Nehemiah 3: 11 – 18
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. 13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal] Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and re-entered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
There has been much talk recently of coming out of Lockdown, and there is quite rightly a lot of anticipation of a relaxing of the rules that bind us at the moment. All authorities though, emphasise the need for a gradual return to “normality”. Admittedly those calls have been ignored by some but on the whole people realise restitution will not be achieved overnight.
At the end of the Babylonian Exile when Cryus granted his decree allowing the Israelites to return, many families returned with Ezra and they set to re-establishing their communities and very quickly restored the Altar in the ruins Temple but not the Temple itself. After many years Nehemiah, by then a high ranking official in Cryus’ court, asked for permission to return and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and thereafter the Temple itself.
Nehemiah was under no illusions as to the size of the task in hand which is why he surveyed the existing state of the city by night so as not to discourage the people.
His ploy worked and the people enthusiastically embraced the prospect of rebuilding. Had they known the immensity of the task would they have agreed so readily?
The work though was essential, and eventually after many set backs was achieved.
No doubt over the next months and possibly years we too will suffer setbacks, the task of rebuilding the economy and social structures may well prove far more difficult than we hope. But just as Nehemiah knew God was with him, so too do we.
There is good work to be done, let’s get it started.
Lord God our loving Father, we have felt you with us in the dark times, and now as we start to see light we know that you are the source of that light. Guide us towards it and as we rebuild social and economic structures, may we do so pursuing justice and mercy for all rather than comfort for few.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,