REBUILDING THE WALL
REBUILDING THE WALL Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation speak of a holy city, a city surrounded by a wall that separates the Wife of the Lamb from the nations of the saved. In most of modern Christianity this wall has fallen down, its gates "burned with fire." Today, through the Holy Spirit, God is rebuilding this wall in the heart and mind of those whose whole life is given over to Christ. As soon as it has been completed the wall will allow the members of the New Jerusalem to serve as guardians of the holiness of the city and as gates of access to the Throne of God.
Table of Contents
The Traditional Understanding
The goal of salvation is to make our eternal residence in Heaven.
We attain to the goal by professing faith in Christ.
Divine grace is a legal state of amnesty, a continuing, unconditional pardon of the sins of the believer. Our behavior on the earth, while important, is not critical to our salvation.
The principal task of the Christian is to not forget he has been saved by grace and to bring as many other people as possible into this state of eligibility for Heaven.
The Scriptural Understanding
The program of redemption begins when we are in union with Satan and reveal Satan’s image in our thoughts, our words, and our actions. The program of redemption has been completed when we are in restful union with the Father through Christ and are revealing in our thoughts, words, and actions the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit has given us four great types of redemption: the seven days of creation; the feasts of the Lord; the pilgrimage of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Each of the four types may be broken into seven stages of salvation. They help us understand our progress from Satan to God.
One goal of salvation is the attainment to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:1). Attaining to the resurrection of the saints, which Paul held out as our objective, includes death to the world, to Satan, to the lusts of our flesh—to our entire old nature; and coming to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We are seeking total union with God through Christ.
Our salvation has to do with our relationship with Christ rather than with moving from earth to Heaven. We hope for the resurrection so we can resume our life on the earth.
We attain to the goal of inner resurrection (which will result in actual resurrection when the Lord appears) by receiving the Person of Christ. Receiving the Person of Christ and abiding in Him are a much more intimate and demanding experience than merely acknowledging that Christ is our Lord and Savior. It is an actual coming to Christ.
Divine grace is the Lord Jesus Himself. When we truly come to Him by faith He receives us. He assumes the responsibility for us and begins to cleanse us from sin and rebellion.
Although we may be very wicked when the Spirit leads us to Christ, the Lord forgives our sins. Then He begins the work of separating us completely from Satan, conforming us to His own death and resurrection and bringing us into perfect, complete union with Himself.
The work of moving us from Satan to God begins the moment we receive Christ, continues throughout our lifetime on the earth, and will be completed when the Lord returns from Heaven.
The principal tasks of the Christian are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He performs the work of moving him from Satan to Christ, to assist in the perfecting of the other members of the Body of Christ, as the Spirit guides and enables, and to bear witness of Christ to all mankind—again, as the Spirit guides and enables.
There are errors in the traditional understanding of salvation—errors that have resulted in an immature, confused, divided Christian Church. A weak, ineffective testimony is being given to the world.
The concept of Divine grace as a continuing, unconditional pardon does not sufficiently take into account the Scriptures that teach if we do not bear fruit we will be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ (John 15:2; Hebrews 6:8); the numerous passages that make it clear God judges the sins of the believers (Galatians 5:21; I Peter 4:17); or the necessity for walking carefully in God’s will as a condition of receiving the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ (Romans 8:4; I John 1:7).
The traditional concept does not place nearly enough emphasis on the change of personality to be brought about by the new covenant (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18; 5:17,18).
The traditional concept assumes that our change into righteous behavior will take place in Heaven after we die. There is no scriptural support for this.
The limiting of grace to a legal state of amnesty makes the new covenant a covenant primarily of forgiveness rather than a covenant of transformation into righteous behavior. While the new covenant includes forgiveness of sins, as does the old covenant, the new covenant is superior in that it is an act of Divine transformation of our personality (Hebrews 8:10).
The concept of grace as an amnesty (a continuing, unconditional pardon of the believer) has created an invisible church. Since the world cannot see a state of amnesty, the Church cannot serve as the light of the world. The good works are absent (Matthew 5:16).
The traditional understanding relegates true righteousness, fellowship with Jesus, and eternal life to another time (after we die) and another place (Heaven—the spirit realm). The futuristic emphasis invites the believer to absorb himself in the life of the world instead of attending with all diligence to the daily work of transformation taking place now.
The traditional understanding has left the believers vulnerable to the nineteenth century "revelation" of the translation (rapture) to Heaven of the immature, divided, professors of belief in Christ, leaving the Kingdom of God to those who are Jewish by race.
The doctrine that the saved Jews inherit the earth while the saved Gentiles inherit the spirit realm is a travesty of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God preached by Christ and the Apostles of the Lamb. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, teach clearly that resurrection unto eternal life and an inheritance in the city of Jerusalem are the goals of all who are part of Christ whether Jew or Gentile by race.
We are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: (Revelation 21:10-12)
When God gave to Christ the vision of the new world to show to His servants, God emphasized the wall that will surround the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the Kingdom of God, the perfected and glorified Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the Tabernacle of God—the Kingdom being formed in Heaven now and that will be installed on the new earth after the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded.
Why did God emphasize the wall?
The wall serves to keep away from the Presence of God what is unclean, and also to maintain the separation between the elect and the world—between the Church and the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
People and angels always will be capable of disobeying God.
Speaking of the period after the return of the Lord Jesus:
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)
The reason there will be no sin in the ages to come is not that people are unable to sin but because the saints—those in whom a wall against sin has been created— will be ruling the world. The new Jerusalem is their walled fortress from which they reign. There is a powerful angel guarding each gate. Nothing that is unclean, that is in rebellion against God, will be allowed to pass into the holy city.
