“Arise and Build…Fight for your brethren”
The book of Nehemiah gives us one the best expositions of how hard work in the spirit of unity can accomplish the seemingly impossible. God is not looking for rogue, lone-rangers. To really establish anything with longevity and gravitas we need to come together.
After Nehemiah’s heartfelt prayer to God, the door was opened for him to travel back to Jerusalem and rebuild the broken down and desolate walls. We see towards the end of chapter 2 how the Jews come into agreement and decide to come together to rebuild the walls of their city. Nehemiah made it clear that this was a God project and challenged the people essentially saying “Our city is laid to waste. Come on, let us rise up and build the walls and remove the disgrace”.
After listening to Nehemiah’s vision and believing his words about how God’s favour was with this project, they made a decision that would change their lives. They said in unity “Let us rise up and build” and began to prepare for the work.
In this process, their enemies came to ridicule them but Nehemiah made a powerful declaration, “The God of Heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build…”
How they then proceed to accomplish the immense task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is inspiring and noteworthy. Each family began to rise up and build a particular section of the wall. The priests went first, building and consecrating the Sheep Gate. This is significant as this act represented putting the presence of God first and allowing Him to bring His sheep home. There is such a beauty in reading the description of families and groups working side by side. No competition, no envy; just focus and cohesion. When we are desperate enough for a change, we will come together and do what it takes to make the bigger picture come to pass.
Why Was It So Important To Rebuild The City Walls?
In the ancient world, if you didn’t have a city wall, you didn’t have a city. You had a village. From a city you could legislate and protect whereas a village was dependent on a nearby city for refuge.
This was never meant to be the identity of Jerusalem yet they couldn’t reclaim their true identity until the people came together in unity. They had to stand up to ridicule, overcome feeling embarrassed and look past the fact that it had never been done before. Yet with this one act of united boldness they changed the course of history.
Some Key Points About Unity From The Book of Nehemiah Common goal, common vision:
Unity is the state of being completely integrated and in perfect union. The message bible describes it as being one in heart and mind (John 17:21). Where there is a clear and common overall objective, each person works their “portion of the wall” so tto speak, with passion and dedication.
Have each other’s back:
During the construction of the wall, something remarkable happened in response to enemy threats and mockery, Nehemiah encouraged the people to “Fight for your brethren” and organised the people so that some took up arms and kept watch whilst the others worked at construction. This actually worked in their favour as they were likely able to get much needed rest in between shifts as the enemy threats were actually baseless and no attack came.
God commands the blessing:
Psalm 113 teaches us that where unity exists among the people of God, the anointing runs down and the blessing of God comes. We see in chapter 5 of the book of Nehemiah that after the rebuilding of the wall, blessings begin to flow to the people in the form of oppression being reversed and provision being released.
Unified focus brings acceleration:
Chapter 6:15 informs us that the wall was completed in 52 days and was obviously perceived by all to have been done by God. Firstly, there was unity around something God had specifically appointed to be completed and secondly, they worked faithfully and diligently, allowing themselves to be led and following instruction. This always attracts acceleration.
During this process of repopulating the Holy City, the prophet Ezra was enabled to proclaim openly the laws of Moses. This led to mass repentance and many reforms. The book of Haggai follows a similar pattern of building God’s house and vision then the Glory of God coming.
The reality is no man is an island. No matter how earth shatteringly impactful the idea, project, business, ministry or dominion God has given any one individual; it will always be successful in the context of relationships. It’s about understanding the work you do actually bolster’s in some way and uplifts the work of my brethren to make what they are doing worthwhile. Even if you trace back through revival history and all the great men and women of God we look up to today, each can tell you someone’s meeting they were in where they were either commissioned or impacted. The Kingdom of God is family and connection.
If the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem were not united, they would have surely been defeated or constantly defending unfinished parts of the walls. They may even have been stretched too thin in terms of human resource if certain families decided they didn’t want to help.