You may be wondering why on earth I am writing about walls today but a study of the scriptures reveals that in ancient times, the walls of a Nation or City were a symbol of its pride, power and glory. We can catch a glimpse of the importance of rebuilding walls by zooming in on Nehemiah’s determination to do so. Nehemiah 1:3-4 says They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah was saddened by the state of Jerusalem’s walls and gates because their damaged condition was not bringing glory to the people of Israel and by extension, God. Walls and gates are the first things that confront outsiders when they approached a city or kingdom in those days and it was important that they were imposing enough to make a good first impression on the visitors. It was also important for intimidating enemies and attracting foreigners for trade and so on. I believe that our conduct represents our walls and if it is in good shape it will bring glory to God and attract others into God’s kingdom.
The first step we need to take is to desire in our hearts to fix our damaged walls like Nehemiah did in Nehemiah 2:3-4 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Note that after the expression of his desire to rebuild the damaged walls, he prayed to God and asked for favour with the king.
The king eventually granted him his request and Nehemiah’s first step was to survey the damaged walls in Nehemiah 2:15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. Likewise, we should critically analyse our own conduct to determine the areas that need rebuilding. The next step was to confess that the walls were a disgrace and needed rebuilding and Nehemiah sold his vision to all concerned in Nehemiah 2:17-18 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Like Nehemiah, we are to confess that our walls are a disgrace in some areas and need rebuilding by the grace and power of God. Then we are to enlist help with the relevant people like spiritual mentors, trustworthy friends, prayer buddies etc.
However, we all know that the enemy is never happy when you’re making or about to make progress and he usually starts by filling your mind with doubt. Nehemiah 2:19 says 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” Rebuilding the walls of our lives will bring glory to God and shame the devil and he will try everything to prevent that from happening.
People may mock and ridicule you but remain steadfast and respond like Nehemiah in verse 20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” Nehemiah remained defiant in the face of the enemy’s attacks because He was certain that God was on his side and would bring him success. How many of us truly hold on to God’s word when people start to mock and ridicule us? This was only the beginning of Nehemiah’s challenges and opposition and we will focus on how he managed to complete the task and shame God’s enemies in the process in the next post.