Summary: Time for the ‘Body of Christ’ to wake up from the slumber and get going by restoring the shattered walls and foundations of the Church; being always alert of the enemy attacks, positioning ourselves firmly in God’s Word and building a lifestyle of prayer.
Opening illustration: The 4,000-mile-long Great Wall of China was built to keep invaders from the north. The first wall was constructed by Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, who lived between 259 – 210 BC. But in AD 1644 the Manchus broke through the Great Wall and overran China. They did this by bribing a general of the Ming dynasty to open the gates.
During the reconstruction of ancient Jerusalem, Nehemiah understood the acute danger posed by those who opposed the rebuilding of the city’s ruined walls. So he commanded constant vigilance. Half of the workers were to stand watch while the other half rebuilt the walls.
As Christians, we must be vigilant that nothing breaches our spiritual defenses. Even the most mature believer can never afford to let down his guard. (Illustration by C. P. Hia, Our Daily Bread)
Let us turn to Nehemiah 4 and catch up with the story so that we can learn to repair and rebuild our cracked and fractured walls and foundations.
Introduction: Nehemiah means “Yahweh comforts.” He was the cupbearer of Artaxerxes 1 of Persia. He held an important position having the responsibility of keeping the king from being poisoned. He was preceded by Ezra and Haggai who rebuilt the temple that lay in ruins. It took Nehemiah 52 days to repair and rebuild the wall. Nehemiah is also called the James of the OT who always challenged God’s people. The hindering good work is what bad men aim at and promise themselves success in; but good work is God’s work, and it shall prosper. God has many ways of bringing to light, and so of bringing to naught, the devices and designs of his church’s enemies. If our enemies cannot frighten us from duty, or deceive us into sin, they cannot hurt us. Nehemiah put himself and his cause under the Divine protection. It was the way of this good man, and should be our way. All his cares, all his grief’s, all his fears, he spread before God. Before he used any means, he made his prayer to God. Having prayed, he set a watch against the enemy. If we think to secure ourselves by prayer, without watchfulness, we are slothful, and tempt God; if by watchfulness, without prayer, we are proud and slight God: either way, we forfeit his protection. God’s care of our safety, should engage and encourage us to go on with vigor in our duty. As soon as a danger is over, let us return to our work, and trust God another time.
How do we repair the breach(s) in the wall?
1. Bring Restoration to our walls & foundations (vs. 7 – 8)
This history shows us, first of all, how, when God acts, faith stamps its own character on all who surround it. The Jews, who had so long left Jerusalem desolate, are quite disposed to recommence the work. Judah, however, is discouraged by the difficulties. This brings out the perseverance which characterizes true faith when the work is of God, be it ever so poor in appearance. The whole heart is in it, because it is of God.
• Not to heed to bad news or be intimidated by people who stand in the way of the Lord and the work of the church. [e g. Sanballat & Tobiah …]
• Cracks (loopholes and weaknesses) in the walls (church ~ body of Christ; also refers to God’s defense, protection and hedge around us) because of complacency, laziness, unwatchfulness, no prayer life, no worship life-style or meditating on God’s Word.
• Causes our vulnerability to satanic forces and giving the enemy a reason to attack and finish us. This they do by identifying the weak spots in the body of Christ (those that are gullible) and bring confusion through them which can easily destabilize the church.
So how does the Christian leadership and the body of Christ grapple with it? Let us go to the next level.
It takes only one person to make all the difference ~ Nehemiah was that man who made all the difference. He was made alert and he responded not by attacking but strengthening the defenses of Judah. He encouraged them to get into a time of prayer and being ever watchful of the enemy.
2. Develop a Lifestyle of prayer & being alert (vs. 9 – 12)
The strongest confidence in the protection and favor of God does not preclude the use of all or any of the means of self-preservation and defense which his providence has put in our power. While God works in us to will and to do, we should proceed to willing, through the power he has given us to will; and we should proceed to action, through the power he has given us to act. We cannot will, but through God’s power; we cannot act, but through God’s strength. The powers, and the use of it, are two distinct things. We may have the power to will, and not will; and we may have the power to do, and not act: therefore, says the apostle, seeing God has wrought in you these powers, see that you work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling.