“Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 11:1-2
Chapters nine and ten of the book of Nehemiah cover many of the specific actions the children of Israel took as they entered into a covenant with God and sought to ensure that they would not repeat the sins of their fathers. But there was one problem that couldn’t be solved by promises to obey God’s laws or the building of a wall.
Jerusalem was empty. Prior to the rebuilding of the wall the only part of the city that had been restored was the area of the Temple which had been rebuilt many years before following the first wave of people returning from exile. Now the wall’s been rebuilt but that doesn’t change the fact that largely the city is still in ruin requiring a great deal of expense and effort to make it a prosperous city once again.
The people who’ve returned have largely settled in the country side upon the land that had been given to their families following Israel’s entrance into Canaan during the time of Joshua. But now, hundreds of years later, Jerusalem needs inhabitants. Only the leaders administering the services of the Temple and the offices of government are living in Jerusalem. Someone, many someones, must make the sacrifice and leave the security of a home and fields and be part of the corps that will make Jerusalem a thriving city once again.
So lots were cast to choose who would move to Jerusalem.
We draw lots to randomize or remove conscious human choice from the process of selection. It’s all up to the chance of a blind draw. But the children of Israel didn’t see the casting of lots as a mere surrender to the whim of chance. They were seeking the will and the choosing of God. In the drawing of lots they were surrendering themselves to a selection process in which only God could influence the outcome and they accepted that outcome as the expressed will of God.
There’s still a great work for God’s kingdom that needs to be done and sacrifices that need to be made to see it completed. Churches need to be planted in communities where the gospel proclaimed by the Three Angels has never been preached. There aren’t enough preachers to see the job done rapidly enough so God’s calling for church members to dedicate themselves to the work.
God’s Spirit may be touching you right now and saying I choose you to go for me and to build up my kingdom. You may not have to go far but still you may need to leave the comfort of a home church and a familiar pew and exchange it for a house church, or a rented room so that someone else, in another town can hear and know that Jesus is coming soon.
Are you willing? Will you go?