Nehemiah: Day 4

We Began Rebuilding the Walls


Today's Text: Nehemiah 3:1-32, Romans 12:3-8, Psalm 8:1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3:1-32, Romans 12:3-8, Psalm 8:1

Summer 2017 was a doozy for hurricanes. We could hardly flip on the television or open Twitter without seeing brutal images of destruction, people desperate for power and food, and endless press conferences from emergency officials. In Houston and Florida and Puerto Rico—the storms came in vicious waves.

When the storms stopped, aid rushed in from all corners. The money came from donors big and small, celebrities and ordinary people alike. Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt raised millions of dollars for recovery in Houston. Celebrity chef José Andrés and his non-profit cooked more than three million meals for people without power in Puerto Rico. Alongside many of his famous friends, Lin-Manuel Miranda—creator and star of the Broadway musical Hamilton—recorded a song for Puerto Rico and dedicated the profits to relief efforts.

Houston and Puerto Rico are still recovering, and it will take decades to rebuild them both. I don’t want to assume the efforts of these varied groups of people allow us to tie these devastating events up with a pretty bow, or draw moralistic and clichéd conclusions about how disasters bring people together. These aren’t joyful barn raisings; they are the direct result of tragedy.

We see the same in the book of Nehemiah. Jerusalem was burned and pillaged by the Babylonians. God’s people had repeatedly turned away from Him, and they were displaced, their homes destroyed. But when the time came to return and rebuild, a diverse group of people banded together to do the work.

In Nehemiah 3, the author records at least 43 distinct groups or named persons who rebuilt the gates and the walls around Jerusalem. They were all types of people: the high priest Eliashib (v.1); the Tekoites (v.5); the daughters of Shallum, who was the son of the ruler of half of Jerusalem (v.12); Hashabiah, who was the ruler of his own district (v.17); temple servants (v.26); goldsmiths and merchants (v.31).

They were rulers and servants, men and women, tradesmen and priests. The work knew no distinction between rich and poor, the same way the tragedy of the exile touched every person in Israel and Judah. Tragedies flatten. They knock down walls and homes indiscriminately, across class, race, gender, and age. And when it comes time to rebuild, the work falls on everyone as well.

Nehemiah 3 is a story, not just a list of who did what while rebuilding the gates. It’s a story of a broken people finding their way home again, and then laying aside titles, traditional roles, and expectations to build the walls around their city. Not unlike the body of Christ the apostle Paul describes in Romans 12, those who rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls worked as one body with many parts (v.4).

And while Nehemiah 3 isn’t really our story, one of the beautiful gifts of the gospel is that it is for everyone. We are all flattened by sin, by the tragedy of the fall. But rather than each of us doing the hard, back-breaking work of redeeming and rebuilding our own hearts, our story has a different ending. No matter how hard we work, whether individually or together, we cannot fix sin. Instead, we all have to rely on the power and work of one person alone: Jesus Christ.

 Thanks be to God!


Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

  • Kesha Fortson

    Sadly, a lot of times it takes tragedies for us as people, rich and poor, black and white, etc.. to come together. Sin has broken and separated us. Christ is our only hope.

  • Terrie Fulk

    I hit send before I had finished my thought…whoever we are, whatever our talents and/or our station. We need to come together in tragedy, to help lighten the load on everyone.

  • Terrie Fulk

    As I read the responses to this reading there is one common thread; we must come together

  • Soraya DosSantos

    This was absolutely lovely! Through God’s grace we are so connected and with his grace we can rebuild…all for his glory! Very powerful!!!!

  • Vanessa Pardi

    I just love how everyone did their portion of the wall. Sometimes we think that doing our “small” part won’t make a difference, so why bother. This is not the attitude God wants us to have. We should all be obedient and do our respective parts. God takes care of the whole.

  • Kate Zimmerman

    So many of the people made repairs “each opposite his own house.” Our current location is our mission field! And we aren’t called to fix the whole wall, but to rebuild the area in front of us.

    • Abby Frye

      Amen!! So many times people think that mission has to take place hundreds of miles away from where you live, when in reality, Jesus simple commanded us to “Go”!

    • Kelly Rathbun

      I love that point of view! Our communities need the help every day as well as the areas that need rebuilding after tragedy!

    • Hannah Lashbrook

      Kate, I love that observation!

    • Jennifer Lester

      That’s a great way to put it – and make it feel so much less daunting.

