I have a friend who likes to hide her jewelry before she goes away. Several years ago she hid her watch before leaving for a vacation. She hid it well. So well, in fact, that when she returned, she herself couldn’t find it. She spent hours that morphed into days looking throughout her house. Finally, she surrendered, and gave up the search. Then, one day, years later, totally by accident, she found her watch, in that “safest” of places. Clearly, we know the importance of protecting our valuables. We lock our houses and our cars. We put our wills and legal documents in safety deposit boxes. But do we protect our most valuable possession? How well is the Temple of God, dwelling in our hearts, protected?
At the time Nehemiah lived, the Israelites had been released from Babylonian captivity, they had returned to Jerusalem, and they had finally rebuilt the temple that had been destroyed. Under the Old Covenant, the temple was the designated place where God met His people, and they went there to make atonement for their sins. While living in Persia, Nehemiah learned that the wall around the temple was in disrepair. Upon hearing this, Nehemiah knew he had to return to Jerusalem to rebuild it in order to protect the dwelling place of God from their enemies. They needed a wall that could not be breached, as it had been once before. Nehemiah was the man for the job! In 52 days he rallied the people to complete the task of rebuilding. He was prayerful, organized, and persistent in the work because he knew the value of the building that was to reside within that wall.
“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.’” Nehemiah 2:17
Ultimately, many years later, despite Nehemiah’s best efforts, the wall was breached and the temple was once more destroyed. But at the time it was destroyed, God had provided a more permanent dwelling place among His people. The Messiah had come. Under the New Covenant, we have a better, more permanent dwelling place of God—our bodies.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1Corinthians 3:16.
As followers of Christ, the Messiah, we have God’s Spirit dwelling within our hearts. Just as Nehemiah knew that the Temple had to be protected from the enemies of God’s people, we know that there is an enemy that wants to harm our Temple. He wants to separate us from God. He wants to tempt us and condemn us. How can we protect our Temple from Satan’s attack? We can learn from Nehemiah. We can rebuild the wall the same way he did. Nehemiah started this arduous task with an inspection to determine where it was broken and what gates needed bolting. We can’t rebuild unless we know where the cracks and breaks have emerged. How is our prayer life? Are we faithfully in God’s Word so that we fortify our knowledge of His will for our lives? Are we calling on His Spirit to guide and protect us? What are we worshipping other than God? Once we identify the broken areas, we can rebuild.
Nehemiah grieved that the wall was in disrepair. He knew God’s presence was the most important thing for himself and the people of God. He was willing to give up everything to complete the task of protecting the Temple of God. Am I?