“The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah – Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth – places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. 10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.” NIV

‘A great many people have got a false idea about the church. They have got an idea that the church is a place to rest in…to get into a nicely cushioned pew, and contribute to the charities, listen to the minister, and do their share to keep the church out of bankruptcy is all they want. The idea of work for them – actual work in the church – never enters their minds.’ D.L.Moody.

As we read through this next section of chapter 3, we get a growing sense of the variety of people, and trades, who contributed to the rebuilding of the wall. In a time of national emergency, men and women had to do things they wouldn’t normally do; things which, perhaps, they didn’t particularly feel fitted for. I doubt whether being a goldsmith or a perfume-maker naturally qualified you for work on a building site.

In one of my Bibles, I wrote a note next to verse 12: ‘What a privilege to serve together in the church with your family.’ This reference to Shallum and his daughters reminds me of Philip, in the New Testament, who ‘’had four unmarried daughters who prophesied’’ (Acts 21:9).

Again, in this section, we run into a phrase that in some form or other we are going to encounter again in this chapter: ‘’…made repairs opposite his house’’ (10; see also verses 23, 28, 29, 30). Warren Wiersbe calculates that at least six different workers, plus an unknown number of priests, repaired portions of the wall that were nearest to their own houses. He writes: ‘If all of us would follow this example, our neighbourhoods and cities would be in much better shape.’ OT Commentary, p.760. A Chinese proverb says, ‘Better to be kind at home than to burn incense in a far place.’

In the ‘Sent Scattered’ series we’ve been going through on Sunday mornings these past few weeks, we’ve been recognising that God has placed each of us in a particular area, and we are to be the church there. Church is about so much more than Sunday services. Oswald Chambers wrote: ‘God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.’

‘Try and make your own neighbourhood a little more like God would have it. It may be that you have gone too far afield in search of work; you are applying to the Foreign Missionary Society, or are waiting for a sphere of service; yet all the time there is that wretched neighbourhood, like a piece of ruined wall before you. Arise and repair it!’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Great Verses Through The Bible’, p.168.

PRAYER: Lord, you have assigned me a part of ‘the wall’ for the task of rebuilding. Help me to fully play my part, and be content with my assignment, not wishing for someone else’s position or location.