  • When doing these studies, I always read the scriptures before the devotionals. When reading, I was really tempted to just skim and be like “everybody and their mama was making repairs”. Once I read the actual lesson, I realized the importance of making sure to mention everyone. I love how even in such a divisive time, everyone was willing to put aside their differences and come together to rebuild. This is such a relevant lesson for us today! I also loved the devotional in the SRT Bible. It mentioned how Shallum (the guy who repaired the pool) was doing a small job that would lead to a God sized miracle. In John 9, Jesus comes to that same pool that Shallum fixed to heal a man blind from birth. That shows that even though sometimes we just don’t see the point in what we are doing, God has a plan and purpose that can way outlive us. It also shows how our actions can affect others, even those we don’t know, for hundreds of years. How awesome and amazing is our God?

    • Brittney Noelle

      A belly laugh escaped me on the “everybody and their mama was making repairs.” But dang, the mention of the pool floored me.

      I also love the mentions of things in scripture, in vs 5 of Nehemiah chapter 3 “Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors”
      Go down a little further in vs 20 “Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the priest.”
      Though these verses may seem unimportant to most, but I got some leadership nuggets from this. The men that were used to leading didn’t know how to follow and the person who probably wasn’t a leader at all did more than what was required of him with zeal or enthusiastic diligence. Sometimes we can’t all be leaders for every cause but we should do it with passion

  • Jamie Oleka

    I love the fact that many people from diverse backgrounds and traditional roles all worked towards a good common cause, sent by the Lord! Oh how we could use that more today.

  • Lauren Elizabeth

    I love how this points to the saving work of Jesus!

  • Jenny Messer

    This was a great way to explain why the Bible has passages such as these. I needed to know that this revealed a story. It revealed WHO was working on the wall. Thank you for this and the info!

  • Ashley Graber

    This makes me think of Psalm 127:1a: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” It seems like the task of building the tower of Babble would have been simpler than this one. (I mean, they were just building straight up…) But the task of building a wall required each person working well with the people next to them to smooth the transitions, and not only this but to remain on a similar time frame so they could connect their segments together effectively. The Lord’s hand was (duh) in this project, and because of that, it was possible. When we are wanting a new church building, a home, to write a book, to get a job, we must be sure the Lord’s hand of blessing is upon it, so then it will surely stand firm.
    On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. :-)

  • Shelby Lynn

    Every person has a role. Destruction or not, we all have a role. Are we living for full fulfillment of our God-given role? Devastation should start a spiral of good works but sometimes God gives us a foul ball to catch our eye to realign us. God purpose for us is to come closer to Him. God doesn’t want to hurt us, sin predisposed that for us. The devil tries to break us, God sees this and we are hoped/expected to stay the Heavenly way. How can we make a bad experience, Godly? A unforeseen illness, Godly? Yes we pray for God to take things away but illness, hurt, tragedy is all part of Sin. God determines if it’s our time to go or if our purpose isn’t fulfilled yet leading us to stay. God uses our tragedies, pain, heartache as an opportunity to see his goodness and for us to know He will not leave us but we aren’t granted a pain free life on Earth; Heaven is paradise. We have to work for that paradise in Gods name.

  • AnnMarie L. Smith

    Working together for the greater good.

  • Jennifer K

    While reading today’s passages, I couldn’t help but to think of one of my favorite hymns:
    “One bread, one body
    One Lord of all
    One cup of blessing which we bless
    And we, though many
    Throughout the earth
    We are one body in this one Lord.”
    I found this passage hard to read, as I do most passages with the repetition of names, dates, places, etc. However, the tie to Romans 12 and Melanie’s reflection tied it together beautifully. Thank you.

  • Danielle Merriweather

    I love how Nehemiah had a vision and because he was obedient, the fruits of what was able to transpire because he was faithful and obedient to God. I also love how everyone has a task and they were all so diligent in completing the task of rebuilding the wall. Sometimes it takes a team effort.

  • Tammy Budd

    I felt like I was reading from Numbers at first and really struggled to get through today’s passage! But then I envisioned this assembly line of people, all working together for a common purpose, and was so motivated. Reading to my teenage daughter I asked her how she’d like to be the one who had to rebuild the Dung Gate…and then read the Romans passage of, “don’t think more highly of yourself” and “all are given different gifts and abilities.” Lol. I love the combination of scriptures today. God is so good. Excellent comparison by this author to the devastation from the 2017 hurricanes and all who put aside titles and fame to help the people. Love!

