Nehemiah 11 brings another problem to deal with. “Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem”. The folks who helped him rebuild the wall and revitalize the city were there, but the population was small and there wasn’t enough mass to assure longevity. It wasn’t enough to see the city walls rebuilt and the spiritual renewal of the people of Jerusalem; now they had to focus on bringing more people into the city. For more than seventy years, Jerusalem had been nothing but a ghost town. Now, over the last eighty or so years, it has been rebuilt. But the city still needed more people.
The leaders were setting an example by living in Jerusalem. Leaders do set the standard for how they want others to live. So Nehemiah had that going for him. But even so, there was still a shortage. So they decide to put a lottery system in place to bring in more. One out of ten would be selected to move from the surrounding area into the city of Jerusalem. So, in the end, at least ten percent of Judah’s population would live in Jerusalem. People willingly participated, and a number of them moved into the city willingly.
There were some challenges that came along with that move. Here are a few that these people had to endure:
- You had to be willing to give up what you had outside the city
- You had to be willing to leave behind friends and family
- You had to endure the problems the rebuilt city had. It still needed a lot of work.
- You were putting yourself in the cross hairs of the enemy
It is questionable that Nehemiah could have gotten the people to just voluntarily pick up and move. So his use of the lottery seemed a good tool to get them to make the commitment to come to the city.
The balance of the chapter lists out the leaders who were in town. This extensive list includes tribal leaders (of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), military men, priests, Levites, gatekeepers, and civil and royal servants. All these men and their families took the lead by choosing to settle in Jerusalem, setting a good example for the rest God’s people to follow. That is the essence of leadership, which is influence. These leaders set the example of how they wanted the rest of their folks to live. It is the only effective way to lead!