Convict cautioned and discharged
Jun 8, 2012, 1:45 PM
“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin…” (Jeremiah 16:17)
When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins and that the burnt-down gates had not been repaired, it broke his heart. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Jeremiah 1:4) Naturally, what must have pained him so deeply was the disgraceful and shameful state in which the Holy City of God was clothed. Furthermore, it seemed nothing could have been done to salvage the situation, particularly as opposition to attempts to restore the city had mounted through self-interest; resulting in low morale. Jerusalem had become an eyesore having lost all its past glory.
However, Nehemiah did not despair. He prayed during four months that God would grant him favour so that something could be done. Why were the walls of Jerusalem in such a state; what had led to it and why had nothing been done about it, you wonder?There is no smoke without fire.
Foreign kings from surrounding enemy territory had always had their eyes on Jerusalem and several bitter battles have been fought to conquer it. For years they had come up against the likes of kings Saul, David and Solomon, all of whom had put up strong resistance. All through these battles the hand of God had been made manifest on behalf of his chosen people, the Jews. However, with time, the Children of Israel had become disobedient and wayward, breaking God’s laws regarding worshipping and offering sacrifice to idols and foreign gods, marrying women from other tribes, taking the name of the Lord in vain and sacrificing their children - to catalogue but a few. “Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.” (Jeremiah 2:11) In spite of the diverse warnings from God’s prophets, this stiff-necked people perpetrated their evil deeds, and in so doing distanced themselves from God.
Therefore whenever they waged war without turning from their wicked ways, God literally handed them over to their enemies. Often, the causalities were heavy. Many young men and girls were taken into exile, the cities plundered and their valuables seized. Not until they had repented of their sins and returned to God were they forgiven and the upper hand on their enemies regained. The Jews were then scattered in the nations that conquered them. “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.” (Jeremiah 5:19)
On one of such raids, Daniel and his three comrades: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were taken into exile in Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar. Naaman, the Syrian general had also taken a girl captive who became his wife’s house help. In like manner Esther and her uncle Mordecai found themselves in Persia. After a long spell in exile, God heeded to their cry and showed compassion. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture …” (Jeremiah 23:3) It was in such an atmosphere that Zerubbabel returned to rebuild the temple, Ezra to carry out reforms andNehemiah to re-erect broken walls.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
It was no mere accident that Nehemiah found himself in the king’s palace in Persia as a key government official when the news reached him about the state of Jerusalem’s broken walls. It is evident that God had put him there for such an appropriate time like that and for his glory. That was the case with Esther in the king’s palace as spouse; with Daniel as one of the main counsellors in the king’s court, and with Joseph as second-in-command in Egypt. All of them had a role to plan in the realisation of God’s plan and in the return and rebuilding of the Jewish nation. All of them had access to the ultimate authority of that land and enjoyed special influence to bring about a change. Nehemiah occupied a very important function as cupbearer – a privileged position for a foreigner, a position of trust.
Nehemiah had lived most of his life in exile but he still had a heart for what was happening home. When his folks heard he was in a position to influence the king in the face of the difficulties they had encountered, they sent word to him about the state of the holy city. He neither folded his hands nor declined action on the basis of distance. No! He used his position at the opportune time to expose the problem to the king who gave him full support – both morally and financially.
Has God put in your heart to help rebuild ‘broken walls’ based not only on your position but on the need? Broken walls may not necessarily mean city walls. There are walls in our nation, in our communities and families that need rebuilding and restoration. What is your stand? Are you standing aloof or turning a deaf ear or are you mobilising to do something about it?
Let us all take our cue from Nehemiah – the rebuilder of broken walls.
You probably have a broken relationship that you have carried along with you over a decade, it is now badly in need of repairs. What have you done about it? What do you intend to do about your ‘broken walls ‘with your spouse, your in-law, your neighbour, your brother or sister, your friend? These walls need to be mended or they will deteriorate into further ruin.