If there had been such a wall surrounding the garden of Eden, or if Christ had been formed in the personalities of Adam and Eve, the rebellion against God’s will could not have taken place. This is why the wall is emphasized along with its twelve ornamented foundations. The Lord God is making certain that never again will His commandments be disobeyed.
The Throne of God and of the Lamb is located in the city. The Godhead is not hidden from view by any kind of temple. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of the new Jerusalem. This in effect makes the entire city the Tabernacle of God. If there were no wall of separation the entire new earth would be the tabernacle of God.
It is important every Christian understand clearly that no individual will be allowed to dwell in the holy city on the basis of imputed (ascribed) righteousness, that is, he is continuing to sin but God holds him guiltless because of the substitutionary death of Christ. The atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ grants us forgiveness of our sins but it does not serve as a ticket that allows us past the angel standing at the gate of the city.
No person ever will be permitted to enter the city who does not keep the commandments of God.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
No statement of the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation implies that sinners can enter the new Jerusalem on the basis of a statement of belief in Christ. It is the "holy" city because every one of its inhabitants is holy in personality and behavior.
The wall is the separation between what is utterly holy and what is not utterly holy. It is the division between the Church and the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees He instituted the Church. The Church consists of God’s elect—those persons whom God, by means of His own foreknowledge and will, has separated from the remainder of the peoples of the earth.
The separation by no means signifies that the remainder of the peoples of the earth are lost. The setting aside of the nation of Israel did not mean the other nations were doomed. Rather, the institution of an elect among mankind is for the purpose of providing kings and priests: human beings who can rule mankind under God and also serve as a bridge between God and his creatures (I Peter 2:9).
The calling out of Abraham and his Seed does not mean Abraham and his Seed are saved and the remainder of mankind are lost; rather it is true that the remainder of mankind will be blessed through Abraham’s Seed (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).
The new Jerusalem is the Seed, the perfected Church, the Body of Christ. The Seed constitutes the elect who will rule over the nations of the saved forever and through whom those nations will receive the blessing of God (Revelation 21:24).
The city itself (which is an actual city, apparently) reveals in its construction the strength and beauty that have been wrought in the saints through means of their tribulations and testings in the present life.
Jesus has chosen the saints (the holy ones) out of the world. They are not of the world. They have been taken from the world so they can be formed into the Church, into the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem.
When the elect have been made one in Christ in God the nations of the world will believe that God indeed has sent Christ and has loved the Church, the elect, as He loves Christ.
The wall of separation between the Church and the nations of the earth shall endure forever.
Today God is constructing the foundations of the wall and the wall itself. So important are the twelve foundations of the wall that the precious stones with which they are adorned are set forth by name (Revelation 21:19,20).
The defense of a city is as strong as its wall. The wall is as strong as its foundations. Particular attention is called to the foundations of the wall that surrounds the holy city.
The building of the wall has a spiritual application. The Lord has chosen the darkest (spiritually) hour of earth’s history in which to construct the great wall, and its gates, of the Kingdom of God.
People whose personalities are symbolized by the wall must have a strength of righteousness and holiness created within them that is able to withstand every conceivable assault of the temptation to disobey God.
The names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are in the foundations of the wall. The foundation of the Church of Christ has been laid and the governing Scriptures written. Now it is time for the rebuilding of the wall and its gates on the foundations laid by the Apostles. Many who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God.
The testing of those who are being made the defense of the holy city indeed is rigorous. They are pulled and pushed in many directions. They suffer perplexity, humiliation, frustration, pain, and every other kind of distress. God must be assured that their love for Christ and their obedience to Himself are beyond question.
As God is bringing to Christ’s Body the understanding of the difference between basic salvation and the rewards assigned to the overcomers, some, hoping to gain the best of this present world and still enjoy the bliss of Paradise, have decided to be content with the initial phase of salvation. Running the race of victory is requiring more of them than they wish to give. They have decided to enjoy the present world and forget about any rewards in the next.
But we do not have that choice. We shall be judged precisely in terms of what has been entrusted to us. If God has called us to be a part of the wall, and has given us the Virtue, wisdom, and power we need to become part of the wall, He will not allow us to choose a lesser role and place in His Kingdom.
We cannot decide to "just be saved." We cannot choose to have our own way in this present world and then just be saved (without reward) unless we are prepared to suffer fiery judgment—and possibly the loss of our very salvation.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:15)
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
God will not be mocked. With the devious He shall show Himself devious (Psalms 18:26). God cannot be manipulated by His own Word.
The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Much shall be required of him to whom much has been given. Severe punishment awaits the individual who has wasted what has been entrusted to him. He shall be "beaten with many stripes."
In our day the wall and the gates of the Kingdom of God are being rebuilt, so to speak. The renunciation of the world required on the part of those who are participating in the work of rebuilding, the denial of self, the cleansing from all sin, the dedication to Christ, the presenting of one’s body as a living sacrifice, are resulting in the removal of those who had joined themselves to the saints but who now are not willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.
In order to accomplish the rebuilding of the wall, God has issued the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The Scriptures are unfolding. The call to battle is stimulating, exciting. Many have joined the ranks because of the glory the Spirit is revealing. It has been as honey in their mouth. Now the bitterness is entering their soul, and they have been brought down into the valley of decision as a result.
Some are counting the cost, being unsure of the extent to which they are willing to deny themselves, to forsake their own lives. Others are fiercely determined to forge ahead with God. They are committing to Christ their desires and hopes as they reach forward to attainment to the first resurrection from the dead.
The pressures will mount in the days ahead, and the gulf between those who love Christ totally and those who love Christ partially will grow ever wider. The division between the two kinds of believers is necessary in order to make straight the way of the Lord. Only those who have been willing to pass through the fires of judgment and cleansing will be able to rise to meet the Lord when He comes.
