Nehemiah 1:3 “They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province, who had survived the exile, is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire. ”
Recently, while on a walk in Cook Forest with my husband, we came across a broken-down wall pictured below. Its stone lay in disarray. The lack of attention was obvious. The property surrounded by this wall could be easily accessed by anyone passing by. A wall, like anything else must be maintained. Its stone or brick and its mortar must be continually inspected and repaired in order to ensure that its integrity is intact. Over time the weather as well as continual assault by enemy armies wore the wall down around Jerusalem until it was found breachable. Now the city was vulnerable and its peoples were at risk.
How like us. Spiritually, we are called to build up our walls against the wiles of the Devil. As it says in I Peter 5:8:
We do our wall-building by being students (and doers) of the Word, and with acts of spiritual worship, service and prayer.
Subtly though if we are not conscientious about building up and maintaining our walls, little bits of mortar fall away, bricks loosen and stones crumble. Song of Solomon 2:15 states “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” The little foxes are the things that we never would have engaged in that suddenly become acceptable, attitudes we never would have tolerated become the norm. And soon we are like the exiles in Jerusalem. We are surrounded by a wall full of holes. Our defenses are down.
Yet, there is hope! Nehemiah 2:17-18 says, “So I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come. Let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall so that we will no longer be a disgrace. I told them how the gracious hand of my God had been on me, and what the king had said to me. They said, ‘Let’s start rebuilding’ to do this good work.’”
The process of rebuilding the wall that protects our hearts is not one accomplished easily. Just as Nehemiah and his friends faced ridicule and hardship so might we. They had one hand for the work and one hand for the battle. And so it is with us.
Note though what Nehemiah said later on. In 2:20 he said “I gave them this reply, ‘The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success.’” It is not by our efforts alone that the wall of our spiritual security will be built and maintained. It is by the hand of our loving Father coupled with our obedience to the task at hand.
It was with confidence that Nehemiah faced rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem despite any number of difficulties. He knew the source of his strength and he knew that he could count on God to guide and protect him through the process. We too can take heart knowing that God will direct our steps and help us to face whatever adversity or trials come our way. Proverbs 3:5-6 provides the guidance we need. “Trust in the Lord with all our heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
Like Nehemiah it takes trust first of all in God to direct our steps, obedience on our part for what He directs, and our family of believers to help us be successful in the work of rebuilding and maintaining our walls of defense. Let us not be weary in the work but let us go whole-heartedly into the task of rebuilding the wall!