John Summerville, Elder
There is an old stone wall running along the side of our property that was probably a stone hedge to contain cows in a pasture back in the 19th century. I thought it would look nice to have the wall back to its original glory and have spent many hours / days/ weeks of time stacking stone and straining back muscles. I’ve been working on this for several years and still have a ways to go. It takes time to fit, stack, and shim the irregular stones so that they don’t rock and make a wobbly wall.
The wall around Jerusalem was, of course, a much bigger deal. Nehemiah’s God-given mission was to rebuild the wall and replace the gates. And, yet, if it was just a construction project, we probably wouldn’t find the account in God’s Word. Just as the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, so was the relationship of the Israelite people with their God. As the appointed governor, Nehemiah used the Law of Moses and traditions passed down from king David to establish guidelines for a right and lasting relationship with God. Policies regarding intermarriage, provision for the priests and Levites, the sanctity of the Sabbath and tithing, were reestablished. By having Ezra read and interpret the Law and by insisting on obedience, Nehemiah helped the people rebuild their relationship with God.
Just as it has taken me several years to rebuild my stone hedge it takes time to build a firm (not wobbly) relationship with God. When it comes to restoration, God has already restored our relationship through Jesus Christ. All we have to do is respond and build on the firm foundation that Jesus has established. May we not neglect this gift but devote our lives to the work that God has prepared, in advance for us to do. It is not a wall. It is much more important and lasting than that.