GUARDING the DOORS of our LIVES
May 19 Bible Reading: Nehemiah Chapters 7-9
And I (Nehemiah) said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house." (Neh. 7:3)
Bruce Wilkinson says this about Ezra and Nehemiah..."While Ezra deals primarily with the religious restoration of God's people, Nehemiah is concerned with the political, geographical, and economic restoration. The first seven chapters (of the book of Nehemiah) are devoted to the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls because Jerusalem was the political and spiritual center of God's people. Without walls, Jerusalem could hardly be considered a city at all. Ezra and Nehemiah worked together to rebuild the people spiritually and morally so that the restoration would be complete."
The focus of rebuilding activities in Nehemiah is on the walls of Jerusalem. The walls of the city had lain in ruins since 586 B.C. Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had breached them, entered Jerusalem, burned the temple, carried most of the remaining Jews off to Babylon, and knocked the walls down. Consequently the few Jews who remained could not defend themselves (2 Kings 25:1-11). The returned exiles had attempted to rebuild the walls in or shortly after 458 B.C., but that project had failed because of local opposition (Ezra 4:12, 23). However, despite much opposition from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, Nehemiah and the Jews had now finally rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and hung the doors securing the city.
Nehemiah, having finished the wall, returned to the Persian court, and came to Jerusalem again with a new commission. He knew that the safety of a city, under God, depends more upon the inhabitants than upon its walls. That is the reason that he instructed his brother Hanani and Hananiah (the leader of the citadel) that they should take utmost care to shut the gates of Jerusalem and stand guard both at the watch station and in front of every house. Only the doors should be opened during clear and broad daylight when the people are ready in case of an assault from the enemy. (Neh. 7:2-3). As Isaiah 62:6 tell us: "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent."