Building God’s Wall – Introduction

One of the hardest things about failure is picking up the pieces. Chaos doesn’t heal itself, and neither do damaged lives. If someone does not pick the pieces up, they lie where they have fallen. Rebuilding after failure requires courage, vision, and a large helping of holy enablement!

Perhaps the failure is not your own. Maybe what you are dealing with is failure in someone else’s life. Perhaps you are trying to help others cope with and recover from a devastating set of circumstances. Perhaps you are ministering to another who is trying to pick up the pieces and reestablish a godly lifestyle after years of futility and sin. You are searching for answers that will help another avoid the cycle of failure in their future.

The Word of God is still good news, and God has an answer for you. The good news is that judgment from God is quite often an invitation for repentance and restoration. Restoration is the goal; repentance is the process. Judgment is the goad the Lord uses to motivate us. The extent of this judgment depends first on the sovereignty of God and second on several details regarding man’s sin. Several things go into God’s calculated attempt to help us break the cycle of futility. For example, He must consider the extent sin has corrupted us, our community, and our testimony. In addition, God considers the degree of judgment necessary to bring a halt to the degradations caused by our wickedness. Even the amount of judgment necessary to give us an opportunity to have a fresh start is evaluated. These things and probably many others go into God’s effort to encourage man to turn from his sin.

On to the good news: The good news is that if we are still alive and able to see the error of our ways, there is yet opportunity to snatch victory from the very jaws of depression and defeat! There is still an opportunity to experience God’s marvelous restoration. But restoration requires change on man’s part. If you view the devastation before you with a desire for renewal and a willingness to change, you are ready to begin the journey.

Someone may say, “You are just being optimistic.” Perhaps that is true. Then again, perhaps optimism is just an expression of faith in the God of reconciliation. That’s right, the Lord God, Creator of the universe, is a God of reconciliation. There is not a wasteful tendency in His entire being, except when it comes to the way He lavishes His love on all, including those who have been the object of His calculated judgment. And so, while there is certainly a limit to God’s patience and forbearance, where that limit is and upon what it is based are known only to Him. If men knew where the edge of eternal perdition was, it is a fact that they would happily creep right up to the edge and homestead there!

But let us deal in certainties. This is certain: As long as there are breath and life, there is yet an opportunity for reconciliation to God. God’s goal in bringing judgment is to effect reconciliation and restoration. Reconciliation with God and restoration to our former situation after His judgment require rebuilding and reconsecration. The Lord Jesus instructed a church that had left her first love to “repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5). Certainly, after a season of judgment that has “cleared the deck,” so to speak, it would be the height of presumption to try to step right back into the same situation in God that we left months or even years ago. No! There must first be repentance—thorough and complete repentance. And then there must be a rebuilding process that repairs the breaches that were torn by our own sin as well as God’s judgment upon our sin. And finally, there must also be a time or reconsecration; a time when we recommit our hearts to the application of God’s principles and precepts in our everyday lives.

This is the pattern of reconciliation found in the book of Nehemiah. It is important to note that this reconciliation was not of the initial variety, that being as a sinner coming to God for the first time. The theme of Nehemiah is not that of a wayward sinner coming home to God. It is the story of a wayward saint returning to God’s good graces after experiencing the devastation of His judgment. The deeper truths of Nehemiah will not be applicable to those experiencing God’s redemption for the first time. That is not the story line of the book. Nehemiah is about a nation that had a rich history and a wealth of experience in God’s grace. This same nation failed God in a big way and on many occasions. As a result of the people’s sin, they felt God’s chastening countless times. But finally their rebellion grew to the point and was observed by so many others that God was reluctantly forced to respond with severe judgment. The book of Nehemiah is about the gallant efforts of this nation to rebuild after God’s judgment. It is also the story of God’s willingness and faithfulness to honor their efforts.

Can I say to you that much of the practical message of Nehemiah is lost today because of a longstanding theological debate? That’s right, a fundamental theological squabble has prevented many of the simple yet profound truths of Nehemiah from seeing the light of modern application. Simply put, there is a view of Scripture that makes a distinction between status and standing in God. Standing is defined as being saved or being yet in unbelief. Status is defined as where you are in the spiritual spectrum—hot, lukewarm, or frozen solid. As the stated view goes, one can be saved as to their standing and yet be all the way cold as to their status. This view holds that it is possible to be “saved” and still live in such a sinful way as to face God’s judgment as a result.

As a point of view, this belief may be fine for many people. But for those who have plumbed the depths of sin after their first profession of faith, it is often found wanting. For those trying to recover from the type of judgment that has leveled their entire world, an explanation of the differences between status and standing will scarcely be viewed as encouraging. They need to know how they can indeed be reconciled to God…yet again. They need to know why walls are important and how to rebuild them. They need to understand and practice the ten gates of worship. They need to know what to do inside the walls once they are rebuilt! Applying Nehemiah to the new believer alone is indeed missing the point of the book and depriving those who are struggling in their faith of a valuable source of encouragement. Nehemiah is not a builder’s guide; it is a rebuilder’s guide.

And so, for believers who have failed God in a big way and have seen their world crumble as a result—this book is for you. For those who have lived through the destruction of a failed marriage—this book is for you. For those who have lost the joy of your first love with Jesus and have suffered the loneliness and emptiness of life without His fellowship— this book is for you. For all those who have somehow survived the horror and devastation of God’s judgment—this book is for you. And for those who minister to any of these types of rebuilders—this book is also dedicated to you. May God bless and encourage you as you rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.” (Ps. 51:17–19).


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