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September 29, 2023

The Walls Are Down

If we want to take away the reproach of the enemy, we need to come together in unity of purpose.

“Okay, piggies, today you are going to learn to work together!”

“Piggies” was our drill instructor’s term of endearment for his recruits. It felt so good to be appreciated.

We were about four weeks into our 13 weeks of Recruit Training (Boot Camp), and we knew most of us would be in Vietnam the next year, so we paid attention. We had double-timed (ran) to the obstacle course, where all three squads were led to a bunch of telephone poles laying on the ground along the edge of the course. We lined up on a phone pole, half on one side and half on the other. What he said next took us by surprise. We were told to pick up our pole, put it on our shoulders, and carry it to the end of the field!

Our first thought was he couldn’t be serious, but by this time we knew what we were told to do was (theoretically) possible but probably not easy. Picking it up was easier than we thought, but once we got it on our shoulders it became clear we had a problem.

Three of the squad members were too short to have the pole rest on their shoulders. As the squad leader, I had half of the men hold it on their shoulders while we all assumed our squad marching order. The taller guys were in the front, and the shorter guys were in the back — just the way we lined up when we marched.

While the other two squads fumbled around, we slowly carried our pole to the end of the field. If someone wasn’t doing his part to carry his weight, everyone could tell.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people work together. Nehemiah learned that lesson.

Nehemiah received a report from Hanani his brother that Jerusalem was in ruins. “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3, ESV). Nehemiah got bummed, prayed, and ultimately asked the king for his American Express card to get the job done (that’s a Ron Helle paraphrase). He traveled to Jerusalem, did an all-night recon (reconnaissance), and then gave a pep talk to the Jewish leaders.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build." So, they strengthened their hands for the good work. (Nehemiah 2:17-18)

Despite opposition, "the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:17-18).

The key ingredient of unity resulted in the goal being accomplished “with the help of our God”!

We are all familiar with the Great Commission: go into all the world and make disciples. We are less familiar with Jesus’s prayer for His disciples.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)

Nehemiah was concerned with how the condition of the walls reflected poorly on the God of Israel, and when he conveyed that to the people, they rose up in a unity of purpose to build the wall and everyone knew God was in it.

The Church in America is in disrepair, my friends. The walls are down and the enemy stands without mocking our efforts. If we want to take away the reproach of the enemy, we need to come together in unity of purpose.

Now we are the temple, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and like Nehemiah’s day we work with a brick (new believer) in one hand and a sword in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Let’s rise and build the church so God may be glorified!

What say ye, Man of Valor?
Semper Fidelis!

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