Nehemiah had a burden for Jerusalem, a city he had never seen, destroyed for sin he was not involved in; yet, he had a burden in the spirit to respond to God’s promise, and see its walls and gates rebuilt.
Having arrived in Jerusalem, under the cover of night (Neh. 2:12), he inspects the walls and gates of God’s city. Ruins.
How do you inspire a people to rebuild in the sight of such destruction? As Nehemiah records, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall” (Neh. 4:10).
Reality had set in. Enemies were conspiring and attacking (Neh. 4:11). The hope that inspired seemed at an end:
“You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies in waste, and it’s gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach” … “So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build’” (Neh. 2:17-18).
Nehemiah, while enemies pressed in, urged the people to stand, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses (Neh. 4:14).
Nothing had changed in their circumstance, except the presence of the enemies outside began to press in. The same wreckage that greeted them at the beginning of their toil was the same wreckage at the enemy’s arrival.
The wreckage that Nehemiah stood over initially inspired them see what could be; but with the scheme of the enemy now more real, the wreckage became evidence of what would not be.
Remember the Lord Nehemiah proclaims!
Never answer lies. Never answer ridicule. Pray and get to God’s work (Eph. 6:16):
“Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night” (Neh. 4:9).
Would the job be easy because Nehemiah was dedicated to the task? No. Enemies pressed in, discouragement set in, but he pressed on. See what is, and get going in the work of God. Tough message, but this is a lesson from the life of Nehemiah.
Criticism, discouragement, and open hostility is easy to come by in this day and age. As we continue to walk in faith before the Lord, voices will make their presence known: they are watching and waiting for weakness to be revealed. Yet, at times, we are our own source of criticism, and discouragement – don’t do that!
Still, the wreckage in our lives seems too overwhelming to clean up, and rebuild. Hear to the voice of the enemy:
“What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish – stones that are burned? (Neh. 4:2).
When the enemy calls you feeble, remember that not one feeble departed Egypt with the camp of God (Ps. 105:37). Will you offer sacrifice? Yes, a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). Will the burned stones live again? Yes, “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house – a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua/Jesus” (I Pet. 2:5).
Glory to God!
When the discouragement, and overwhelming stress of this age begins to dislodge the peace of God set in you, remember the promise of Messiah. He would send the Holy Spirit to comfort you (Jn. 14:16).
Why is the lesson of Nehemiah so important for us today? His is a story of comfort, even in the midst of great distress. And his message is נְחֶמְיָה, “Nehemiah,” literally meaning, “Whom God comforts.”
You are His revived work, His revived wreckage, His revived stones, not your own. Rejoice.
Be well. Shalom.