Advice to the People of Jerusalem Still Guides Us
Le Château de St. Albain.
"The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build" -- Nehemiah 2:20
The first day of 2013 is about to dawn and I am reading the book of Nehemiah. This book was the subject of a Sunday School class I once taught and it has much advice for us today. The story opens with Nehemiah, one of the Jewish exiles in the Persian court, receiving a visitor from the ruined city of Jerusalem. Hanani, one of his brethren, tells him of the sorry state of the people in the once great city. They are defenseless and troubled by enemies all around them. The walls that once protected the city have been reduced to piles of charred rubble.
But what can a man in exile do? Nehemiah weeps when he learns of the plight of his beloved people, but he is a servant to the king. A man in exile, what can he possibly do to help them?
Nehemiah begins with prayer. His heart is not suddenly lifted, for he appears before the king with great sorrow showing in his countenance. Normally such kings tolerated no sorrow before them -- you were supposed to look overjoyed at the opportunity to serve the ruler, but Nehemiah had obviously served well and gained the respect of the king. The king asks him directly why he is so sad and when Nehemiah describes his sorrow at the plight of his beloved city, he finds an unlikely ally in an even more unlikely chain of events.
Nehemiah finds himself traveling to Jerusalem with letters of introduction and financial support for the rebuilding! He arrives in the city and makes an inspection of the ruins by night.
Now each family begins work on the section of wall nearest their houses. The third chapter of the book of Nehemiah lists family after family, all joined in the work of building. Shallum, one of the rulers of Jerusalem, is assisted by his daughters, but the nobles of the Tekoites won't work. Nonetheless, the Tekoites, without their nobles, rebuild two sections.
The work was not without opposition. In fact, the people had to work with their swords by their side. Some of Nehemiah's enemies tried to distract him. They called for him to meet with them:
came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and
the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that
there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up
the doors upon the gates;) That
Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together
in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do
me mischief. And
I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I
cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and
come down to you?" -- Nehemiah 6:1-3.
So today, I will seek G-d, beseeching Him on behalf of my own troubled country. Then, when I see where He is working, I will rush to join Him. Indeed, whatever our times hold for us, He is building His Kingdom:
"And Jesus went about
all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching
the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease
among the people. But
when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them,
because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no
shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." -- Matthew 9:35-38.
Le Château de St. Albain.