  • Ana Lisa Johnson

    This is really cool to see all the people listed—by name—in this chapter. God truly cares about each person who was faithful and did their part to help rebuild this wall. It is a reminder that I should strive to be faithful, even in the small things, because they matter to God.

  • I am writing to ask for prayers for my daughter. She just shared with me that she was sexually assaulted this year in college. I had no idea and my heart is breaking. I have been following SRT for the last 3 months and have been so inspired by all of the sisters in Christ in support of one another. I feel lost in what to feel and what to pray for –

    • Wendy

      I am so sorry this happened! Praying for you and your precious daughter.

    • Katie Burmeister

      Praying for your hurting heart and for your precious daughter.

    • Lynn

      I am praying right now for your daughter. Praying that you would be able to be a strong source of support.

    • Allecia

      Praying. Perhaps a Christian counselor could help. I am also grateful that she told a trusted person and did not keep this hidden.

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so sorry to hear this. Our team will be praying for you and your daughter during this time. We’re so grateful that you’re a part of our community! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • DebRN

      Praying for wisdom and healing for your daughter. I also pray for trustworthy counselors to come along side.

    • Melanie

      Prayers for you and your daughter, friend. As someone who has been sexually assaulted multiple times and kept it a secret, I can imagine a lot of what your daughter must be feeling. A Christian counselor was instrumental in guiding me through the brokenness, worthlessness, and numbness I felt. I wasn’t ready for that right away and it took the encouragement of those who loved me to pursue healing. Praying for you as you support your daughter in her recovery. Goodness knows this was a huge injustice and God hates what happened, but he takes pleasure in making all things beautiful and new in a way only He can. Cling to your God and this truth. Love you <3

      • Donna

        Thanks Melanie and untamed for sharing your tragity. As was shared I. This post tragity flattens us be it sexual assult, Distructive marriage, family addictions . Clas doesn’t matter. The hurt and loss same . We need others who have been victims to lead up to healing in Jesus. Although I do believe sexual assault often secreat is most isolating . Praying for you and anonymous daughter.
        Blessings, Dinna

    • Lehua K.

      So heartbreaking to hear. Praying for you and your daughter.

    • Terrie Fulk

      I will pray for your precious daughter and yourself. Put your faith in God. He will guide your daughter and yourself through this horrific tragedy and punish those who are responsible for this atrocity.

  • Kailey South

    I also was really struck by all the people who came to rebuild their wall and their vocations. I have been struggling with finding my spiritual gift and how I can use that, always feeling like I’m unqualified.

    • Eva Holsinger

      Kailey, when the hurricane hit, my sister who lives in Corpus Christi wanted to help. She couldn’t operate heavy machinery or saw down trees, but she joined her church in serving coffee and snacks to the other workers all day. I think we can be used through a combination of willing hearts, humility and our talents. Sometimes it doesn’t take much talent to bring over a meal or babysit but it is just as much a part of being the body! I pray that you can spot the opportunities all around you!

    • Nancy Bell

      Kailey, I understand what your saying, I’ve felt at times that I don’t have a specific spiritual gift and I compare myself to others that are obviously so gifted! But I’ve found that I do have gifts although not so obvious, I was seeing that many people always tell me what is on their hearts and God always gives me a word to encourage or give them a sense of peace. A simple gift but it is something that is just natural for me. Listening to others hearts is something they truly need, and I thank God for every opportunity He gives me to serve Him!

  • Lynne Stephenson

    Praying for peace and calmness today. I am thankful that I have my sisters in Christ to rely on when feeling down & in doubt.

  • Judy Holland

    I just love how the differing groups of people chipped in and worked together towards the same goal, “restoration”. This reminds me of how we the Church are suppose to do, with God in the role of Master architect, He gives us a part to play, and when we all work together we become The Church. No man is an island unto himself.

  • Lehua K.

    What a timely message this is… Our island neighbors on the island of Hawaii are facing devastation and destruction with lava activity. The future is still uncertain for many with their homes destroyed and families being displaced. Please keep the community in your prayers, sisters. Thank you so much.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing Lehua. We’re sorry to hear that and we’ll be praying for the community during this time. Grateful you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • England Elsie

    Oh the teamwork!! Let’s help others where we see a need and we have the skills and resources – physical labour and help others fighting sin.

  • So often, I like to be independent and take the credit for growth or “fixes” in my life. I think that God is inviting me to hold onto the word ‘humility’ this summer, which can involve allowing Him and other people to come alongside me in the journey of rebuilding what is broken in my own life. We can’t do it on our own. First and most importantly, we desperately need Jesus. But we also need community and friends to walk with too.