The third chapter of the Book of Nehemiah speaks of the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem. The walls had been broken and the gates burned with fire as a result of the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. God had permitted the city to be destroyed because the Israelites had rebelled against Him, not heeding the words of Jeremiah.
So it is today. The "walls" of the Church of Christ have been broken and the "gates" burned with fire. This is a symbolic way of portraying that the churches have allowed the world and its sin to enter. The believers forget, it appears, that Samson lost his strength when his hair was cut, when his separation as a Nazarite had been stolen from him by Delilah. Samson never did exhibit godly behavior, but he did not lose his strength until his separation to God had been removed.
Much Christian work is being accomplished in our day and believers are filling the churches being built all over the world. But Satan enters the new churches and destroys the work of God at his pleasure.
Witness the "prosperity" error, the overemphasis on "grace," the stress on the love of God while the wrath of God is seldom mentioned, "positive" preaching, the "reconstruction" movement, the pre-tribulation rapture, "replacement" theology.
Theological errors abound. It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.
The eternal purpose of God is not limited to saving people from destruction during the Day of Wrath. The eternal purpose of God would not be accomplished if everyone on the earth were forgiven his sins and taken to Heaven. There would be sin and rebellion in Heaven if that took place.
The eternal purpose of God is the bringing forth of righteousness and praise in human beings, especially in the earth. Until the will of God is being performed in the earth the Kingdom of God has not come.
The individual receives benefit when he comes to Christ and receives the forgiveness of his sin. God also is benefited, in that a son has returned to his Father’s house.
But God’s purpose is not accomplished until the son begins to perform God’s will. What if the prodigal returns home and continues to squander the family assets in riotous living? Has his father’s will been accomplished?
We have multitudes of people in the churches of today who still are living in the pigpen of the world. Because there is no wall of separation, no strength to resist the world and its sin and rebellion, Satan enters at his pleasure and destroys the work of God. The riotous living, the swine, and the husks are brought into the Father’s house.
It is time to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
Let us mention six areas in which the wall between the Church and the world must be rebuilt:
Dependence on the world for help.
Dependence on money.
Alliance with unbelievers.
Change into the world’s image.
Fellowship with sinning believers.
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: (Genesis 14:22,23)
Abram was speaking to a king. His remarks were insulting!—defiant! Abram was stating that he desired no help whatever from Bera, the king of that wicked city—Sodom.
Melchizedek, a more powerful king, an eternal priest of God, had just blessed Abraham in the name of the "most high God." The God whom Abram served is the "possessor of heaven and earth." Abram, as was fitting, gave tithes to the greater king, the king of righteousness, at the same time displaying his total disdain and independence of the lesser king, the defeated king, the king of wickedness.
The king of the world is the lesser king, the defeated king, the king of wickedness. Our King is the greater, the victorious. We serve Him. We are to remain independent of the world’s help and that of the king of wickedness.
Satan’s master strategy for today, particularly in the wealthier nations, is to give the Christians the impression that the world is their friend. Antichrist will subsidize the Laodicean church until it boasts of its riches.
It is time to build the wall of separation between the world and the Church of Christ.
We do not need the world’s assistance. The people of the world have no part in building the eternal Tabernacle of God, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. (Ezra 4:1,2)
This must have been a severe temptation for the poor remnant of Jews who had left their homes and farms in Babylon and had come to the ruins of Jerusalem in order to restore the Temple of Solomon. Their enemies now were ready to assist them in the work of restoration.
The day shall come when the nations of the saved bring their wealth to God’s elect. But this will take place after the Lord returns to sit on the Throne of David.
Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces [wealth] of the Gentiles [nations], and that their kings may be brought. (Isaiah 60:11)
If the worldly community sought to help us today we would believe God’s revival had come. Just think—the unsaved now want to help us with the Lord’s work! How marvelous!
Sometimes it is of the Lord that the unsaved assist us in one manner or another. But we must make certain in prayer that it is really the Lord and not a trick of the enemy to destroy our separation from the world.
When we lose our separation from the world we lose our spiritual strength.
No doubt this is what will take place in the last days. How many churches would see anything wrong with receiving assistance from the government? There is a possibility that some congregations will fall helplessly into the enemy’s power when the world seeks to join us.
But the elders of the Jews had a wall of separation in their hearts. Their response was the same as that of Abram. It is the response given by every true prophet of the Lord.
But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. (Ezra 4:3)
God had moved on the uncircumcised Cyrus to build His Temple. If we will obey the Lord, doing exactly what He tells us to do, God will move on the secular governments and open the doors that must be opened in order for God’s Kingdom to be advanced.
We always are to be courteous, and to obey the laws of the land as long as they do not conflict with the Word of God.
We notice also that Nehemiah requested assistance from King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:8).
There are instances when the Lord directs us to request help from people who are not Christians, or sends us assistance from a non-Christian.
But this is not the same as seeking the help of the world in the work of the Kingdom of God. In the case of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, God Himself was directing in the assistance that was given. This is different from leaning on the arm of flesh or attempting to gain favor with the unsaved in order to "do the Lord’s work."
Ezra and Nehemiah were working with the Lord, performing His will. When we lean on the world for support we are not working with the Lord, we are not performing His will.
God is building His own Kingdom. Christ is building His own Church. Since God owns the earth and all the nations on the earth, He can use whatever or whomever He chooses to perform His will on the earth. We do not have to turn away from God and seek the help of man.
Our God is the Possessor of Heaven and earth. Satan owns neither Heaven nor the earth. The wicked do not own the earth. It is God’s will that His people be the head and not the tail.
The moment we turn to the world and its ways for help in constructing the Kingdom of God, the Lord departs from us. God will not help us when we are attempting to build His Kingdom in our own strength and wisdom, looking to the world for friendship and support.
