Friday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Nehemiah 2:11-20; 4:1-6 (NKJV)
2:11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” 20 So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
4:1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
As soon as Jerusalem began to be built up, opposition arose. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab laugh the Judahites to scorn. Their attack consists of words. They despise Jerusalem and her God. They question Nehemiah’s authority to do the work, accusing Him of rebelling against the king. Yet Nehemiah rebuffed their accusations and mockery with the shield of faith, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah was called by God, through the king, to perform this task. He would build up Jerusalem in spite of the enemy’s assaults.
When we consider that the Old Testament Jerusalem is a prefiguring of the New Testament Church we can see the parallels. In every generation there are attacks on this heavenly Jerusalem. False teachers war against the fortifications of the heavenly city using human reason and imagination. The world mocks the Church as she fortifies herself with the true doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Yet in every generation the Lord calls men to survey the damage done and to repair the breaches with the Holy Gospel. Our pastors are then to rebuild and fortify that which the devil has broken with sin and the false prophets have weakened by their teaching, so that God may be glorified and souls gathered into this Jerusalem through the pure Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.
We pray: Lord God, preserve Your Church on earth, frail though she may seem, and fortify us by Your heavenly doctrine against the devil, world, and our flesh, in Jesus’ name. Amen.