The most powerful stand we can take is the one we take together.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion, For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even forevermore.” Psalm 133
As we walk through the Life Journal readings, this weekend we are finishing up in Luke and getting into Nehemiah:
- 10/9: Nehemiah 1-2; Psalm 133; Luke 22
- 10/10: Nehemiah 3-4; Luke 23
- 10/11: Nehemiah 5-6; Psalm 146; Luke 24
In these chapters in Nehemiah we watch as the remnant of God’s people return to Jerusalem and rebuild God’s House along with their own houses too. Their blood, sweat and tears were slowly bringing Jerusalem back to life.
When we give our lives to the Crucified and Risen One, we too enter a holy order of people who are building something greater than self. We join together to build a Kingdom that’s not of this world; a Kingdom unseen, powerful, and which can (quite truthfully) change everything.
But the key to our building success is unity. It was that way in Nehemiah and it is that way now. Together we are the very Body of Christ on earth. When I was reading Psalm 133 I wondered, “If the key to building God’s Kingdom is unity, then what is the key to unity?
As we look for the answer to this question in both Luke 22-24 and Nehemiah 1-6, I think we find this:
To live in unity, God needs to be at the center.
In Nehemiah whenever the people started to look too much around at the opposition, or to think about how hard the work was, or to focus on their concerns, the enemy spies were able to sneak in through cracks and stir up trouble.
If we want to live in unity and not in trouble, we must keep our eyes fixed on our Head. We must remind ourselves what we live for.
When Nehemiah’s people were reminded they were not living for comfort but for break-through, they strapped on their swords and went back to work.
When Jesus gave His life for us on the cross He did it to bring down the wall of separation between us and God, and the walls between us and others. But He also erected a new wall, a wall so firm it cannot be brought down unless we let it, a wall between us and our enemy.
So we must remember where the walls really are. Jesus’ blood tears down the walls between us, and places them around us.
God’s people had to build a wall around themselves to keep the enemy out. Nehemiah purposefully led them to tear down any walls that stood between each other. It is important that we remember who our enemy is. We do not battle against flesh and blood. Instead we realize that all flesh and blood was worth the spilling of His Divine blood. Jesus’ death on the cross shows us where the walls should be built… around us, not between us.
When we fully inhale the grace and mercy of Jesus’ sacrifice, no longer do we need to scramble for self-promotion or self-preservation. Instead we pour out our lives to continue Jesus’ work on the earth: to save, to heal, to restore.
In Nehemiah, the Jerusalem nobles were found to be taking advantage of their poorer countrymen by exacting high interest rates to profit during the famine. Nehemiah was appalled, calling them to change this immediately.
“As far as possible we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet because they could find nothing to say.” (Nehemiah 5:8)
We are already bought with a price, and it is our job to partner with Christ to buy others back too. That is the work of Christ on the Cross (Luke 22-24).
The remnant who returned to Jerusalem were there to restore their land, restore their people, restore their worship. Whenever we forget our main purpose, we must remind ourselves what it is:
The right battles to fight in life are those that save what was lost, fix what is broken, or heal what is hurting.
We get tired. We get frustrated. We get confused. And sometimes we fight the wrong battles. The enemy looks for cracks to sneak in and whisper taunts of doubt and fear so we will turn on each other, instead of turning against him. And sometimes after battle weariness has set in, and our souls feel rattled and battered, we do turn on each other out of pain and frustration. And that’s when Nehemiah reminds us:
- Know who your enemy really is (and don’t be afraid of him!).
- Remember who you belong to (“the Lord, who is great and awesome.”).
- Fight for each other, not with each other. (“fight for your brothers…”)
“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
4. Ask God for strength. (“But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9).
Because He has given us a purpose in this life, and when we remember what that is, life makes more sense.
Life isn’t really about how much we gain, but how much we give. God bless you.