We have the Lord. He is all we need.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5)
The Divine curse rests on the individual who finds his security in the friendship and support of people instead of in the Lord.
One way in which the churches depend on the world for help is by trusting in money instead of in the Spirit of God.
There are many voices crying in the land today, all professing to be the voice of God. "Send us money for we are building the Kingdom of God. We are doing this in the name of the Lord. We are doing that in the name of the Lord. Don’t let this ministry fail. Send us money so this work of faith may move ahead. We are living by faith so send us your money."
Everyone, saved and unsaved alike, understands that if one possesses enough money he can build buildings, publish books, advertise, and do other things that will cause people to act in one way or another. It appears that the majority of the leaders of the churches are firmly convinced that money is the power by which the Lord builds the Kingdom of God.
The statement was made, in a recent magazine article, a magazine published by an organization that is assisting in the building of native churches in many countries, to the effect that one can perform the Lord’s work only to the extent one possesses money. Such a concept cannot be found in the Scriptures.
To trust in money is to trust in the arm of flesh, to trust in man. The curse of the Lord abides on the man or woman who trusts in money.
Today’s "prophets" are telling us the Christian people soon will be so wealthy the unsaved will know God is with them because of their wealth. In that hour they will say, "The Holy Spirit have we none, but the silver and gold we have we will lend thee on interest."
In the day we cannot perform the will of God unless someone gives us money, in that day God has become as helpless as a man. Men depend on money to accomplish their will. The kingdom of Antichrist will operate by the power of money. Does the Possessor of Heaven and earth depend on money to accomplish His will?
The constant plea of Christian workers for money is an abomination.
It is not our desire to slander those who are doing the Lord’s work. Rather it is our intention to rebuild the wall of separation between the world and its ways, and the Kingdom of God.
If we would participate in the work of restoration we must drive out from our thinking and actions the thought that we need the help of man or of money in order to serve God. God may use people, saved or unsaved, to assist us at various times and in various ways. Nevertheless, God is the Possessor of Heaven and earth. He gladly and promptly will pay for every necessity when that necessity is incurred by a person who is doing exactly what God has told him to do.
But God will not support the individual who, perceiving a need, goes forth to meet the need in the name of the Lord without first finding out God’s mind in the situation.
The reason Christian workers plead for money is that they are looking to man instead of God for help in building what they think is the Kingdom of God.
It is relatively easy to persuade the believers to do something. It is not as easy to get them to wait on the Lord for direction. It is easy to work but hard to pray, although one may think the contrary is true.
How much Christian work proceeds from the natural, soulish tendency of man to compete successfully? Why do organizations that are preaching the Gospel, or feeding the hungry, fight in court against one another over money?
The reason churches seek money and utilize worldly means to construct buildings is that they are attempting to work for the Lord instead of with the Lord.
It is our point of view that God soon will send such tribulation on the earth that every Christian work that is not of Him will be forced either to cease or else to make an alliance with the world. The time of confusion is coming to an end. The anointed remnant will turn away from trust in money and learn to rely only on the Lord for all things.
It is time to rebuild the wall of separation in the area of dependence on the world and money. We are to look steadfastly toward the Lord Jesus. The work is of Him and He will help us.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
Today’s Christian teachers are overemphasizing the role of "grace" (interpreted only as forgiveness ) in the Christian redemption. There is moral filthiness among the leaders and the people. Fornication, adultery, stealing, hatred, covetousness, abound in the Christian churches. Few seem to care. Few appear to understand that God will not work where there is spiritual uncleanness.
The Christian salvation saves us in our sins at first and then saves us from our sins. Because of erroneous teaching the Christians of today are under the impression that as long as we are in the world we are obliged to sin. It is believed that soon the Lord will translate all the morally corrupt believers to Paradise where they will sit in their mansions of gold.
The truth is, God will not accept any sin, either on the earth or in Heaven. Sin began in Heaven. Christ came to destroy the works of Satan, to put an end to sin.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is performed in Heaven. One of the principal tasks of the Christian life is the expelling of sin from our personalities. The Holy Spirit is helping us each day to gain the upper hand over all the uncleannesses in our lives and to put them to death, to construct a wall between us and the spirit and works of Satan. This is what the Spirit of God always leads the sons of God to do (Romans 8:13,14).
There is no sin in the city of God, in the Kingdom of God. As Paul told us on several occasions, it is impossible to inherit the Kingdom of God if we are covetous, if we wallow in uncleanness, if we lie, if we practice the occult, if we do not have control over our appetites. This is the consistent teaching of the New Testament (Galatians 5:19-21).
Until the wall of separation has been erected between all uncleanness and the saints, God will not abide in the camp. We always will lose our battles. The awe of God’s Presence will not be felt in our assemblies. God is a God of righteousness. The scepter of Christ’s Kingdom is the scepter of righteousness. He who is walking in uncleanness neither sees Christ nor knows Christ.
Of what use will all our religious effort be if we hear in the Day of Christ, "Depart from me, you worker of iniquity"?
Holiness is more important in the work of the Kingdom than one would infer from the present state of the Christian churches.
We may be longing for a extraordinary move of God among the nations. God is longing for a powerful move of holiness among the believers in Christ and will not accept our prayers until we put away our unrighteous behavior from us.
Each of us must learn to walk continually in an attitude of repentance and confession of our sins. We must cry out to God to search our hearts and cleanse us from all iniquity, from secret sins. Revival is impossible apart from repentance and confession of sins on the part of the Lord’s people.
Confession of sin, repentance, and restitution always will be present when the work of rebuilding and restoration takes place:
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. (Ezra 10:10,11)
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (II Corinthians 6:14)
Christian people often find it necessary to work for and among unbelievers. Such contact with the world is unavoidable in the present hour and it is acceptable to God.
