Nehemiah may not be as familiar to the Christian community as Moses or Paul, but his story is just as pivotal. In brief, Nehemiah will leave a comfortable and wealthy position in Persia to rebuild the gates and walls around the city of Jerusalem. Compelled by the news of constant invasions and a lack of protection for the Temple, Nehemiah was permitted by the Persian king to organize a rebuilding project. While Nehemiah accomplished his task in a mere 52 days, there are enduring lessons to learn.
First, Nehemiah had opposition from people who should have been assisting him. Sanballat, Tobiah, and others, were profiteering from their own countrymen and Nehemiah’s mission would cost them money and influence. No longer would they be able to profit from the misfortune of their own people. Nehemiah had to defend against the very men who should have been helping.
Secondly, Nehemiah used the same fallen stones to rebuild the walls. He restored the broken down gates and filled the breaches. The supplies might have been renewed, but they were not new. They might have been re-cut or reformed, but they came from the rubble. And finally, Nehemiah did not “build” the walls: he rebuilt them. This means that he did not set a new boundary or attempt to set lines according to his own ideas. He simply followed the pattern that had been laid long ago. He set the walls where they had been. He did not change the landmark; he only restored it.
The lessons are clear…
1) There will be opposition. Holy things of God and divinely appointed works will suffer a rebuff from people who should be with us. The spirit of Sanballat and Tobiah is always at work. Division inside the Church is more devastating than opposition from the world. We must defend against false brethren and those who cause doubt and trouble.
2) God can make something beautiful and strong out of the rubble. God wants to use us even if we think we are unqualified. He is the Master Builder! Sometimes, we are re-cut and reformed just so we can serve His purpose. David prayed to be broken, and molded in the image that God wanted. Strength comes from the remade life. Regardless of our past, God wants to use us. His mercy endures forever!
3) No one has the right to change the lines of holy living. The Bible tells us not to remove the “old landmarks.” They speak to boundaries of lifestyle, conduct, and convictions. The walls are there to protect the Temple. The walls are set to guard from the attacks of the world and vain philosophies. As the world drifts farther from truth and decency, we will trust the Lord.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole