We all have the walls around us at all times of life. We’ve all built them either for holding God in the midst and separating ourselves from the wickedness of the world or trying to hide ourselves inside a wall to cover up our sins. They are unseen, yet they effectively hold us back from being the person we should be or should not be. Brick by brick we build our wall. Some are higher than others. But we should be able to recognise what sort of a wall is there around us. They can be either spiritual walls or worldly walls. Spiritual walls relate to the strength and stability of our Christian testimony. They relate to our capability of defending the faith, moral strength in time of temptation and also relate to our ability to separate from the unbiblical values and attitudes of this world’s system. If we have this wall of salvation around us then we are safe and secure. The walled city will be much stronger and more easily defended. The wall clearly sets the city apart from the surrounding countryside. God wants a spiritual wall to surround us but not a wall that doesn’t allow Him to enter. God wants to see strong, solid believers with a testimony that is plainly visible in this dark world. He wants to see Christians with a consistent lifestyle that is distinctly Biblical even if it means a painful separation from the values and the attitudes of the surrounding world. If we do not have this there is always a possibility that the world gets in to us and becomes a wall between God and us (Isaiah59:2). Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land God commanded them to destroy the walls of Jericho so that they can have a break through. We are living in days of battle and spiritual struggle. We need to know how to fight. We need to know that our God is able to give the victory. Just as Israel faced the formidable walls of Jericho, we face walls and obstacles in our lives as well. We need to know how to over come them as we march towards the victory. When we face these obstacles we must learn not to look upon our obstacles as dead-ends, but as opportunities for the Lord to work in our lives.
In the book of Joshua, God commanded Joshua to capture Jericho by breaking the walls down. The children of Israel have moved from the wilderness of worry to the promised land of peace. The first city they came to after crossing Jordan is Jericho. Jericho is considered the greatest walled fortress of all times, and a military citadel unparalleled in those days, with walls so thick that chariots could traverse atop of them. From a human perspective it was considered as an unconquerable city. The Battle of Jericho is described in the Bible (Joshua6:1-27) as the first battle of the Israelites during their conquest of Canaan. The plan was so crazy only God is the conceiver. According to the narrative, the walls of Jericho fell after Joshua’s Israelite army marched around the city blowing their trumpets according to the plan of God that was revealed to Joshua. God was still at work these six days. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times and the priests were to blow their ram’s horns. This Joshua did, and he commanded his people not to give a war-cry until he told them to do so. On the seventh day, the walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites were able to charge straight into the city. The city was completely destroyed, and every man, woman, and child in it was killed. Only Rehab and her family were spared, because she had hidden the two spies sent by Joshua. After this Joshua burned the remains of the city and cursed any man who would rebuild the city of Jericho would do so at the cost of his firstborn son. Thus Joshua was able to conquer the city. God’s people had neither tools nor weapons that could break down the obstacles ahead. But “nothing is impossible with God”; for “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) This has a resemblance to our lives. Each of us has a walled city in our lives. A place of hopeless defeat we don’t think we can conquer- a barrier that stands in our way separating us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Just as Israel faced the formidable walls of Jericho, we face walls and obstacles in our lives as well. We need to know how to over come them as we march towards the victory. When we come to our Jericho, we have only two choices: flee from it or face it. To flee, there’s only one place to go…back into the wilderness. And that should not be an option. When we face our Jericho we have to do it in God’s way. Breaking the walls of Jericho humanly speaking is impossible. But the word of God says in “Hebrews 11:30 – By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days”.
What kind of walled city are we facing right now? Does it appear to be unconquerable? Do the walls look too high and do they appear too thick? Does it seem that victory is absolutely impossible in our case? If the walls haven’t already fallen down flat, remember they can! They can fall right now if we bring to the feet of our Saviour! We need to take a lesson from Israel and start handling our Jericho’s in the ways of God. Many of the major strongholds we are facing will not fall simply or quickly. Through the power of the Word of God, prayer and praise the walls of the enemy will be shattered, slowly but surely. These barriers have to be shattered and every stronghold reduced if we want to follow Him day by day. Faith can move mountains, bring down walls, heal us and remove all obstacles in our path. Joshua was out looking at the problem…those insurmountable walls. Looking at the walls leads to fear. But looking at God led him to faith. So we should get our eyes off the problem and keep them on the Lord. Some people spend their whole lives gazing up at the walls of their Jericho saying, nothing can be done! “Fear is looking at God thru your problems. Faith is looking at your problems thru God!” Joshua never went back looking at the strength of the walls but he depended on the strength of God. He listened and obeyed the plan of God. He surrendered his ability to the capability of God. When we realize that we cannot get victory over that stubborn wall that has become a hindrance to the presence of God, give it to the Lord and see victory happen through Christ by faith! Destroy the walls of Jericho (sin) completely. Don’t ever try to build it again (Joshua 6:26) because every thing inside is cursed by God and there is no presence of God where we can have safety.
