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.” Nehemiah 2:17 (NIV)
I’ve always told my children, You’ll never enjoy a life surrounded by walls. Your walls won’t only keep others away; they’ll also hold you captive. I recently realized this is not totally true. Walls don’t always keep us captive; walls can provide the needed protection for believers to live in the freedom offered to every child of God. It is wise to examine the walls surrounding us to determine whether they are constructed out of fear or designed by God. I want to explore the walls surrounding our lives and decide if we are surrounded by walls of deception or walls of truth.
We are exploring the book of Nehemiah. In order for Nehemiah’s story to make sense, let’s begin with a bit of background history. True to God’s promise of judgment, He used the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem because Judah had persisted in her unfaithfulness to the covenant. In the process the Temple and walls were plundered and destroyed and the Israelites were taken into captivity to Babylon. Years later, Babylon was conquered by King Cyrus of Persia, and he gave Ezra and Nehemiah permission to return home with the people of Judah to rebuild the city—the walls and the Temple. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he saw the completed Temple, but nothing to protect it from damage. Nehemiah could not control his emotions as he cried and prayed. While studying the life of Nehemiah, I couldn’t get past the fact God asked Nehemiah to rebuild the city wall to protect the new Temple. As I read the story of the rebuilding of the city walls, I realized walls are for our protection—not our destruction. I recognize Nehemiah’s story is about his assignment from God to rebuild the city walls and to protect the Temple. I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned from the principles Nehemiah applied to remain faithful to his call. It’s my desire for us to apply these same principles to our lives so that we will not grow weary, but be surrounded by the protection and love of our God. Nehemiah was faithful to the calling on his life. In the face of opposition, Nehemiah found the heart to continue and chose to trust God while refusing to be discouraged by the jealousy, insults, and greed of others.
When I began my own renovation of tearing down the walls built out of fear in my life, I allowed God to show me the difference between walls of pretense and authentic walls. I lived under the enslavement of self-imposed walls for years until God used circumstances and people to force me to tear down those walls and surrender to live under the protection only He can provide. It is so easy to build walls after experiencing the pain of lies that pierce our hearts and leave us wounded, discouraged, and hopeless. In order to rebuild our lives, we must replace the shame and guilt that destroyed our foundation with God’s forgiveness and hope.
It’s interesting Nehemiah examined the destruction of the walls at night instead of during the day. Oftentimes, we are most willing to face the shattered pieces of our past during our darkest hours and find hope among the destruction of shame and guilt. The problem with new construction is we can’t begin to rebuild until the old walls, which pose a threat to our freedom in Christ, are torn down. It’s important to note Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls surrounding the Temple. The Temple represented the presence of God. When speaking of the walls surrounding our lives, I’m referring to our lives as a followers of Jesus. I firmly believe God offers protection from any possible danger that would discourage us in our Christian walk. God is our Mighty Fortress, and He will be faithful to protect our lives in Him. As long as we live within the walls of His truth, God promises to protect us from any danger that will discourage and disappoint us as His child.
- Read the book of Nehemiah several times and pay close attention to the rebuilding of the wall surrounding the Temple. Notice Nehemiah’s response and the response of others.
- Have you been hurt by others? Even other Christians?
- Have you built a wall of protection around your life to guard against being hurt?
- Do you fear letting your guard down and allowing others into your life?
- Are you willing to ask God to remove any fear keeping you from trusting Him to protect you from being hurt by others?
- Will you allow Him to tear down walls of deception and use His truth to build walls for your protection?
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