PART 2: WHO ARE INVOLVED IN THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS?
TIME FOR A QUICK – BUT IMPORTANT – RECAP
Why are the walls of Jerusalem broken down?
Because the Israelites were unfaithful to the LORD their God. They went after other gods to help and protect them (while still saying that they followed the One, True, God), and they compromised their life-styles with the cultural ways of those who lived amongst them (while still maintaining that they followed the One, True, God).
And why are the spiritual walls of the Church broken down?
The same reason as with the Israelites I am ashamed to say! The Church in our nation has been unfaithful to God Almighty. The Church has looked to other “gods” to manage all its problems – armies, diplomacy, science, philosophy, materialism, worldly-wisdom; and has compromised its faithfulness through accepting other religions and other world-views such as Post-Modernism.
And when “walls” are broken down the Church becomes weak, and afraid and ridiculed. And when its “gates” are burnt the church allows the world’s ways to enter.
We MUST rebuild the “walls”. We MUST cry out “build Your Church LORD, make it strong LORD!”.
Before we look at the “What and the How?” we must look at the “WHO?” – who is involved in the rebuilding of the walls. Let us look at the story of Nehemiah to answer this question and take note of all those involved then – and now – in “Rebuilding the Walls”…
NEHEMIAH 1: 11 – 2: 1-9
I was cupbearer to the king
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors 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 favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’
6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’ It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
7 I also said to him, ‘If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?’ And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
- NEHEMIAH – THE SON OF HAKALIAH
I have no idea of his background. I just know that he was one of the exiles living in Susa – one of the capital cities of the Persian Empire. I assume he was born in exile. I also assume that he was a man of education and that he was highly thought of – he was Cupbearer to the King. Now THAT was an important job…not only did he bear the drink to the King, but he had to taste it first to ensure it was not poisoned. This was a position of importance, only given to someone in whom the King had complete trust. There’s nothing to suggest he was a priest and nothing to suggest he was one of the elders of Israel in exile.
But he was God’s man of the moment. Why? Maybe because God saw his heart and his passion for God’s work. Here was a man after God’s own heart, a man who wept and repented because of the broken-down walls and burnt-down gates of Jerusalem. And verse 1 shows that Nehemiah had been praying for four months solid before things began to happen… so be patient.
This is the “number one” man involved in the rebuilding of the walls. He was the “leader of the gang” who were to do the job.
If we are going to see the walls of the Church in this nation rebuilt, then we need God-raised leaders. People of passion, men and women, who are going to drive the work on. Who are going to do what it takes and talk to those who are going to be key in getting the job done.
I believe in leaders. They don’t have to be “priests” (those who have been to Bible College or seminary, those who have the title of “reverend” or who wear a “dog collar”) and they don’t have to be Elders (those who have been officially recognised by the Church). But without a leader nothing gets done. The “Remnant” had been back in Jerusalem for years, but the walls had not even been started on. A leader is needed to get things done. Let us pray for the Nehemiah-kind-of-leader to rise up in our church and in the Church of our nation – men and women who will motivate us, inspire us and drive us forward. Don’t be misled by those who say that we go forward by joint decisions alone. This is not Biblical. From the days of Abraham, through the leadership of Moses and then Joshua, through the Judges, then the Kings, through Jesus and the Apostles, there is always a need for a person of calling and dynamic leadership to…well…LEAD. Let us pray for the Nehemiah-kind-of-leader to rise up in our church and in the Church of our nation.
- KING ARTAXERXES OF PERSIA
Now he was instrumental in the rebuilding of the walls…and he was not even anywhere near Jerusalem! But without him the project would not even have got off the ground. He not only gave permission for the walls to be rebuilt, he not only released Nehemiah from his service to get the walls rebuilt, but he provided finances and protection for the whole venture. And not only was he not a Jew but he was the very political representative of the society which had placed the Jews into exile!