If we consider that God gave us the story of Jericho because he wants to break down the walls of our hearts and let Himself in, He gave us the challenges of Nehemiah to teach us that only with God’s help we can actually change ourselves and recover from the damage and ruin of the past and rebuild the walls that are broken. In an individual’s life once the walls of Jericho are broken down the rebuilding or restoration of the walls should take place. The walls of salvation are set by God and walls of sin are set by us. The word of God talks about the walls of salvation in Isaiah 26:1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; we have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Isaiah 60:18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shall call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
Once we break the walls that are grieving the spirit of God, there is always a need to protect ourselves from the darts of satan. Hence we have to build a strong fort around us. Some times we ourselves can build with the help of the Spirit of God and at times some one has to intervene and build the walls that are broken. The book of Nehemiah is designed to teach us that only with God’s help we can actually change ourselves and recover from the damage and ruin of the past. In an individual’s life the rebuilding of the walls is nothing but restoration of people from ruins and despair to a new walk with God. Jerusalem is the place where God desires to dwell. But Jerusalem in ruins reflects the life that has lost its defenses against attack and lies open to repeated hurt and misery. The book of Nehemiah depicts the way of recovery from breakdown and ruin to a condition of peace, security, restored order, and usefulness. According to the New Testament it is not the actual place where God dwells but man is to be the dwelling place of God. That is the great secret that humanity has largely lost today. But for this reason Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross.
If we notice the description of Jerusalem in the Book of Nehemiah, the people were in trouble. They were feeling a great sense of disgrace and reproach. The walls of the city were broken down. The gates had been burned with fire and were no longer usable. If we take Jerusalem as a symbol of our own lives, there are many people, who fit this description. There are places where the walls have been broken down. There is no longer any ability left to resist destructive attacks. The walls of our city are broken down. Perhaps our gates have been burned and destroyed, again by wrong habits or may be a life that has no connection with God. May be we have been so badly burned. There are parts of our life we cannot talk about. May be we do not want anyone to know. We have a sense of great personal distress and are feeling reproach and disgrace. May be we have been scarred emotionally. If we think why there is so much failure in this area; the reason is because there is no recognition of God as a necessary part of the process. We think we can function quite adequately without Him but we can’t which is a fact.
As we examine the walls and the gates of our life we find much of it in ruins. No one may know about it. To others we appear to be a success. They think we are doing fine, but inwardly we know what we are. How do we handle that? That is a great question many of us face. But this is where the Bible comes in. Nehemiah is a worthy model for us to follow in recovering broken lives of people. We can see Nehemiah’s heartfelt concern and anguish over the damaged walls and ruined gates of Jerusalem. Nehemiah sacrificed the pleasures and privileges of his high position for the sake of God’s interests and a broken-down wall. He clearly had a deep sense of personal concern. He was willing to face the facts, to weep over them, and tell God about them. Before he did anything important he prayed about it. Whenever he faced a crisis he prayed about it. Whenever he had an important decision to make he prayed about it. And, because of his close relationship to and with God – as shown by his prayer life – he was willing to risk everything in order to do what he believed God wanted him to do. He was a real prayer warrior. Nehemiah’s strategy of rebuilding started with prayer and then he repented of all personal and corporate sins where by showing us that excusing our self for what is wrong in our life, will block our own recovery. In this process of reconstruction Nehemiah faced opposition by ridicule and discouragement. He responded to these insults with prayer and kept on working. He got on his knees and reached into heaven. He tapped into the power of God almighty. He had a close relationship with God and he had the desire to talk with God all the time and about everything. Hence no enemy could stand before him; no threats could stop his work. The wall that had laid in ruin for over 140 years was rebuilt in only 52 days!
Life always has its ups and downs. We become depressed and discouraged. We stumble and fall. We face opposition. We feel like we are all alone, without a friend. Sometimes we don’t understand ourselves and our own actions and words. So what do we do? Like Nehemiah, we should fall on our knees and reach into heaven. If we learn to pray through those situations we can and will get up again. Too often we let things interfere with our prayer life. We get too busy and think we don’t have time for prayer or we allow ourselves to be easily distracted or our thoughts wander and concentrate on everything except God. The problem is a lack of discipline. We don’t make prayer a priority. Prayer becomes the last thing we do rather than the first.
No matter what the intensity of the ruin be there is always a place to start. There is a place where you must begin. Do we need to apologize to someone? Do we need to go to somebody and straighten something out? Do we need to seek advice? Do we need to get some guidance? There is always a first step. That is where we must begin. And whatever we pray, pray that God will give us the grace, the strength and the determination to take that step. Then, the process of recovery begins. Building strong spiritual walls is not easy, but it can be done. This is the great encouragement and challenge to us from the book of Nehemiah. Let us not be content to live with broken-down walls. Let us be like Nehemiah’s wall-building team and strengthen our hands for this good work. “Let us arise and build.” Each man that took up the rebuilding of Jerusalem along with Nehemiah had a weapon in one hand worked with the other hand. This blending of the resources of the spiritual life with those of the material world is a marvelous picture of how believers ought to face threats. What we learn from this is that we too need to arm ourselves. God’s word is a weapon that we have. If we continually increase our knowledge of the word, it is nothing but sharpening our swords. We then are able to use God’s words against the devil, winning victories over him; yet building our wall. Nehemiah when he planned the rebuilding of the walls he completed the whole wall in one go and after the work is finished he appointed gate keepers, singers and the Levites. So also when our spiritual rebuilding finishes we also should have gate keepers –intercessors, Singers-worshippers; and Levites-servants of God to strengthen and protect the spiritual life.
The first secret for success in this whole process of breaking the unwanted walls and reconstructing the walls of salvation is “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. And the second one is “sit down weep, mourn, fast and pray before the God of heavens, admit declare and confess like Nehemiah. This will not only help us in rebuilding our personal life but also our society, our church and who ever is on the verge of collapsing.
May God use each one of us to break the walls of Jericho like JOSHUA and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem like Nehemiah!
– By Sis. Shobah Charles
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