But we are to keep in mind always that the saints are not of the world. We have been called out of the world in order to reveal in our personalities the Person and ways of the God of Heaven. We are not to enter agreements with unbelievers or to have close fellowship with them any more than is necessary.
Christians are not to marry unbelievers or even weak believers unless the Lord Jesus clearly directs otherwise (which is not likely!). The disciple is to marry only another disciple. To do otherwise is to bring about years of trouble and confusion.
We do not save, deliver, or help the people of the world by becoming part of them. We can help the people of the world only to the extent we keep ourselves separate and holy to the Lord. Christ is our Example in this.
The more separate and holy the Church is, the more brightly and clearly the light of God shines in the world.
No believer can save another person by acting like him, loving him, marrying him, agreeing with him, being friends with him, or associating with him. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal Christ to an individual.
God may lead us to pray for, serve, or associate with an unbeliever in some manner. But it is the Spirit, not our humanitarian efforts, who works the works of God. The best possible manner in which we can serve society is to be separate and holy unto God. Then the Lord can work through and with us as He will.
The unbelievers are not to participate in the assembly of the saints. If they are coming for instruction or because they feel a hunger for God, that is a worthy effort on their part. But the assembly of saints is not to be designed to attract unbelievers. In order to make an assembly understandable and acceptable to unbelievers the work of the Spirit must be suppressed.
We are to employ common sense in what we do, as Paul taught us (I Corinthians 14:23). But we are not to limit the duration or intensity of our worship, to water down the demands of discipleship, to prevent the operation of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, or otherwise suppress the necessary activities of the Spirit in order not to offend or confuse the unbelievers.
If someone comes in who is unlearned or an unbeliever, let him bow down and worship God. Evangelism and the instruction of the newly saved should be taking place outside the assembly of the saints. The gathering together of the members of the Body of Christ is for the purpose of offering holy worship to God and for building up the believers into the fullness of the stature of Christ.
One of the principal reasons for the prolonged immaturity and worldliness of the Christian believers is that their assemblies are governed by the needs of the unsaved in the hope of adding additional people to the assembly. Yet it is impossible for God to be pleased or for His will to be accomplished until the saints attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
It is our point of view also that as the saints are brought to maturity the work of evangelism will increase. But such impetus will be given by the Lord and in His way, and the work of bringing the Body of Christ to maturity will not suffer as a result.
It is time for the Christian people to recognize we are not of the world and that when we begin to lead holy and separate lives the world will hate us. In spite of this, we are the only light of the world. Apart from us the world perishes. We always are to be doing everything in our power to guide people toward Christ for their salvation and help.
We never are to enter an unnecessary alliance with an unbeliever no matter how "good" he or she may appear to be. The end of such an alliance will be much pain and remorse.
God is with Christians in a special way because He has chosen us out of the world. We are not better than other people. In fact, Christians often are self-centered and foolish.
We are to recognize we have been set aside by the Lord for His own purposes. We are not to bind ourselves together with those who do not share this calling. If we do, God will not accept us.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)
If we desire to be received by the Lord we must come out from among the unbelievers and seek the approval of God.
Nehemiah showed us how to deal with worldly alliances:
And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. (Nehemiah 13:28)
Let us "chase from us" all that is not of God. It is impossible for us to have true fellowship with someone who has not been circumcised in heart, who has not been born again, who has not been anointed by the Holy Spirit. David always must be separated from Jonathan.
It is time for us to put up a wall between us and dependence on the world for help. It is time for us to put up a wall between us and dependence on money for the work of the Kingdom. It is time for us to put up a wall between us and sin. It is time for us to put up a wall between us and the unbelievers. We must learn to distinguish between the circumstances when we are to be among unbelievers or worldly believers, and when we are not to be among them or looking to them for support.
I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2)
The Church must not resemble the world—not in deeds, words, or appearance. The world’s standards and our standards are completely different in many aspects. Covetousness, lust, reveling, violence, occult practices, and many other behaviors highly esteemed among worldly people are an abomination in the sight of God.
Our conduct is to be above reproach. Our moral behavior is to be clean, upright, compassionate, free from covetousness. Our words are to be sober, constructive, loving. Our thoughts are to be holy in the sight of the Lord. Our dress is to be modest and appropriate.
A Christian should act like a Christian, speak like a Christian, and look like a Christian.
Often the unsaved are able to give us a good description of how a Christian should act, speak, and look—a much better description than we sometimes hear in the churches.
The Lord Jesus is our Model in everything.
The world has an approved model, an image by which it judges actions, speech, and appearance. This image differs from country to country and from one era of history to another.
God has an approved model, an image, by which He judges actions, speech, and appearance. That approved Model is the Lord Jesus Christ. Except for minor details of culture, this model is precisely the same from country to country and from era to era.
In his Epistles, Paul gave us several lists that set forth how we are to behave ourselves morally. These have not changed to the present hour.
We are not of the world and we are not to bear the stamp of the world on our lives. We are of God. We are to bear the stamp of God on us in all we are and do. We are members of the family of God.
We are being transformed into Christ’s image by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). This is the new covenant. Our mind is renewed as we take the time each day to pray, to meditate in the written Word, to wait before the Lord. Consistent assembling with fervent disciples is helpful if we would be transformed into Christ’s image.
Our age is one of communication. There is a multitude of avenues through which impressions impact on our minds. Never before in the history of mankind on the earth have there been the books, magazines, newspapers, radio programs, television programs, motion pictures, satellite communications, computers, audio cassettes, that are in existence today. These are just the beginning of the development of electronics. All the information, persuasion, and examples they convey to our mind are molding us into the image chosen by those who give the information that is transmitted.
