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Although the theme of rebuilding Jerusalem's wall is often connected with the Book of Nehemiah, we must understand that the wall symbolically represents the community of God's people. The wall creates their identity because by it they are protected and interlinked.
|Book of Nehemiah
A careful observation of the Book of Nehemiah reveals even more important tasks than rebuilding the city wall in order to rebuild the people of God. It is inadequate to be satisfied with a city that has tall skyscrapers but does not have law and order. Modern societies to different degrees are facing what it is like to have a form of organization but disorder in the lives of people.
Nehemiah, the governor, called the people to reassemble before God. Each chapter holds a special emphasis on one facet of restoration. The enemies were not located just on the outside of the walls but also on the inside. It was this 'inside' culprit that before had foiled Israel.
It is naive to think that restoration of the physical walls of a city is the same as true restoration. We can easily remember a time when the walls of Jerusalem were intact but the evil within the walls provoked God to tear those walls down. Inner restoration comes before outer.
The people of God must refuse the common thought that everything is good if we again can live in Jerusalem and "come back to this place." This notion is commonly seen in the hope of building a good organizational church organization. God's idea is not just to get us a home in heavenly Jerusalem but to restore us that we might resemble Him here on earth.
The key to understanding the Book of Nehemiah is the place prayer took in the steps of restoration. Prayer is honest talk with God depicting the prophet's dependence upon God.
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Sometimes Nehemiah prayed for for wisdom, sometimes for deliverance, but it was always God that Nehemiah, God's faithful servant, turned toward.
Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach." (Nehemiah 2:17).
What are God's expectations and what are man's? We can get a good picture of Nehemiah's heart through the way he repeatedly asked God to remember something in his prayers.
|Remember the word
|"Remember the word which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; (Nehemiah 1:8).
|Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people. (Nehemiah 5:19).
|Remember ... these works of theirs
|Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me. (Nehemiah 6:14).
|Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my loyal deeds which I have performed for the house of my God and its services. (Nehemiah 13:14).
|And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come as gatekeepers to sanctify the sabbath day. For this also remember me, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Thy lovingkindness. (Nehemiah 13:22).
|Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. (Nehemiah 13:29).
|And I arranged for the supply of wood at appointed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good. (Nehemiah 13:31).
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988