STIR up OTHERS to ACCOMPLISH God’s WORK: “Then I (Nehemiah) said to them, ‘You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.’ And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.” (Neh. 2:17-18)
When Nehemiah took on the leadership to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, little he realize that these walls were lying in ruins for almost 150 years (1:3). In fact, history records that an earlier attempt to rebuild the wall had been stopped prematurely (see Ezra 4:7–23). But Nehemiah had clearly understood that it was a reproach for each Jew as long as the walls around Jerusalem were broken down and its gates were destroyed by fire (v. 17). Through it all, Nehemiah had an incredible awareness of God’s control over all things, and he had acknowledged the sovereignty of God as the ultimate source of his plan. He saw God’s hand working behind the scenes, and he saw himself as nothing more than a tool that God was using to accomplish his purpose in Jerusalem.
However, until this point, no one knew what Nehemiah intended to do. Nehemiah then gathered the people of Jerusalem together in a public town meeting, and began describing the terrible condition of Jerusalem. He then revealed his vision and told everyone that God had put it into his heart to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (vv. 8, 12). He then encouraged all of the people to assist him in in this building project as he described how God had been working so far and making this possible. In response to Nehemiah’s challenge, the people enthusiastically replied, “Let us rise up and build” (v. 18) as they recognized God’s call on Nehemiah and offered full cooperation. Even though Nehemiah acted as a responsible human agent in making the request, but the success was ultimately for God’s pleasure (Ezra 7:6) and purpose (Ezra 1:5).
History reveals that most of the greatest achievements so far have been accomplished by communities of people working together towards a common purpose. Nehemiah understood the power of community as he undertook the task of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and mobilized the community around the rebuilding project. He did this by first raising the awareness of the Jewish community in Jerusalem that something should be done regarding the broken walls, and then he instilled confidence in them that they should do something about it (vv. 17–18). The people became united and enthusiastic as they prepared themselves to rebuild the Jerusalem wall.
Let us remember that by stirring up others to accomplish the work of God, we strengthen ourselves and one another to accomplish great things for God. John Maxwell says that 'teamwork makes the dream work', and he ascribed Nehemiah to be a great leader who has personified that leadership is influence (2:5-8, 16-18), and great leaders are effective communicators of vision (2:17-18). Apostle Paul had also stirred up his spiritual son Timothy with these words: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6). This gift from God is the Spirit of “power and of love and of a sound mind” (v. 7), and having more of God’s Spirit would lead to greater faith in the power of God (Eph. 2:8). Timothy grew and matured to be a great Pastor of the church at Ephesus!