Any Volunteers?

A daily devotion for August 23rd

Read the Scripture: Nehemiah 11
Nehemiah 11

1 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

3 These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem (now some Israelites, priests, Levites, temple servants and descendants of Solomon's servants lived in the towns of Judah, each on his own property in the various towns, 4 while other people from both Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem):
From the descendants of Judah:
Athaiah son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, a descendant of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah son of Baruch, the son of Col-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, a descendant of Shelah. 6 The descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem totaled 468 able men.

7 From the descendants of Benjamin:
Sallu son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his followers, Gabbai and Sallai—928 men. 9 Joel son of Zicri was their chief officer, and Judah son of Hassenuah was over the Second District of the city.

10 From the priests:
Jedaiah; the son of Joiarib; Jakin; 11 Seraiah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, supervisor in the house of God, 12 and their associates, who carried on work for the temple—822 men; Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah, 13 and his associates, who were heads of families—242 men; Amashsai son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and his associates, who were able men—128. Their chief officer was Zabdiel son of Haggedolim.

15 From the Levites:
Shemaiah son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, two of the heads of the Levites, who had charge of the outside work of the house of God; 17 Mattaniah son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his associates; and Abda son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 The Levites in the holy city totaled 284.

19 The gatekeepers:
Akkub, Talmon and their associates, who kept watch at the gates—172 men.

20 The rest of the Israelites, with the priests and Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, each on his ancestral property.

21 The temple servants lived on the hill of Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them.

22 The chief officer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mica. Uzzi was one of Asaph's descendants, who were the singers responsible for the service of the house of God. 23 The singers were under the king's orders, which regulated their daily activity.

24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, one of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was the king's agent in all affairs relating to the people.

25 As for the villages with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath Arba and its surrounding settlements, in Dibon and its settlements, in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, 27 in Hazar Shual, in Beersheba and its settlements, 28 in Ziklag, in Meconah and its settlements, 29 in En Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its settlements. So they were living all the way from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom.

31 The descendants of the Benjamites from Geba lived in Micmash, Aija, Bethel and its settlements, 32 in Anathoth, Nob and Ananiah, 33 in Hazor, Ramah and Gittaim, 34 in Hadid, Zeboim and Neballat, 35 in Lod and Ono, and in the Valley of the Craftsmen.

36 Some of the divisions of the Levites of Judah settled in Benjamin.

New International Version
close

Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1-2).

The great principle to remember in reading the Old Testament is that what happens to Israel on a physical level pictures what is happening to us on the spiritual level. God too is a builder. The New Testament tells us that He is building a city with inhabitants called the New Jerusalem. It is not like the old one, made of bricks and mortar, but a new city built of spiritual stones--living stones, according to the New Testament (1 Peter 2:5). It is intended to be inhabited by redeemed people. If you draw that parallel, you will begin to see some of the teaching of this passage in Nehemiah.

Chapter 11 is the account of Nehemiah's efforts to repopulate Jerusalem. Although the city wall had been rebuilt at this point, Nehemiah discovered that he had a problem. He had a fine, well-defended city--but without people! His solution was to draft families to move there, for a capital must be inhabited since it is the heart of the nation. As the governor, he simply issued an edict: One out of every ten people living in the suburbs must move to Jerusalem. He went through the towns and numbered the people, counting them off by tens, and then they threw a die with ten numbers on it. The man who had the same number that came up on the die was expected to move his family into Jerusalem.

If you read this carefully, it is apparent that when a man was chosen to move into Jerusalem, he was permitted to decline if he wanted to. That is because God wanted volunteers for this. So a man could be chosen but could decide against moving. Then the lot would be cast again and another name chosen. Sooner or later someone would be found who consented freely to go. According to the account, those who chose to go were commended by the people. They honored them because they volunteered to do what God called them to do.

The same principle applies in the church today. According to the New Testament, we are all called into the ministry--all of us! The ministry belongs to the saints! The minute you become a Christian, you are moved into God's new Jerusalem. You are asked to take up labor there, to do work according to the spiritual gift God has given you. But you must also volunteer to do it. God does not force His people to do what they are asked to do. He gave us all spiritual gifts, but He does not force us to use them. Yet if you want to be respected or honored and commended at last by the Lord Himself and by all His people, then the wise thing is to volunteer to perform the realm of ministry He has opened up for you.

Lord I want to be a part of what You are building. Thank You for the gifts and talents You have given me. Show me how best to put them to use.

Life Application: God calls and equips His people to serve voluntarily. Will we miss the grandeur of His calling to minister both in the Church and the world, by default?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

From your friends at www.RayStedman.org