What do we do with the lists? Well, for most of us we skip over the lists of names because they seem insignificant and unexciting. If you walked in this morning excited because you knew chapter 11 and 12 contained long lists of name, you’re probably in the minority!
Now there’s a reason why these names seem insignificant and unexciting (besides the fact they are difficult to pronounce). It’s because these are ordinary people. They’re not celebrities. There’s no glam. They’re ordinary people, who worked ordinary jobs, and lived ordinary lives. In a sense, they’re just like us. Ordinary people, ordinary jobs, ordinary lives. But that shouldn’t come to use as a Debbie Downer. One of the major themes that runs throughout Nehemiah is that God is fulfilling his promises. Think of Nehemiah as the unfolding of what God specifically said he would do through his people. It’s an integral part of the redemptive story line of the Bible. And as God has been rebuilding a broken city, His city, he’s done every bit of it through these ordinary people.
God is still at work in the world. But instead of building temples and walls, he’s building his Church. He’s building the kingdom of God. And brick by brick, the kingdom of God is growing as people come to faith in Christ, as the body of Christ is built up and edified. And guess who the Lord is using to make that happen? He’s using ordinary people, with ordinary jobs, and ordinary lives. God’s intention for building his kingdom is to use you. Of course, our being used of God doesn’t come without great sacrifice. But, as we’ll see in our text this morning, it also is accompanied by great joy. In fact, it was so great, the text tells us that the “joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” So what kind of sacrifices did they make, that they would experience overwhelming joy?