It is foolish to believe that the television barrage of violence, lust, occult practices, and covetousness is having little effect on the people who are exposed to it—the children in particular. Only a fool would maintain that children are not formed by the television programs, books, and motion pictures they encounter.
The Lord God commanded the Israelites to think about His words continually, to speak of them, to teach them to their children, to write them on the walls of their houses, to meditate on them all day and all night.
If we would be transformed by the renewing of our mind we must expose our mind to God’s Word. We must think continually of the things above us in Heaven. What we and our children read, watch, and listen to is to be screened carefully by our judgment of right and wrong.
The principle of transformation through the renewing of the mind bears directly on the education of young people. Both God and Satan are interested in the education of young people. It is the business of the school to mold the actions, words, thinking, and appearance of its students.
Much reasoning takes place among those employed in the field of education. The truth is much simpler than the theories that are advanced. The teacher holds an image, a concept of what is good and right and of what is bad and incorrect. He or she applies this image to the students so they will conform to the image in their behavior and appearance. The remainder of the profession of education consists of means to this end or a justifying of what is being presented.
Such being the case, it is of first importance that the image the teacher approves is identical with the image desired by those who are responsible for the student, or by the older student himself. If the images differ, then the program of education is leading away from the appointed goal.
Church and Sunday school, in many instances, cannot offset the impact made on children by their weekday teachers and by the television programs and Internet communications the children watch.
It is highly desirable—of the utmost importance—that the church, school, and parents be saying and demonstrating to the children and young people the Word of God. Even with this, the television and the motion pictures will do harm, if the youth are exposed to them, by detracting from the image of Christ.
There is no doubt that the television and motion picture productions work against the forming of the image of Christ. Sexual perversion and pornography is on the increase. Some of the fervent saints are finding it necessary to remove the television sets from their homes. Little by little, Satan is eroding the standards of the image of Christ. God shall hold us accountable for the upbringing of our children.
As the saint progresses in his pursuit of Christ, every aspect of his thinking, his speech, his behavior, his appearance, and his environment comes under the scrutiny of the Lord.
We cannot gain the total victory that is available until we address ourselves to the contest with total dedication and concentration. Nothing is to be undertaken or experienced apart from the sense of Christ’s approval. We do not have to strain to come into such closeness to the Lord, but we do have to ask for it, expect it, give ourselves to it.
We must be separated from the spirit of the world as the Lord guides and enables. We are not of the world. We are to be transformed into the image of Christ. If in the future we are forced to flee to some sort of "catacomb," then so be it. But in any case, we are not to be changed into the world, its ways, its attitudes, its filthy speech, its deceitfulness, its covetousness, its malice, its fashions.
Let us erect a wall against the image of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (I Corinthians 5:11-13)
Here is a problem. The Christian churches of today contain many who are immoral (including leaders, elders, and people), a multitude who are covetous and worship money and material goods, some who are gossips, slanderers, and abusive, some who are drunkards and gluttons, and others who are thieves and usurpers. There is swindling of money on the part of some of the outstanding leaders. The inexperienced and the elderly need to guard their money carefully because the evangelists and pastors will rob them if they are not wary.
There are numerous pastors and evangelists who are honest, who possess integrity. But there are enough of the other kind, we understand after listening to the testimonies of those who have been robbed, to warrant our warning.
Our day is like that of Ezra. There is so much sin in the churches, the standards have fallen so low, that there seems to be no practical way in which the mess can be cleaned up. The situation is worse than in Ezra’s day because there is no one person whom all the blood-washed would trust to make the necessary judgments.
Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. (Ezra 9:1,2)
When Ezra heard these things he tore his clothes, plucked the hair from his head and beard, and sat down filled with horror and dismay.
What is to be done after this?
In Ezra’s day the people of Israel put away their foreign wives.
What do we do today about the multitude of believers who are fornicators, adulterers, covetous, worshipers of things and people, filled with bitterness, backbiting, gossip, and hatred, abusive in their speech, drunkards, gluttons, swindlers?
How can we erect a wall of separation that will remove from the churches those who are not keeping the commandments of God?
Because of the false teaching of the present hour, the sinning believers are expecting to be "raptured" at any moment so Antichrist cannot hurt them. In the meantime, Antichrist has them firmly in his control. His mark is in their hands and minds.
Perhaps the best course we can take is to live the truth and preach the truth. Certainly we are not, in a fit of uncharitable haste, to drive from our midst some poor soul who is unable to achieve victory over a particular sin or bondage. We are to bear endlessly with the weak.
It is not the weak who are to be separated from us, it is those who are proud, defiant, who of their own will are choosing to be adulterers, covetous, abusive, liars, schemers, full of rage and bitterness. They will not accept correction. They are a law to themselves. They do not walk in humility, in confession of sin before the Lord. They have chosen the way of Balaam, of Jezebel, of Korah, of Cain, of Balaam. The Christian churches contain many of this kind.
What can we of the local church do? We can turn away from all evil ourselves and refuse to have fellowship with those who are not demonstrating sincerity in the Christian walk. Sometimes the true saints feel that they should maintain fellowship with those who are seeking to disrupt the assembly, believing they are showing Christ’s love in so doing. But evil is infectious. The result may be that the well meaning believer himself becomes deceived and loses his crown of life.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17,18)
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? (I Corinthians 5:11,12)
"Not to keep company"!
If we will choose to pray, turn from our wicked ways, and humbly seek the face of the Lord, waiting on His will in all matters, God will help us cleanse from our personality all that is displeasing to Himself.
It is certain that our pride and our sins are preventing the floods of revival glory we desire so fervently, that we must have if the Body of Christ is to come to the fullness of the stature of Christ, and if the Gospel of Christ is to be preached to every person on the earth in our generation.
