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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Nehemiah 11

Verses 1-36

Nehemiah 11:16

What is the House of God? 'A church.' Not necessarily. 'A chapel, a sanctuary, a tabernacle, a temple.' Not necessarily. You may have a cathedral without a house of God, and you may find in some little thatched cottage or chapel on the hillside all the cathedrals out of heaven. Hence it is that we must not look at magnitudes, sizes, revenues, apparatus, but at the ideal, the symbolic, the spiritual, the sacramental; then the great may become little and the little may become great.

I. What was Jacob's environment at that time? Churches, chapels, institutions? Not one. Yet he was in a walled place, walled in with light, and ministered to by ascending and descending angels. We must get the house of God and many other things back from little definitions and narrow and petty localizations, and regard the universe as God's house. What was Jacob's environment? Nature; the green earth, or the stony wilderness, or the blue heaven, or the rippling brook, or the flashing stream, each one, every one, all helping to make up a symbolic building.

II. Let us be very careful how we divide things into outward and inward. The time will come when we shall get rid of even Scriptural uses of outward, alien, strange, foreign. All these words are doomed to go. 'I saw no temple therein,' said John. Why did he not see a temple in heaven? Because heaven was all temple. He who lives in light does not even see the sun; he who lives in God has no moon, for he has no night. But men are crafty and expert almost at making little definitions, parties, separations, and the like.

III. There are persons who have carried their defining powers, if powers they be, into what are called ecclesiastical matters, so that now we have 'The Temporalities' and 'The Spiritualities'. What man devised so insane a distinction? There is a sense, but a very poor, narrow sense not worth considering, in which the work of the Church may be divided into the temporal and the spiritual, but, properly regarded, in the spirit of Christ and in the spirit of the Cross, the gift of the poor man's penny may be as true an act of worship as the singing of the anthem. There is nothing secular, or if there is anything that we call secular it is only for momentary convenience. He that made all things is God; He built the wall of the Church, and He will take care of the roof; it is His place.

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. IV. p. 117.

References. XII. 42, 43. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 1027. XII. 46. W. Garrett Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlii. p. 226.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Nehemiah 11". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/nehemiah-11.html. 1910.