A 2500 year old phone book from Jerusalem?

It’s tempting to think that Nehemiah 3 is no more than that: all that’s missing is the phone numbers! Lists of names of people – many of whom we know almost nothing about, and lists of various gates around the circumference of the city of Jerusalem. It’s one of those Bible chapters that are easy to overlook.

It’s the record of who built what as part of Nehemiah’s great 5th Century BC project of rebuilding and restoration. It was important work, though even with that, someone once described it as ‘a colourless memorandum of assignments.’

But it can be read as much more than that.

It is a testimony to the people who played a part in rebuilding the city and to the work that they did.

One of the things that the book of Nehemiah illustrates is that while God asked no advice and needed no assistance in the creation of the universe, his normal way of getting work done is to work through people.

Some of the people that God works through are well-known: people like Nehemiah himself, or Moses, or Paul, or Billy Graham. Others are virtually unknown: no one outside of their immediate circles of family and friends know their names. Have you ever heard of Binnui, son of Henadad? Probably not: but Binnui had a role to play.

Whether you and I are well known or not, God values and takes account of the part that we play in his work.

Time for us to roll up our sleeves.

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