And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
Here is a test for you: you know the name of Billy Graham, a man who spoke to more people about Jesus Christ than anyone in history. But what was the name of the part-time evangelist who was preaching when Graham gave his life to Christ? And you might also know Charles Colson, the one-time hatchet man for Richard Nixon who was caught up in the Watergate scandal, was won to Christ, and founded the Prison Fellowship ministries. But what was the name of the attorney who gave Colson a copy of C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” that resulted in Colson coming to faith in Christ?
Throughout history, it is those unsung heroes of the Christian faith, people whose names we are totally unfamiliar with, who have had as great, if not greater, an impact on the kingdom of God as those of us who minister in the limelight. We see that truth illustrated in Nehemiah. After the wall was completed, Nehemiah faced a problem. Nehemiah 7:4 says, “Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built.” Because there had been no wall around Jerusalem, people moved out to the suburbs. Nehemiah knew it was not enough to build a wall around the city; he had to get people to move back to Jerusalem.
There were two groups that moved back into the city in Nehemiah 11. First of all, there were those who were chosen to go. Verse 1 says, “The people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities.” They determined who would go by the casting of lots, which was like the rolling of the dice. In Old Testament days, this was the way people often determined God’s will. This group was like those of us who are called to vocational Christian service. In a real sense, we did not have any choice; we were enlisted into service. That is what happened here–there were some people who were chosen.
But the second group is the one that is really the focus of Nehemiah 11, and that is those who volunteered. Look at verse 2: “And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.” Many times we make the mistake of thinking of volunteers as second-class workers. But in Hebrew, the word “volunteer” means “to incite, to compel from within.” Volunteers have a passion inside of them that causes them to do what they do. They serve not because they are paid to serve; they serve because of an inward, intrinsic motivation. Nehemiah said there was a group of people in the suburbs who had an inward desire to uproot their family, to go through the hassle of packing up everything they owned and moving to a barren city. Why did they do this? Because something inside of them said, “We are going to leave the comfort of the suburbs and go into the city to do something great for God.” It is those people, not the ones who were drafted, who are honored in Nehemiah 11. They were God’s unsung heroes.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Declaration Of Dependence” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org