Nehemiah 7 is a transitional chapter. On one hand it seems to be the end of a long series of battles, both internal and external, with a great sigh of relief that the task is now done: verse 1 tells us the wall and its gates had been built, and the people were set in their places. However, verse 4 reveals Nehemiah’s heart, “The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.” What good is a walled city if there are no people?
All those adventures leading to this point come to a head with the structure of the city. But that structure – with its temple and its walls – stands in vain if it is not used. Therefore, Nehemiah envisions a time wherein the city will be filled and the temple will be used, all in the service of the True and Living God. After all, God’s glory is the ultimate goal of all the people have gone through.
This chapter is not just another long list of names. It is a looking back to all that God has done through his people and looking forward to what God will do through them. Likewise, we experience the challenges and victories of the Christian life. But when a trial seems over and a given task completed, don’t let down your guard and quit; that victory is only another motivation to press forward in the service of the Lord!