When Nehemiah entered the city of Jerusalem, he went by night, alerting no one of his inspections, except a small group of men who were with him. Nehemiah had a plan that was given to him by God and he didn’t want anyone causing that plan to be thwarted:
11 Nevertheless, my journey continued until I reached Jerusalem. After three days in the city, 12 under the cover of darkness, I was accompanied by a small group of men. The True God had placed a secret plan on my heart, and there I had left it hidden until the time was right. No one knew what it was I imagined for Jerusalem. With my men walking beside me, I mounted and rode around the city. 13 At night I went out of Jerusalem through the valley gate, heading toward the dragon well and down to the potsherd gate where the city dumps its trash. As we went, we examined the walls of Jerusalem: they were as bad as we had heard. No stones remained standing, and fire had consumed the gates. 14 We continued on toward the fountain gate and the pool of the king, but amid the rubble I was unable to continue riding—there was simply no room— 15 and so I dismounted and followed along the valley, still under the cover of night, examining the wall as I went. Finally I had seen enough and turned back toward the valley gate, reentering the city the way I had left. 16 Those who were in charge of Jerusalem did not know where I had gone, much less what I was up to. I had said nothing to anyone—even those who would shortly be doing the work of rebuilding. Everyone was in the dark: common Jews, priests, nobles, and leaders alike. Nehemiah 2:11-16
Nehemiah had learned much in his life about people. He knew that the best way to get a job done was to keep the plans to yourself until the time was right. He was aware that there is something inherent in man that will want to give their input – and that input is usually not positive. Well intentioned though people may be, most of us tend to see the problems rather than the solution. That is one of the major roles of leadership, to steer people toward a solution, rather than to stay circling around the problems. It take s a wise and skillful person to do that. As we’ll see in these chapters, Nehemiah excelled in wisdom and foresight.
In beginning the rebuilding of the wall, they began at the sheep gate and interestingly enough the priests began that re-building:
The sheep gate was first. Led by their brother, the high priest Eliashib, the priests began the work of rebuilding. They framed it, then they set its doors in place. They proceeded to the tower of the hundred, and after dedicating it they made it as far as the tower of Hananel. Nehemiah 3:1
The New Testament is said to be the Old Testament revealed. In this passage, like many others in the Old Testament, there is significance in beginning with the Sheep gate. For the sheep gate was the entry way for the sheep who were sacrificed for the atonement of sins. Jesus is our sacrifice and our sins are atoned when we enter into receiving the sacrifice He made on Calvary’s cross. Nehemiah used the priests to begin this work – most times it is our present day "priests" who lead us to the Cross. It is no coincidence that the sheep gate marked the end of the re-building of the wall, for Jesus is our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end – the beginning of real life and the entry into life eternal at the end of this earthly life.