Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. Nehemiah 11:1-2
Living in Jerusalem wasn’t an attractive option when the exiles first returned. It was in ruins, but conditions improved with the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls. However, people still preferred to live in their own towns, surrounded by their relatives and people they knew. Yet they saw the importance of Jerusalem being populated, which would safeguard their future, as the city would be able to be defended. So they agreed to the casting of lots.
But moving is never easy. Even if it’s a welcome change or a return to an old setting, things will be different. It will require adjustments. Just physically moving all our possessions can be a huge task. We like to have a consistent place to call home, a permanent residence where we can establish friendships and a place where people know where to find us. To uproot and relocate to a new environment is challenging. It takes time and effort to develop new routines, new customs and new ways to provide for necessities.
Nevertheless, in Nehemiah’s day, we read that some volunteered. They saw God’s purposes in repopulating the city and committed to the task. These people were commended for their willingness to move to a new situation.
Likewise today, missionaries, pastors and other Christian workers choose to live in places which aren’t their first preference for the sake of Christ. They make many sacrifices to spread God’s kingdom on earth and we applaud them.