We speak of the desperate need of revival in our Churches today, and this need is so tangible. But what we often overlook is that before we can be revived, certain things must be restored. Jeremiah said "Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where is the good way, and walk therein. And ye shall find rest for your souls." After reading through the first nine chapters of the book of Nehemiah today, i found that God revived the people, but only after a restoration of certain things was made. He impressed this upon my heart, and i had to share it.
[i]"The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven." [/i]Nehemiah 1:1-4
Things in Jerusalem were a mess. The people of God were down-trodden and afflicted, and the foundations of the city were broken down. When Nehemiah learned of this, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. This is where it all begins. Everybody wants to talk about the need for revival, but who is willing to weep for the afflicted brothers and sisters? Who is willing to mourn the reproach that has come upon the church of God? Who is willing to fast and pray that God would restore the former glory of His Church? Who is willing to stand up and pray for a restoration of Apostolic Christianity?
Read the rest of chapter one. Nehemiah's prayer isn't one of selfishness. It isn't a plea for prosperity. It is a prayer of REPENTANCE. He realized that the reason for this affliction and reproach was due to the fact that God's people had forsaken Him, and sinned against Him. He confessed his own sins, and the sins of his people, and he claimed God's promise that He would restore them if they return to Him. See his faithfulness and trust in God in chapter two.
[i]"And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven."[/i] Ch. 2:1-4
His sadness wasn't an inward one. His burden wasn't hidden. The king could tell that something troubled this servant of God. Yes, Nehemiah's burden was true and heartfelt. He had no rest, he couldn't laugh, the foundations of his city were in ruins. How can we then, as God's people, come to Church and crack jokes, talk about sports, talk about ridiculous nonsense that has nothing to do with God when the foundations of our religion are laid waste? We're all guilty of this. We're too busy being happy, and too busy waiting to get something from God, that we won't get serious enough to weep. God forgive us.
But again, Nehemiah knew the secret to all success, instead of going at it unwisely and askig the king for what he needed, he prayed. And it almost seems as though he's saying it is the only natural thing to do. He said "[b]So[/b] i prayed". "[b]So[/b] i prayed". It is the only answer for our down-trodden generation. Prayer to the God of heaven.
The king granted his request, and allowed him to return to Jerusalem. Not only did he allow him to return, he also gave him the supplies he needed to rebuild the city.
Nehemiah then spent his time touring the ruins, and inspecting the damage. Have we taken time to see what has happened to us? Have we really inspected the damage wrought in the Church? Have we considered what has happened since we've let the world in?
After inspecting the damage, the man of God had a meeting with the other leaders in the city.
[i]"And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." [/i]vss. 16-18
He said "Look, if anything is going to happen, we've got to get togeter and start working for restoration." The same thing must be said to all of us, if we really want revival, if we're truly willing to work for restoration, we must band together in prayer, and waiting upon God. We must agree that He will do that which is so needed. He said if we'll just stand in the ways and see, and [b]ask[/b] for the old paths, we'd find rest.
[i]"But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." [/i]vss. 19,20
The world will fight us, and even some of our own, but depsite their jeers we can rest in the assurance that the God of heaven will prosper us.
In chapter 3 we read of all who did the work in rebuilding the walls of the city. It explains what was done, and who it was that did it. I have always skimmed over this chapter, thinking that it wasn't so important to read because, after all, it's mostly just a bunch of names that are hard to pronounce. But i read the chapter today, and i'm glad that i did. Read this chapter and sense how everyone worked together in rebuildig the wall. Everyone had a specific part, and while some may not have been as glorious as others (like those assigned the task of rebuilding the dung gate), everyone worked. Why? Because they wanted the former glory restored. They were tired of the reproach, they were fed up with the ruins.
We all have a part in this, big or small. And every part is important. We can't let one breach in the wall remain, and if i were to decide that my task was too dirty, who would stand up to take my place? We can't be weary, we will reap what we've sown. If we sow in righteousness, we will reap mercy. We musn't give up this awesome task of working for God to restore the old paths of true Christianity. We cannot forsake preaching the Christ if the true Gospel. We can't forsake His holy Word. When the going gets tough, and when the world spits in our face, the God of heaven will prosper us.
[i]"But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?" [/i]Ch. 4:1, 2
Can you hear the taunts of the world? Day in and day out our brothers and sisters are dying for Christ in some foreign land. Every day someone suffers persecution for the cause of Christ. The enemy is gaining ground in the spiritual realm everyday. He creeps into some Church here, or he corrupts some doctrine there, or he tempts this one there. Can we revive the heaps of rubbish that are burned? Can we bring ourselves back to Apostolic Christianity? When Nehemiah heard of their taunts, he prayed. He just prayed. And see the result?
[i]"So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work." [/i]vs. 6
They built the wall. They restored what had been broken down for so long. The glory had come back, and Jerusalem was safe from attack again. Why? "The people had a mind to work." Do you have that mind? May this same mind be in us. May we work for the glory of God, to deny ourselves and get back to Bible Christianity. May we stop watering down the Gospel, and preach the truth that God is a holy God that has to send sinners to hell. May we never again stop preaching that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that saves sinners from hell.
[i]"But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." [/i]vss. 7-9
Be mindful, if we seek God's face for restoration, if we're truly willing to do this for revival, the enemy will come at us full force. He'll seek to destroy the work and set us back farther than where we were. But if we make our prayer unto our God, and continue seeking His face, continue building for His glory, He will prosper us. It says that the builders had to work with a tool in one hand, and a weapon in the other. We must do the same, sanctifying all things by the Word of God and prayer. Remember the Bible says "Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
To sum it all up, yes, we need revival. But i don't think revival will ever come until we are willing to rebuild some of the broken down walls. How many walls have come down and allowed the world to creep in? What kind of music are we worshipping with in our Churches? What kind of entertainment? So many broken down walls, so many ruins. Let's pray for restoration, true restoration to Biblical Christianity.