Populate the City of God by Stephanie Matthews, CFR

Scripture Reference: Nehemiah 11

It was time.  The walls were now restored and the city must be inhabited.  Of course the city leaders would live there, but who else?  They determined to cast lots to select a tenth of the people to move in. This was not an absolute draft, though—families could decline, at which point they cast lots until willing families were found. For all of those willing families, the rest of the Israelites commended them and blessed them for moving in when so many others were unwilling.

To live within the city walls was a sacrificial act.  Jerusalem was (and continues to be) a military target for surrounding nations, and as it was not an economic center, there was no revenue source for its inhabitants.  The people living there would have only kingdom occupations: reconstructing the city, guarding the walls, keeping the gates, civic duties, etc.  So why chose to live there?  Because God’s presence would reside in the temple and the temple was in Jerusalem.  The nearness of God was the reward.

Beyond the leaders and willing tenth, a large portion of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin determined to move in.  It makes sense that both of these tribes would elect to enter.  Judah’s bloodline produced King David and Solomon, the original founders and constructors of Jerusalem as the Israelite capital.  It was practically their “hometown.”  It’s also likely they knew that their bloodline would produce the Christ as well.


But why Benjamin’s tribe and why did twice as many of them volunteer to populate the city?  Prior to Judah’s tribe producing the God-appointed King David, Benjamin’s bloodline produced King Saul.  King Saul was a Benjamite.  They likely felt even more loyalty to the city because their kinsman had been Israel’s first king.  But guess who their next famous descendant would be…Saul of Tarsus! The amazing New Testament Paul!

What is important is that people were willing to come together to do what needed to be done to re-establish Jerusalem.  Whether that was forsaking convenience and affluence, uprooting their families, or unifying with another clan who had ties to the throne.  They all came together with a heart to work together in the nearness of God.  

As you read this, Jesus is in heaven preparing the New Jerusalem for occupation by His people.  Will you willingly choose to move in and be a part of the Kingdom work that must be done?  Are you willing to work alongside other believers from “other tribes” to serve our God well?  Resolve to “move in” closer to the Lord today.


Father, as in Nehemiah’s time, we acknowledge that the earthly parts of your Kingdom have been in disrepair and that is not fitting for such an awesome, perfect, and powerful God!  Like the Israelites of that day, help us to come together to do what needs to be done to establish your throne in our hearts and in our land.

Father, may we be willing to forsake our idols of convenience, affluence, and control and may we instead embrace humility, sacrificial support of our brothers and sisters, and put our hands to the pragmatic work that must be done.  Please forgive us our idolatry!

Lord, we are so excited to remember that you are preparing a place for us–a New Jerusalem.  As we partner with you in this work, may we have renewed enthusiasm for the unity of Your body, and a genuine willingness to work alongside other believers from “other tribes” to serve You well.

Just as you exist in perfect unity, may your people exist in perfect unity as well so that we can be the light casting out darkness.

In the holy and worthy name of Jesus, Amen.

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