Have you spotted that, if you know one piece of information about someone, you automatically know other things? If a person has been in the military they are likely to be a disciplined individual. If a person plays basketball they are likely to be tall. If someone has six siblings she is likely to be aware of other’s needs or demands.
Nehemiah has reached a point where he is choosing staff to be put in charge of the newly reconstructed city of Jerusalem. The walls are complete but the infrastructure is not. We have seen over the last two editions (www.worktalk.gs/archive) how he appointed his brother and Hananiah, who had been in charge of a Citadel or Palace. Nehemiah tells us, however, about one key characteristic of Hananiah. It’s a characteristic that would likely be illegal to advertise for in today’s job market. But Nehemiah tells us that Hananiah feared the Lord more than most men do.
Knowing this about Hananiah automatically tells you several other things about him. Job (28:28), who knew a lot about rebuilding, pointed out that the fear of the Lord is wisdom. Solomon (9:10) calls it the beginning of wisdom. Nehemiah would have been aware of both of these predecessors so knew that Hananiah, who feared the Lord, was wise, in fact wiser than most men. Before you go off on a quest for wisdom, please notice that these verses go both ways. If the fear of the Lord is wisdom, then you also have a definition of wisdom – the fear of the Lord. The centre point of wisdom is the Lord, it is referencing the Lord in words, in decisions, in thinking and in choices that hallmarks wisdom.
Does this mean Hananiah always made the right choices? Of course not, he was human. What it meant was that the Lord was his reference point in decision making. He wanted to find a God centred issue in all his decisions, he wanted to use what he knew of God to inform his thinking.
You might like to reflect on how you compare with Hananiah. Hananiah did this more than most, how much do you do it? Do you reference the Lord in work related decisions, big or small? Is your decision making soaked in prayer or even connected to a quick prayer? Can you see your work as worship? Is your worship not separate to your everyday decisions but equated with them?
Something else that you automatically knew about Hananiah is that he was a secure, confident man. Solomon again (Proverbs 14:26) describes a person who fears the Lord as being a secure fortress – a place of refuge for his children. That’s exactly what Nehemiah and Jerusalem needed – security, confidence, refuge for its inhabitants. Hananiah had that more than most, Nehemiah’s mind was aware of this.
What does this information tell you about Hananiah? His security was not related primarily to praise or criticism from others. Just as well because, being in charge, he would get plenty of both. His security came from his God centred life – or to be more accurate, God centred Hananiah in security. Hananiah’s security worked from the inside out and this was exactly what Nehemiah wanted him to bring to Jerusalem. The walls were built, he wanted a man who knew how to build security from the inside. He wanted a person who could bring confidence to a vulnerable population and refuge for the timid.
We will need to look some more at this fear but for now let me connect you again with an idea from Kind David – after all it’s his city we are talking about. David (Psalm 2:11) connects the fear of the Lord with rejoicing and trembling. In fact he invites rulers to discover these connections. It’s the same combination you find in the women as they encounter the empty tomb – fear and joy.
Hananiah knew how to rejoice and he knew how to tremble in his relationship with God.
May I suggest that rejoicing in the Lord always also means trembling in the Lord always and vice versa? To tremble in the Lord means to rejoice in the Lord.
So there you have it – wisdom, security, confidence, refuge, rejoicing and trembling. Hananiah had these more than most. We know that because we know he feared the Lord.
Nehemiah and his team needed all of these things in someone who would jointly be in charge of Jerusalem. Now look again at this list of characteristics that Nehemiah wanted in his team. They are all things we have already seen in Nehemiah himself. Now you can see Nehemiah’s mind at work. Nehemiah wanted someone who could multiply and enhance his own leadership. He wanted someone who could be there when he is not. He wanted someone who could act as he would act if he was there. He wanted someone who would build from the inside out. He wanted Hananiah.
Sounds familiar? Jesus wants builders of a new Jerusalem from the inside out. This week He wants you to multiply His presence as you take wisdom, security, confidence, refuge, rejoicing and trembling into your everyday work. It’s enough to make you fear the Lord.
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. 3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes
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