Nehemiah 1-3

The Wall

 Nehemiah opens with a concern about the welfare of the people living in Jerusalem after the temple had been rebuilt. It has been over a hundred years since they started the project and seventy years since the temple had been completed. Nehemiah’s brother reports that the people are living in distress because the wall that surrounded the city remained broken down and the gates had been destroyed by fire. Without the wall the people are vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.

Over the next several months Nehemiah’s concern grows until he is emboldened to bring his concern before the king. During that time he is praying that God would make a way for he is the cupbearer to the king. Any concern he might have other than the welfare of the king would likely cost him his life. Finally the day comes when the king observes that Nehemiah has something on his mind. Nehemiah quickly prays and presents his concern and request. He receives from the king a commission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.

In Chapter 2 we read of Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem and that he quietly inspects the wall.  In Chapter 3 we read the work begins and everyone is working on the wall. Well, almost everyone. There were some nobles who refused to do any work. There is always someone.

When we began our study on the return of the exiles to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple, we drew a parallel between the rebuilding of the temple and our walk with the Lord. The wall represents a line of defense from the enemy. The gates represent what can come in and what can go out. The same is true for us. In Philippians 2 the Apostle Paul charges us to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus who was obedient to the Father even to the point of going to the cross and dying for our sins. He tells us in verse 12, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” NASB

Paul is not saying that we are to work for our salvation; we are to work from our salvation.   In other words we are to build a spiritual wall to keep the enemy out and put up gates to monitor what we let into our lives and what we send out with our words and actions.

Christians are to be different from this corrupt world. We need a wall that keeps the corruption of the world out of our lives. That wall is called faith. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 5:1-6 that our faith in Christ overcomes the world. But there is another problem. We have a sin nature which is also called the lust of the flesh. Our enemy the devil knows all about our sin nature and sets before us temptations that appeal to the lust of the flesh. He loves to put before us things that appeal to our emotions. This is where our spiritual gate comes in. If we don’t have spiritual gates in our life we will be compromised by our own casualness and the enemy can come in and set up strongholds in our life that are going to be hard to get rid of. In our reading think of Sanballat who had some civil or military command in the area. Tobiah was a slave who became governor of Ammon. His son was married to the daughter of a priest which turned out to be another gate left open. Geshem the Arab was likely the chief of a tribe that was allied with those who opposed the Jewish resettlement. Although all of these men did not have any power or authority in Jerusalem, they represented strongholds that were a constant irritant to Nehemiah, a threat to the city, and the rebuilding of the wall.

Our enemy the devil has been rendered powerless by Jesus on the cross but that does not mean he isn’t trying to set up strongholds in our lives. This is why we need to build a spiritual wall with spiritual gates. When it comes to building spiritual gates Romans 13 comes to mind. Here are some more verses to keep in mind.

Romans 8; Colossians 2&3; Hebrews 1:3, 2:1-4, 3:1-19, 4:1-16

We need to make sure we are robed in the righteousness of Christ and build the wall.

Let no stronghold from the world remain.

Pastor Dave