It is time for God to send us true prophets. On some occasions ancient Israel had only one true prophet of the Lord. He had to stand against his entire nation. He alone bore the responsibility of announcing to the people that God was speaking to them to turn from their wicked ways.
The Lord’s prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so forth) did not cry out against the sins of the world, in many instances, but against the sins of Israel. Such servants of the Lord are needed today.
Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. (Jeremiah 15:19)
It is time today to return to the Lord. The Pentecostal churches originally were a model of prayer and holiness. Now many of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are a carnival. The teachings are unscriptural, man-centered, designed to appeal to the desires of the listeners. We are in a time of lukewarmness, apathy, spiritual coldness and deadness.
The churches are being taught that God wishes the saints to be rich, happy, always having a good time. The awe of God is not present. Pleasure, self-glorification, and entertainment are the goals. People are worshiped and worship themselves. The spirit is smug, arrogant, tinny, frothy, self-centered. God is not in it. Christ is not in it. The Holy Spirit is not in it.
The Pentecostal believers are becoming the False Prophet and will support the government of Antichrist.
God is commanding us to cast off the spirit of deception, of sensational, fun-loving, impulsive religious activity. Our churches have not been disciplined by imprisonment and suffering. God will deliver us from deception if we ask Him.
It is time for us to return to the simplicity of Christ, to holiness, to prayer, to quietness of spirit, to humility. Although we are boasting of our spiritual prowess we shall not accomplish anything "for God." We are completely undone and destitute of everything of worth unless God, in His mercy, decides to forgive our arrogance and use us in the building of His Kingdom.
If we confess our sins and our pride to the Lord, turning to Him in complete humility of spirit, He will "bring us again." We will stand before Him. We will worship Him and perform His perfect will, meanwhile ignoring the expectations of those who have been caught up in the current emphasis on self-glorification, who measure success by the size of buildings and the number of those who participate, who have made Christianity a commercial operation.
We must "take forth the precious from the vile." There has been little judgment among us. The believers are ignorant of the difference between spiritual cleanness and uncleanness, some supposing that "under grace" our sins will not prevent us from entering the Kingdom of God. We have not had our senses exercised to discriminate between good and evil or to choose the good and reject the evil.
It is time for God to baptize us with the fires of Divine judgment. It is time for God to point out to us what He accepts and what He does not accept. Many Christians are weak and sickly, and some die before their time, because they are walking in unrighteousness. The body and blood of Christ are bringing death rather than life to them.
The writings of the New Testament are clear concerning what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to God. Paul himself, as well as the other writers, gave us several lists of the practices of the flesh, stating that those who practice such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:5).
Yet the churches continue on their way, ignoring almost completely the numerous commandments set forth in the New Testament. From pulpit and pew we hear the ancient lie, "Ye shall not surely die."
If we do not immediately purge ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, separating ourselves as Christians from sin, and from "believers" who are lustful, covetous, and drunken, God will send the fires of judgment on us so His Church may be pure and holy unto Himself.
There is a multitude of religious voices speaking to us today. But the individual who takes forth the precious from the vile shall speak as the single voice of God.
Once we make the decision to seek the Lord we never are to turn again to those who still are following the fleshly patterns of religious fun and games. They may scorn us and otherwise pressure us to conform to their foolishness and sin. But we are never, under any circumstances, to fear their opinions or to turn again to their ways. They may decide to turn and go our way, but we never are to return to the fruitless practices of the religious Babylon (man-directed Christianity).
And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible. (Jeremiah 15:20,21)
It is difficult to comprehend how God could refer to His own chosen nation as the "wicked" and the "terrible." But Satan fights with special vigor when he is using religious people to persecute the true saints.
Whenever a believer departs from sin he makes himself a prey of the other believers. Their religious pride rises up and they are ready to commit murder. This accounts for the present-day reaction against "tongues" on the part of some of the Christians.
The common people heard Jesus gladly. The devout and learned leaders of Israel howled for His blood.
Today there is much religious indifference in the wealthy nations. People are somewhat tolerant of the beliefs of their neighbors.
But three occurrences are on the horizon: (1) the remnant of true believers will commence practicing and teaching the righteous and holy ways of the Lord; (2) worldly "Christians" and secular people will be threatened by the revival of righteousness and will lash out against it; and (3) various disasters will interrupt the comfortable, well-fed lives of the citizens of the prosperous nations.
These three occurrences, which will occur partly because of the prayers of the godly (Revelation 8:4,5; 11:6; James 5:17), will result in intense religious persecution, according to our understanding. In that hour the true Christians will be separated from the multitudes of people who profess to be believers but whose sincerity has not been tested as yet.
The false believers, those who say they are "Jews" but who are of the assembly of Satan, will fight against the true remnant. But all who are trusting in Christ will stand in the eternal Rock. In fact, the time will come when the false believers will worship God at the feet of the true saints of Christ. The true believers cannot be overthrown because they are an eternally inseparable, integral part of the resurrection of Christ.
God makes the true saint a reinforced wall of bronze. Bronze speaks of that which can survive the fires of Divine judgment. If we are willing to come out from among those who do not have integrity, who are not sincere in their pursuit of Christ, the Lord God will make us a reinforced bronze wall. We will serve as a division between the holy and the unholy, between what is acceptable to the Lord and what is not acceptable to the Lord.
As soon as the bronze wall of division has been established, every believer is brought down to the valley of decision. He must decide whether to walk in the righteous ways of the Lord or to follow the comfortable, seemingly secure, undemanding, popular ways of man-directed Christianity.
It is time for those who are distressed over the current deplorable spiritual condition of the Christian churches to rebuild the wall of the holy city of God.
