TEXT: Nehemiah 3:14, "But the dung gate repaired Malchiah ..."
The men in chapter 3 were rebuilding a wall; each had a different assignment. Some worked on the sheep gate; others the fish gate; some the water gate; and others the east gate. But in verse 14, we met a man named Malchiah with an unwanted assignment: his was the dung gate.
If I could liken the wall in Nehemiah 3 to the life you are building, I could say that there will be some unwanted assignments along the way; if you please, a dung gate. Perhaps you are building a marriage wall and you have come upon some hard places. We could call them unwanted assignments or we could be real personal and just say, "This thing stinks". Others of us have been building ministry walls and I found some hard places there, too. I could mention career walls that have not always turned out right - or even in building a friendship wall that has turned out hurtful, etc. From this chapter, can I make some observations about wall building?
1. Don't compare your assignment with that of others.
We know the "grass is always greener" on the other side. If you walk the length of this wall, you will see that many men got better assignments than Malchiah. I see a man in verse 1, Eliashib, working on the sheep gate - a far better assignment than Malchiah's dung gate. There are many other gates mentioned in this chapter: a fountain gate, a water gate, and an east gate. Any one of them is a better place than where God put Malchiah.
If you feel like you got the "short end of the stick" when it comes to your ministry or your marriage, perhaps you should read 1 Corinthians 12:15-25 where the foot felt bad because it was not the hand and the ear felt bad because it was not the eye. The eye cannot say, "I have no need of you" nor can the head say to the feet, "I am not of the body." In a nutshell, Paul is saying that we should not compare ourselves by ourselves or we are not wise.
One day Jesus was talking to Peter and John, and the Lord gave Peter his assignment. Peter said, "What shall this man (John) do?" And Jesus said, "That's not your business. What is that to thee? What I have planned for John is for him. You just go and feed my sheep."
2. You should realize that, even at the dung gates (hard times) of life, there are still things available for you to rebuild with: "... doors ... locks ... bars ..." (verse 14). This refers to good things still available to help you where you are in an undesirable assignment.
Though you may be in a hard ministry, or a hard place in your marriage or career, look around and you will find what you might have overlooked - some doors, locks, and bars. What about those 8,000 promises in the Bible? They are available; pick up some of them and use them at your dung gate. At the dung gate, you will find a little shanty in the corner of the lot and over the door a plaque that reads, "Prayer Closet". Have you been there lately talking to God about your hard assignment? The Bible says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, ..." (Hebrews 10:25). Isn't it true that sometimes we become recluse when what we really need is warm, sweet, and spiritual fellowship, accompanied by a good sermon and an uplifting song? How about that friendship? The Bible says, "... a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
3. The third thing we should do when at the dung gate is to realize this is a temporary assignment.
Do you know how long Malchiah was at the dung gate? Fifty-three days. If people would stay where they are and not rush to judgment, I think many times they would find God is at work. It took God some time to finish creation to the place it was good; yea, very good. Could you give Him some time to make all things beautiful?
It is said that there was a saying carved in a cedar board over the office door of President Abraham Lincoln during Civil War days which read, "This, too, shall pass." And if it doesn't, His grace will be sufficient. We realize fellowship with Him at the dung gate is a lot better than being at the fountain gate without His fellowship.
When thinking about a temporary situation, would you write this down: Faith says, "God can do it." Patience says, "I'll give Him time to get it done."
It would be good to keep in mind that a gate is only a small part of the wall. Probably, in the big picture, your dung gate is only a small part of all that God has done in your life. Maybe you should take a long look and admit that you're in a hard place, but it is temporary and small compared to the whole picture. That thought will put you in the praise mode.
Written by Dr. Charles F. Keen