Most people think the book of Nehemiah is about building a wall. But if that's true, how is it that the wall was completed at the end of Chapter 6 in a book of 13 chapters? We're not even half way through the book and the work is done? It can't be. Could it be that the book is not about the wall but about something more?
If you remember the opening incident in the book, the issue was that the the exiles in Jerusalem were "in great trouble and shame" (Nehemiah 1:3). One example was that the walls were destroyed and the gates were burned by fire. This had been the case for 140 years but it was now time that God was going to do something about it. When Nehemiah said something to King Artaxerxes, he stated that the city of his father's graves was in ruins (Nehemiah 2:2). When Nehemiah was calling on the people of Jerusalem to rise up and build, he pointed out that Jerusalem lies in ruin and that the people were suffering derision (Nehemiah 2:17). The extraordinary mission was not to go build a wall. The wall is not the issue here. The physical condition of the city is not the problem here either. Both of these are but symptoms of the real problem.
The reason God's people went into exile in the first place was due to their rebellion toward God. They had turned their backs and no longer trusted in the Lord. This is the same war that is fought in our hearts every day. Trust God or think we know better. Believe what God says is true, or try to write our own playbook. It started in the Garden back in Genesis and continues even today. Battle after battle, it's war!
We can work really hard to win one battle against sin only to burnout and give in the next day. We can take a season to put all our strength toward rebuilding a wall. We can white-knuckle it with all our power. Or we can learn to trust in the Lord's strength. Building a wall is a single-battle; living in Christ is the victory.
Nehemiah faced this problem. No sooner was the wall complete then more attack came. Nehemiah 6:15-16 celebrates a battle won. Two verses, that's it (at this point., anyway They do celebrate it a more a little later.). Nehemiah 6:17 and the following verses reminds the reader that the war rages on. The wall was but one battle.
Too often, we win the battle but lose the victory. We rest so firmly in a single battle won rather than resting in our Lord who won that battle for us. And when we learn to trust in the one fighting our battles, we participate in the victory Jesus won on the cross. When we white-knuckle the battles by our own power, we miss the gospel all together.
We'll be discussing this more in our Fellowship Groups this week and I'll be preaching on it on Sunday. I hope you'll be our guest!
Let us not win the battle but miss the victory!