Summary: Nehemiah task is to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Now walls represent two things among others. First, they represent boundaries and structure. People without boundaries and structure in their life create children without boundaries and structures in thei
If there is one thing which should summarize the Christian church, it is mission. The Gospel and the church is about rebuilding or healing brokenness. We’ve learned this and lived this even moreso since Katrina. To date, "The United Methodist Church has helped over 59,000 people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Over 45,692 volunteers (3320 teams) volunteers from around the world have served in our disaster recovery ministry. That’s a donation value of $40,468,015. What we have found is that we are not just rebuilding homes. We are rebuilding lives as well. By rebuilding homes, we are healing the brokenness which has been caused by Katrina, Rita, FEMA, the Lousiana Recovery Corporation and many others.
Today begins our sermon series on the book of Nehemiah. the theme of which is rebuilding. We’ll see it in two sections. The first is about rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem, the city of God, for a city without walls doesn’t have a defense and without a defense you cannot have an offense. The last half of the book is about rebuilding people’s lives.
How did Jerusalem and the people of Israel get to this point? How about a minute and 30 second survey of the history of the people of Israel? The first date we can accurately establish in the Old Testament is God’s call of Abraham about 4000 years ago. Then around 1550 BC, God called Moses to free his people from slavery in Egypt. About 300 years later God called David and raised him up to be the first king of Israel. David unified the tribes of Israel, expanded the kingdom to the largest Israel has ever been in history and secured the borders so that Israel was a relatively safe place to live. David’s son Solomon amassed great wealth during the very prosperous and peaceful times for Israel as it took control of the trade routes which ran through Paelstine and charged taxes on the items passing through. This enabled him to build the city of Jerusalem into a magnificent city and to construct the Temple of God. In 730 AD, there was a civil war and the tribe of Judah in the south split from the 11 tribes in the north, weakening Israel’s defenses from the threatening nation of Assyria to the north. In 586 BC the Babylonians, which is modern day Iraq, attacked Jerusalem, utterly destroying the city. They burned the temple, the symbol of God’s identity and presence amidst the people of Israel, and they demolished the walls of the city. They then kidnapped all of the educated, religious, political, scientific and financial leaders of Israel. In 445 BC, God calls four people, Esther, Ezra Nehemiah, and Zerubabbel, to restore the city of God and thus the movement of God on earth.
Nehemiah task is to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Now walls represent two things among others. First, they represent boundaries and structure. People without boundaries and structure in their life create children without boundaries and structures in their lives which create communities without boundaries and structures, and nations without boundaries and structures. That ultimately means chaos. Second, walls also represent vulnerability. A city with its walls torn down is vulnerable and susceptible to attack. We know what it means to be vulnerable and susceptible as a city and what that does to the people living there. One thing you need to understand is that the world at that time was a very dangerous place. You could not travel even on the major roads of the day without fear of being attacked and perhaps even murdered. Israel at this time was very much like the Wild West without boundaries, structure and government to ensure the safety of the people. We learned in the days after Katrina when the levees broke that utter chaos reigned. New Orleans became a very dangerous place as the criminals and the desperate took control of the city. When safety is not present, there is no trade, and without any trade there is no economy and without a strong economy, there is poverty.
God is concerned about more than just your spiritual well-being. The earth and all that it contains belongs to God. So God is about restoring people, relationships, families, communities, economic systems and the environment. This is why we as God’s people should be concerned about such issues as global warming. Image. You see the God we worship is a God of restoration. God’s call to these four people, Esther, Ezra Nehemiah, and Zerubabbel, is not to go to a new place and start over but to go restore that which had been broken down.
The sermons series we are starting today is entitled [re] which means to do over. God is a God of do overs or new beginnings. Each week in the real estate section there is an article of someone’s personal possession which had been damaged by the storm waters of Katrina and the process of restoring it back to almost like new condition. Now if you know anything about restoration, you know that it can cost significantly more to restore something than to just throw it away and buy something new. It can cost upwards of 3-4 times or even more than the cost of just buying something new. Why would anyone in their right mind do that? An article in the Times-Pic on Jan. 1st about the restoration of the artifacts from the Krewe of Rex from the floddwaters of Katrina answered this with one simple word: History. Those items represented our history. It tells a part of our story. We worship a God of history. In fact, the word history really means His story. It’s why God doesn’t say when we rebel and mess up our lives or the lives of the people around us, “Man you messed up. I’m done with you.” Instead, God prefers to restore and renew us into new life. God is a God of do overs. It means to take the same person and do a do over. It means to take the same person and give them a new life, a new beginning, and a new purpose. God does not make throwaways. His purpose is always to seek to restore.