Apostolic Perspectives #10 - Vital Lessons from Nehemiah
There are countless lessons to be learned from the book of Nehemiah. As with the rest of the bible, one has to be guided by the Holy Spirit to identify what is relevant to the season that you are in.
When Nehemiah heard the news of the condition of his brethren who were in Jerusalem and that the city walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire, it drove him into a deep search for answers.
In those days, the idea of a city without walls was a contradiction. The walls were not primarily designed to keep people in the city; they were built to protect the community from harmful and hostile forces:
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls. ( Prov.25:28)
It is not hard to imagine what a city without walls or functional gates would be like. Anyone could enter at will from whatever direction they choose. The Nehemiah project gives great insight into how to tackle this problem. In many ways, it is a blueprint for building a strong church community.
In Nehemiah Chapter Three, ten gates are rebuilt. The first two gates mentioned are the Sheep Gate and the Fish Gate.
Building the Sheep Gate speaks to order and protecting the sheep. This is the primary responsibility of under-shepherds or Pastors. Know your sheep by name;
carefully attend to your flocks...( prov. 27:23 The Message )
The second Gate we encounter is the Fish Gate, which in principle, is the access point for the world into the church community and the outreach point for the community into the world. If the Fish Gate is destroyed, the church community will not evangelize or reach out to the unchurched and unsaved. This is a serious problem. Apostolic church communities must evangelize.
The final gate which I wish to highlight is the Water Gate. It is the seventh Gate mentioned. The huge significance of this comes out in the first verse of Chapter Eight where Ezra and a team of teachers gathered the whole community by the Water Gate to instruct them in the Word:
“Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel..”.
Teaching the Word is vital to the spiritual health of the people of God. Without it, the church community may be full of people; there may be a robust outreach program, but if people are not being washed and cleansed by the Word, they are left to themselves to deal with any impurities that they may have brought into the church community at the beginning of their journey with the Lord.
In this season, let's give priority to repairing the Sheep Gate, The Fish Gate and the Water Gate. These are accurate steps towards a strong apostolic church community.
Kingdom blessings to you!