We need an Artaxerxes in our calling to rebuild the ruined walls of the Church. This might be a political leader – a veritable “Boris Johnson”, or a financial backer, or a spokesperson from the media or entertainment – a veritable “Marcus Rashford” no less!
Not only might they not even be a disciple of Jesus, but they might be seen to be “in bed” with those who we identify as being those who have been the enemy who have broken down our spiritual walls in the first place.
So wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see, through prayer (remember that Nehemiah did nothing until he had prayed and fasted), such a person rise-up who will give us the national, cultural, and societal support that we need to get those spiritual walls rebuilt.
Let us pray for a King Artaxerxes to be found today who will give us what we need to rebuild those walls.
NEHEMIAH 2: 11-18
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate towards the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on towards the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and re-entered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
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 on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.
- THE ELDERS, THE PRIESTS, AND THE OTHER LEADERS
The Jews had their leaders…they didn’t lead all the people, but they led some of the people. There were the leaders of each of the tribal units and the clans in Jerusalem; there were the priests and the Levites; there were the administrators and the business men. Under the command of Nehemiah they would motivate their “teams”, their families, their employees, to do their bit.
No man can do it all themselves. No one man can lead if no-one follows. Thank God for the leaders of groups, of works, of clubs. Pray that they listen to the leaders of the churches. Pray that they are impassioned and motivated to take up the vision to rebuild the walls of our Church in this nation. Pray that God raises up the right leaders of teams and groups – spiritual men and women who are fully committed to the Vision. Pray for our Leadership Team, for our Elders, for our Deacons, for our Housegroup leaders, our Ladies’ Group leaders, our young people’s leaders. Without their determined commitment to rebuilding, nothing will happen.
NEHEMIAH 2: 19-20
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?’
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.’
- THE OPPOSITION
It was not all “one-way traffic”. The moment that the Jews seriously proposed rebuilding the walls the opposition came out – those who hated God’s people and wanted to stop the work so that Jerusalem remained weak.
Let us not be surprised that as we determine, with God’s help and guidance, to rebuild the walls of the Church, the opposition to the Church will galvanise in its determination to stop us. As we shall see in future messages, our role is not to be surprised at opposition but to be prepared for opposition. And who shall the opposition be for us? We can make some inspired guesses…but we must wait and see.
NEHEMIAH 3: 1-12 (AND FOLLOWING)
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.
3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. 5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.[a]
6 The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. 7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah – Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth – places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. 8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. 10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.
- THE “ARMY OF ORDINARY PEOPLE”
Who are all these people? I can’t even pronounce their names, let alone have any idea who they are! The bottom line is this: to rebuild the walls the overall leader (Nehemiah) was essential; the “team” leaders (Elders, priests, etc) were essential; but without the vast body of “Joe Public” doing the work then it would not have happened. The walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt because ALL put their backs into it – men and women (note that…it’s clearly stated in verse 12).
In the same way, the walls of the Church will only be rebuilt because EVERYONE steps up to the mark. And you can’t say “I am too young” or “I am too old”…I think it is implicit that the young were the “powder monkeys” who brought tools and materials to those who built the walls, and that the old were the prayer warriors and those who catered for the food needs of the wall-builders. “An army marches on its stomach” in no vain boast – those who provide are equal in value to those who work with brick and mortar.
Pray that you have the passion and determination to be one of the builders of the walls of the Church. Pray that all others may have the same enthusiasm too.
And here’s something tremendous for you to hold on to…why are these names mentioned? Because God knows each of us by name; and, although your name might mean nothing to anyone else, you are so special to God that He knows you by name and wants to celebrate you as you help to rebuild the walls of the Church.
The walls of the church have been broken down; the gates of the church have been burned with fire.
Are you, and am I, passionate about rebuilding the walls of the church?
If so…then recognise and embrace that ALL are involved. ALL are necessary.
And what do these walls look like? Well…we will look at that next time.