Nehemiah 7:3,4 - And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house. 4  Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.


I.    It might seem odd, at first, that this command was given.

A.  Up to this point, anybody could come and go in Jerusalem as they wanted, but just as soon as the wall is completed, and the gates put in the walls, then command is given to shut the gates!  Is that because they are now interested in protecting themselves, and haven't been before?

B.   Verse 3 - Opening and closing the gates.

1.   No need of a wall if the gates aren't controlled.

2.   No need of a Bible if we don't read it.

3.   Watches - against our house - the more careful.

4.   Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain - This is so for our church.

C.   The point is: when we are without protection, and are not being foolish, but are trying to protect ourselves, God will "fill in the gap" and protect us.  But when God gives us physical things to help us, He expects us to use those things to protect ourselves.

1.      When we are without understanding, God "fills in the gap", protecting us from things that will get us in trouble.  But when we have knowledge, God expects us to use the knowledge He has given us to keep ourselves out of trouble.

a.      When pastoring in Willow Hill, I kept my 1968 Dodge station wagon in as good a condition as possible, but I always prayed that God would keep us save as we traveled to monthly fellowship meetings.

b.      I worked many hours while pastoring at Willow Hill, but God always provided me with a message for the people.

2.      We might stumble into temptation, (Gal 6:1 - overtaken) but God will keep us from falling completely because we don't understand, but when we understand certain dangers of a sin, and walk into it, God just might let us fall into that temptation and sin.


II.         The methods of protection.

A.  Closing the gates is as it should be.

1.   The king of Persia, Artaxerxes, would certainly expect Nehemiah to close the gates.  That was the entire purpose of building the wall.

2.   It would be completely stupid and illogical to build the wall, then not close the gates.

3.   The wall is for protection from enemies.  The Jews can now live in the city of Jerusalem without worrying about their enemies coming upon them unawares.  

B.   The gates are to be closed and barred.

1.   This is evidently some type of board, or rod that fits across the gates, perhaps fitting into the adjoining wall.

2.   When this bar was in place, it would be almost impossible for any intruder to enter.

C.   Setting up the watches.

1.      It is likely the porters were in charge of closing and barring the gates.

2.      Nehemiah also gave each household the responsibility of taking care of their own house.

a.      This is very practical.

b.      The responsibility of keeping the city was not delegated to one or two people or families for there were too many things they could miss.

c.      When everybody in the city has charge of a certain section of the wall to protect, they will do a better job.


III. This same principle works today.

A.  The responsibility of keeping the church starts with each family keeping themselves.  (This is “grass roots” strength.

1.   If church members expect their pastor to keep the church pure, and don't do anything themselves, the church will soon go into ruin.

2.      If church members expect their pastor, or somebody else, to witness, while they don't, there soon won't be any witnessing.

3.      If the land is eroding, trees are not planted because they won’t do much to stop the erosion.

4.      Grass is planted, because even though grass is small, its roots are deep.

B.   The responsibility of keeping a nation starts with each family keeping themselves.

1.   A nation is only as strong as the individuals who make up that nation.

2.   If individual people aren't patriotic and believe in the values taught by that nation, that nation shall not stand.

C.   The responsibility of keeping a community starts with each family keeping themselves.

1.   Today, much of the responsibility of keeping a community safe from criminals has been taken from the common people and put in the hands of “experts”.

2.   Things sure have got in a bad condition, haven't they?

3.   The "experts" believe it is wrong for a private citizen to protect their own property, but expect the police to do it.

4.   But the criminal is gone before the police are able to get there.

5.   The end result of this kind of thinking is that private citizens are penalized and sometimes punished for protecting private possessions.