminds us that we have a command to live for the Lord and will have to give an account to Him one day.
We need to recognize what gates we have allowed to deteriorate and formulate a spiritual plan to rebuild them once again.