The wall is ready, but the work isn’t. Carelessness is a trap Nehemiah doesn’t walk into. He does not underestimate the power of the enemy. However, his knowledge of the enemy does not lead him to close the wall hermetically. He places doors in it, openings through which one can enter and leave the city. The city of God is a city characterized by freedom. This does not mean that freedom knows no borders. Real freedom is always enjoyed only if one knows and respects the borders that go with it.
The fact that there are doors doesn’t mean that just anyone can walk in and out. Pretending that no evil can enter the city is ignoring the existence of evil. Carelessness is not proof of piety, but of stupidity. That’s why Nehemiah appoints gatekeepers in the first place. Their task is to ensure that only those people who belong there enter the city.
In a spiritual sense, gatekeepers represent believers who have a special task in the church to see to it that only those people are received as members of the church who actually are and behave as such. They will enter into conversation with unknown persons who visit the local church. In this way they will be able to ‘taste’ what motivates those persons to come.
In the New Testament church ‘gatekeepers’ are not appointed. We recognize them in brothers who want to carry out this task for the Lord and who have received the ability to do so from Him. We find a “profile” in 1 Timothy 3 (1Tim 3:1-71It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires [to do].2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,3not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.4[He must be] one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),6[and] not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.7And he must have a good reputation with those outside [the church], so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.). There they speak of ‘overseers’, which means the same category as ‘elders’. We also see this in Acts 20 where there is talk of ‘elders’ (Acts 20:1717From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.), while the same group of persons further on is addressed with ‘overseers’ (Acts 20:2828Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.; cf. Tit 1:5,75For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,).
Then Nehemiah appoints singers. Singers give the Lord what is due to Him. The spirit of praise is the spirit of power. A church that rejoices is one where God can work freely and which will become a channel of blessing for others.
What is limited to a special group in Israel, in Christendom basically applies to every Christian (Eph 5:19-2019speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;; Col 3:1616Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.). There is no such thing in Scripture as a worship leader as a separate person or a worship team as a separate group within the whole of the local church. The Lord Jesus leads worship (Heb 2:1212saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”).
The singers praise Him for His goodness and honor Him for Who He is (1Chr 9:3333Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ [households] of the Levites, [who lived] in the chambers [of the temple] free [from other service]; for they were engaged in their work day and night.). This is the wonderful task that can be performed in the church by all the redeemed. It is the work of heaven (Rev 5:8-148When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.9And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood [men] from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.10“You have made them [to be] a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”13And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”14And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.), which may start already on earth (Lk 24:52-5352And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,53and were continually in the temple praising God.; 1Cor 14:2626What is [the outcome] then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.). In practical terms, believers can encourage one another to actually do that task. The singers are called after the gatekeepers, for if they are not vigilant, sin easily enters and worship is lost.
Then we see a third group, the Levites. Their task is to help the priests to sacrifice and teach the law to the people. They are service providers. Again, in Israel this is a special group, in the church it is every believer. Each has the responsibility with his or her specific gift to serve the other. There must be room for this in the church (Pro 18:16a16A man’s gift makes room for him
And brings him before great men.). If one’s ministry does not get that space, it may be because of the condition of the church or the performance of a Diotrephes (3Jn 1:9-109I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.10For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire [to do so] and puts [them] out of the church.). It may also be due to the fact that a person presumes a gift (Pro 25:1414[Like] clouds and wind without rain
Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.).
Every service among believers should be aimed at performing our priestly service more and more as God intended. Increasing knowledge and understanding of His thoughts about the Lord Jesus will have the effect that we will increase in our worship. We will do this more often and with more insight.