WEEPING over the BROKEN WALLS
May 17 Bible Reading: Nehemiah Chapters 1-3
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I (Nehemiah) was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." So it was, when I heard these words that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. (Neh. 1:1-4)
Nehemiah served as the official cupbearer of King Artaxerxes of Babylon even though he was a Jew displaced by the Babylonian captivity. As a high official of the king’s court, Nehemiah had immediate access to the king as the king trusted him to serve wine that was not poisoned. Nehemiah had everything that he could ask for – position, worldly success, power, wealth, etc. However, he was concerned about his own people who had survived the Babylonian captivity and lived in Jerusalem. Upon inquiry Nehemiah came to know that the Jews were greatly distressed due to the broken wall of Jerusalem and the absence of any gates upon the walls that were burned with fire (Neh. 1:1-3).
Upon hearing this terrible news, Nehemiah sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for many days to God (Neh. 1:4-11). This reflects the tender heart of Nehemiah, and the passion that he had for the city of Jerusalem where the temple of God was built. In the absence of a strong wall to surround the city and proper gates to regulate the entry and exit of people, the security of God’s temple was compromised. What else could Nehemiah do being away in a foreign country under the authority of a foreign king who had absolute power over him but to weep, fast and pray over this matter? It is possible that Nehemiah wept and prayed over this matter for over three months at least – from the time he heard the bad news in the month of Kislev ~ Nov/Dec (Neh. 1:1) to the time he presented his burden to the king in the month of Nissan ~ Mar/Apr (Neh. 2:1). While Nehemiah prayed, God enlightened him with a plan and he could thoroughly prepare himself before he showed himself sorrowful to the king. That was the reason why Nehemiah had a plan of action ready when the king asked him what he needed to alleviate his distress (Neh. 2:5-8).
Like Nehemiah, we should also feel the burden and weep concerning the broken walls of God’s kingdom and work towards improving the current situation. Our Lord Jesus Christ had promised us: "...I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18). However, lately we are seeing much causality in the body of Christ. Immorality, politics and compromise are rampant within the church leadership and laity. How true is the following statement? - “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls." (Prov. 25:28). It is high time for us to weep over the broken walls and work towards rebuilding them like Nehemiah did in his time!