    • Amy Alexandra

      I’m the same way, Anna. I feel proud of myself when I see growth in my life, but I’m realizing that that attitude ignores my desperate need for Christ. If it weren’t for Him, I would have no hope of ever conquering the sin in my heart. If it weren’t for Him, I would be broken beyond repair. Recognizing how much I need Him teaches me to be humble enough to accept and to seek help from the people He has placed in my life.

  • I really appreciated the diagram in the work book while reading this. It meant so much more to follow the wall around each section, than just reading a list of names. Thank you SheReadTruth team for the detail you provide, you help bring the scriptures alive.

  • Katie Braun

    I connected most with the teamwork required to rebuild the wall. God didn’t worry about each person’s vocational background. He cared about their hearts & willingness to pitch in for the greater good, & then blessed them with strength & a spirit of power to collaborate. Father, I pray that this same spirit would fall on our workplaces & communities — that we would come together to glorify you & rebuild the world around us. Help us let go of worldly desires for success or any arrogance/resentment in our hearts that would prevent us from coming together under your banner & humbly serving you. Jesus, lead us in the way everlasting. Amen!

  • Chelsea Terry

    What a powerful devotion and a beautiful tie into the gospel as well.

  • YvonneBonnie Delgado

    I love all the details of so many building different sections of the wall. God is so declaimed in reconstruction every section of our hearts and the walls we have built or destroyed because of sin. Gods walls are for our safety our walls are opposite and isolate us. Lord knock down my walls and resurrect yours. Amen!

  • Wow. Y’all I live in Houston. Less than 2 miles north of where I live the bayou overflowed into some very wealthy neighborhoods. I would walk each day to the intersection for a week watching the boats launch for recovery efforts asking people if they needed food or a ride somewhere. I was shocked, I probably still am and will never forget. Now I drive that same road and see houses absolutely bulldozed, flattened. Some have rebuilt and chosen to stay. Others have empty lots with still a question mark on their future. But God is in the business of resoration and I don’t think His story from Harvey is finished yet! Thank you for this connection to Nehemiah, blessed by it this morning!

  • Claire Belle

    I loved the part in Romans. I love that it gives me permission to use my unique spiritual gifts, without having to long for different spiritual gifts. Very often times, I want to be good at something I am not good at. I want to put a round peg into a square hole. The verses in Romans gives me permission to do what I have been called to do without needing be be something that I am not. And in that way I am uniquely useful to God.

    • Danica Moise

      Yes! I love this :)

    • Mia Faith

      Claire Belle – that’s a good word this morning! I’m with you!

    • Lucia Burrola

      I’ve felt like I’ve had my life leveled and broken some of my own doing and some just life. This message tells me to leave the past heartache or shame behind and get down to business rebuilding with Gods promises and pay attention to who might come alongside to help… it might be very different than I think, look at what a diverse mix God put together to work at rebuilding..We all are affected but we all need eachother

    • Mel Poynton

      So good, Claire!

  • Jessica Terpstra

    This is such a beautiful picture in the face of devastating circumstances! I love that God made sure the “daughters” were included in the story for eternity!

  • Churchmouse

    Only One can redeem and only One can rebuild what was broken at the Fall. But it is up to those of us who know this One to then tell others how they too can be redeemed and rebuilt. We are to take up our tools and do what we can. We are not to neglect our part. We do have a job to do. It is glorious work!

    • Gina Glennon

      Yes! Amen!

    • Brandi


    • Sheryl

    • KimN

      Verses10 & 28 stood out to me for the reasons you stated above. People working on the wall right next to their houses. We can start building relationships with those right beside us or just outside our door by loving them with love of our Saviour and sharing our lives in a meaningful way that they would know the One who came to rebuild and restore!

  • Christina

    It is amazing and encouraging that so many people left their comfort zone to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: priests, goldsmiths, daughters, rulers (though one group of rulers would not stoop to serve the Lord, another did, even to the extent of repairing the Dung Gate… what?!!?). God does not always use us according to our giftings and talents. He uses hands willing to accomplish His purposes by His grace and power.

  • Kelly Chataine

    No matter how hard we work, whether individually or together, we cannot fix sin. Instead, we all have to rely on the power and work of one person alone: Jesus Christ.
    Thanks be to God! (seems to sum it up well)

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