Sunday, 17 January 2016

Re-building the wall - Part 1 - A story of success

It is fair to say that the task facing Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem (to re-build the wall of Jerusalem) was not easy and to complete this is just 52 days would have seemed humanly impossible, however nothing is impossible in God. Amen.

A measure of success really is a matter of perspective and our human nature will discern success differently from person to person.  One person may see success as having an affluent life style with endless worldly possessions and lots of money, another may see success as gaining a promotion at work or maybe somebody may see success as simply being able to find the next meal.   Each year £100's and £1000's are spent on books and other material to try to find the 'secret' of success, however the fact of the matter is that finding a way of being successful is not actually a secret at all, as the formulae for success is freely available in the Word of God. This is one of the great wonders of the bible in that it is far more than a book of words.  Within the bible we find the answers to every need or circumstance that we will encounter during our lifetime, we just need to find time to read the Word of God to allow our Father to communicate and direct us.

A particular book in the Old Testament that I am constantly drawn back to is the book of Nehemiah.  This is a relatively short book with only 13 chapters however there is so much packed into these chapters that I could find words for an endless amount of blog articles.  If you have not read this book for a while I would really encourage you to do so in order to see what God has got to say to you through His word. Each time I read the book I get a new blessing and a few months ago whilst reading the book God planted the following question in my mind; ‘How was it possible for the wall of Jerusalem to be re-built in just 52 days?’ Nehemiah 6:15 ‘So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days’. To understand this in context it is first worth appreciating the size and scale of the wall around Jerusalem before it was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in circa 600BC.  You can read an account of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 2 Chronicles 36:15-19.   ‘The length of the wall is 4,018 km (2,496.6 miles), their average height is 12 metres (39.37 feet) and the average thickness of walls is 2.5 metres (8.2 feet). The wall also contained 34 watchtowers and 8 gates’ (Wikipedia). Although the precise accuracy of these statistics can be questioned it is fair to say that the task facing Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem was not easy and to complete this is just 52 days would have seemed humanly impossible, however nothing is impossible in God. Amen.

As I started to look into God’s Word for an answer to this question God showed me five factors that made Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem successful in completing the wall within just 52 days; Prayer, Preparation, Passion, Perseverance and Perception (The five P’s). God also showed me that if I apply these five P’s in my life (and if you apply these in your life) then we cannot fail because our success will be directed by God Himself.

Prayer – If you read Nehemiah 1 in its entirety you will note that the whole chapter is a prayer.  In fact the prayer is very emotive and expresses the pain and anguish felt by Nehemiah; Nehemiah 1:3-5 ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven’. You will also note that Nehemiah ends the prayer by asking for success; Nehemiah 1:11 ‘Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. I was cupbearer to the king’

Prayer is so important because it provides us with guidance and protection. We should always remember to seek our Father's guidance at all times when we have decisions to make that will impact on our lives and the lives of others.  It is worth asking ourselves if we pray often enough or do we depend on our own understanding? Nehemiah prayed reverently before embarking on the task of re-building the wall of Jerusalem and also reverently throughout the task. Prayer will enable God to firstly let us know if He wants us to go to the place we are heading and if He does, by continually praying, He will give us direction and help us to navigate along the way.  It maybe through prayer that we will be told that God has a different direction for us or a different plan for our lives and this will save us wasting our time on something that was never His will for us in the first place.
The importance of prayer is demonstrated throughout the Bible.  Jesus Himself provides us with many examples of Prayer and in fact before He selected His 12 disciples He consulted with the Father.  Luke 6:12-13 ‘One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles’.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’.

Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’.

There are many other scriptures in the Bible that demonstrate the importance and the power of prayer.  If we live a prayerful life we are much more likely to have happy and fulfilled lives because we will know that our Father is watching over us and directing us.  Nehemiah recognised this also and must have realised that he could not have undertaken and completed the mammoth task of re-building the wall of Jerusalem without the guidance and protection of our Father through prayer. Matthew 6:33 tells us; ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. It is up to us to ‘seek first His kingdom’ and the way we can do this is through prayer.

The other factors that contributed to the successful re-building of the wall of Jerusalem (Preparation, Passion, Perseverance and Perception), will be discussed in Part 2 and Part 3 of this article. 

Author: Gary O’Neill 

May God bless and enrich your life

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  1. Wonderful challenging encouraging thanks God for his blessing Herbert

  2. Praise God, what a Blessing, thank you for being an obedient vessel and Blessing God's children. All the Glory to God ALWAYS. Love Tina