A City Without Walls

by Joanna Pierce on March 09, 2017

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:1–3, KJV).

Background

The year is 446 BC and 90 years have transpired since the Nation of Israel has returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. Before their captivity, Israel was in a state of complete disregard for God, so He sent the prophet Jeremiah among the people. Jeremiah prophesied captivity for the Jewish people for a period of 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11). But, Jeremiah prophesied at the end of the 70 years, the exiled families would be released, return to Jerusalem, and restore the temple and their worship to God (Jeremiah 29:10–14).

Israel was released in 536 BC after exactly 70 years of captivity by King Cyrus. The release of the people by King Cyrus was prophesied by Isaiah 2 centuries before Cyrus was even born (Isaiah 44:24–28). While the goal of the captivity was to abolish the culture of the Jewish people and to destroy their sense of self-worth, one positive thing came from the exile—polytheism was forever expelled from the Jewish mindset. Jehovah would be the only God they would serve (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Rebuilding the Temple

Ezra records the rebuilding of the temple, which took 20 years to complete. In 516 BC, the temple was rededicated. The forgiveness of the Jewish people was evident in their return to Jerusalem. The restored relationship with God is symbolized in the rebuilding of the temple. But, in all of this, there was still 1 thing missing. Jerusalem’s walls were broken down and the gates had been burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:3).

The city of Jerusalem was in ruin. The people were able to reestablish their worship, but unable to reestablish the rulership. They had a complete rebirth, but not a complete recovery. This story is a type of people who have a wonderful experience with God—they’re filled with the Holy Ghost and are momentarily “saved.” But, the struggles with the flesh don’t disappear overnight. And, the journey of a relationship with God is just beginning.

We must allow the Spirit of God to continually restore us; deliverance from a life of sin is a process. Salvation comes in a moment, but full restoration will take time. We must work to build up a spiritual walk with God that partakes in every day communion with Him. We all have “rubble” in our lives we need to eradicate and rebuild, and we sometimes get weary in our day-to-day life—we might need hope to keep us going. The Jewish people were getting a little run down in trying to rebuild the walls of the city and needed hope and encouragement. In this situation, hope came in the form of a man named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah

Nehemiah means consolation of God. When destruction is all around us, hope and consolation comes from the delivering Spirit of God. Our spiritual walk must be one of maturity; maturity will come as we continue to seek after God and allow the Holy Ghost to complete a work in our life. We must allow God, and His Spirit, to be the ruler over our life. We cannot walk after the fleshly desires and do what we think is right—the Spirit of God must lead and guild us (Romans 8:10–13).

In Genesis, with the fall of man, humans lost 1) our relationship with God and 2) rulership (authority) under God. In our pursuit of God and a relationship with Him, we must also seek to allow Him to be Lord over us while we’re on this earth even before we make it to Heaven!

Recovery of Rulership

Rulership is the recovery of self-control and personal identity. We cannot just be a believer, but a mature believer. We must be a city with walls! We have a life-long journey to repair what sin has done in our lives. Once we restore our temple (our relationship with God) we need to work on the walls (our behaviors) (Proverbs 25:28).

When we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we enter into a new dimension of responsibility. God has empowered us with characteristics He wants us to be and things He wants us to do. We need to work on us (inside and out) to strengthen and build up ourselves in God. We can’t stay the same!

There was a destroyed gate in Jerusalem symbolizing a lack of focus on government and ability to keep back the adversary. If we don’t watch our own gates, we’ll allow the enemy to come in and rule over our lives and have control over us. Without gates, Israel focused on God when they were inside of the temple, but once outside, their focus was not on God. The day-to-day life with God was missing. We need the rulership of God in our life every day—we need our gates!

Motivation to Rebuild

Our spirit and soul must be subject unto God in everything (Luke 1:46–47). The soul is comprised of 3 parts: 1) mind (intellect/thoughts), 2) emotions (temperament/feelings), and 3) will (choices/decisions). What motivates us is generated by the mind and our actions are carried out by our will. Humans will determine the direction and destiny of their life. In the process of salvation, our soul (will) will repent, the body is baptized, and the spirit is filled with the Holy Ghost. If the soul is dysfunctional/disobedient, the whole person is affected.

Broken walls will hinder the control of a city just as the soul can hinder the process of us being a child of God. We must immerse ourselves in God’s culture and in the process of becoming more spiritually mature. We must allow the Holy Ghost to change us—this is determined by our will! We must emulate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Once we get that motivation in our soul to rebuild a relationship with God, we’ll see results. Nehemiah helped to rebuild the city in 52 days! Jerusalem was no longer just a place of a spiritual experience, but a city!

How to Build Walls

Everything comes down to 2 things: 1) prayer and 2) practice. In Nehemiah, in 13 chapters, Nehemiah prayed 17 different times. He didn’t do anything without praying first—to understand the work, he prayed; to get direction, he prayed; to ask for help, he prayed.

In one of Nehemiah’s prayers (Nehemiah 1:5–11), he praised and worshipped first, acknowledged sin, prayed God’s will, prayed for obedience to God’s will, and then asked for a specific need. The most important aspect of rebuilding walls is to go and do after our prayer time. We need to put our prayer into practice! If we ask for help, God will empower us to get the job done—to rebuild the walls of our city. Let’s get busy and start to rebuild any broken down walls and gates in our lives today!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 8, 2017 with Pastor Nave