We must cease from depending on the world and on money for assistance in building the Kingdom of God.
We must confess and turn away from all our sins and self-seeking.
We must never enter an alliance with an unbeliever unless it is necessary for some reason and we have peace with the Lord concerning it.
We must turn away from trusting in the communication media of the world and meditate day and night in the Word of God, being changed into the image of Christ.
We must separate ourselves from the believers who are walking in sin and not seeking the Lord earnestly for deliverance from their sin.
If we will build the wall of division between the Church and the world, the Lord Jesus Christ will come to us and bless us. We will stand before Him. We will be His voice in the land. The light of God will shine with clarity on the world and we will become the promised blessing to the nations of the earth (Genesis 22:18, 28:14).
The Book of Nehemiah contains some principles that are helpful when we enter the work of rebuilding the wall of righteousness and holiness, the wall that one day will stand between the new Jerusalem and the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. (Nehemiah 2:11)
The typology of the Scriptures makes it clear that God will build and perfect His Kingdom in "three days."
The volume of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was two thousand cubic cubits, while the volume of the Most Holy Place was one thousand cubic cubits. These numbers symbolize the two thousand years of the Church Age (the Holy Place) and the one thousand years of the Kingdom Age (the Most Holy Place). Three thousand years can be regarded as three days.
Jesus said, "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32).
The "third day" is the Millennial Jubilee, the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the kingdom-wide spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation, the Day of the Lord. During this era the new Jerusalem will be perfected in Heaven and the nations of the earth will be released from the bondage of Satan.
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight. (Hosea 6:2)
We now are in the period of transition from the Church Age to the Kingdom Age (the Millennial Jubilee). This is why the seals that have been on the vision (Daniel 12:9) are being removed and we can begin to understand more clearly the purpose and plan of God. We are approaching the "third day"—the time when the work of God in Christ will be brought to perfection.
And I arose in the night, . . . (Nehemiah 2:12)
It had been reported to Nehemiah that "the wall of Jerusalem also is broken, and the gates thereof are burned with fire" (Nehemiah 1:3).
Nehemiah was the Cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. Nehemiah was comfortably situated in Babylon but he took the distress of his nation to heart.
Some of us also are comfortably situated in "Babylon," being of the world and "worshiping" in a worldly church. Today the Church of Christ is split into a thousand fragments. Sin and self-seeking have destroyed its testimony. The so-called "Christian nations" are floundering in lust, covetousness, drunkenness, and violence. These sins are in the churches as well as in secular society. The wall is broken and the gates have been burned with fire.
We can choose to spend the rest of our life playing the comfortable church games. Or we can turn to the Lord in desperate sincerity in order to find if there is something we can do to help build the wall against uncleanness and rebellion.
Nehemiah, apparently a very competent man, decided, after fervent prayer and fasting, that God had put it in his heart to go and do something about the deplorable state of the remnant of his own race (the Jews) in Jerusalem. This meant a change from Nehemiah’s comforts and luxuries in Babylon to the rough and dangerous work of fortifying Jerusalem against its enemies.
Nehemiah "arose in the night." The present-day activities of the Christian churches are, in numerous instances, frothy and carefree. There is much joking and self-assurance in the pulpit. It is an abomination, given the impoverishment of the Body of Christ throughout the world. All of us who minister ought to be crying out to God continually.
If we decide to rebuild the wall of separation between the holy and the unholy, and also the gates of entrance to the Presence of God, the nighttime will become apparent. We will begin to understand how terribly far from God the churches have drifted.
When we arise to restore that which has been torn down by the enemy we will find that the fun and games are over. We will behold the cross of Christ. We will be confronted with a rough, hazardous undertaking. We will have to count our own life as expendable in the work of the Kingdom. The Word that was sweet in the moment of revelation becomes bitter in our soul as we begin to bear in our flesh that which is lacking of Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24).
There is no way in which to begin the work of restoration of Christ’s Body other than by "arising in the night." It will always be "night" when we arise, or soon thereafter.
. . . I and some few men with me; . . . (Nehemiah 2:12)
In our day much emphasis is placed on numbers of people. The more people are involved the more is being done in the Kingdom, it is supposed. We may discuss the need for quality in our services but we are worshiping at the altar of bigness. The scriptural examples do not agree with this emphasis.
When we decide to truly seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness we may become a minority. We cannot count on being popular. The demands of discipleship, of righteousness, of holiness, of obedience to God, must be reinstated in the churches if we expect to gain the awe of the Presence of God in our midst. As soon as we insist on righteousness and obedience to Christ, the majority of "believers" may leave. We must be prepared to let them leave.
More can be done with eleven true saints than twelve thousand believers who are unwilling to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Most of us assent that such is the case. When we begin the work of erecting the wall of defense against the enemy we may be required to demonstrate our conviction.
. . . neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: . . . (Nehemiah 2:12)
God’s people are sheep when it comes to spiritual warfare. Too much talk goes on in the churches. He who would arise and build the wall and gates of Jerusalem soon learns to speak less. After some experience in spiritual warfare we find that much pain, confusion, and defeat can be avoided by keeping our own counsel. It is wise not to speak until it is necessary and until we have something to say that will build up the faith and wisdom of our listeners. Babbling belongs to children. It is not fitting in the mouth of a warrior.
Nehemiah wisely decided to make his investigations without divulging his intentions to anyone. He knew that revealing his intentions prematurely would only cause unnecessary resistance.
. . . neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. (Nehemiah 2:12)
The work of restoring the defenses of the Church often is made easier if we limit ourselves to what is necessary. We do not need large sums of money, numerous people, or other fleshly assistance in order to accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God. All that is needed is the Lord and a few people who will do whatever the Lord says.
The record of the Scriptures shows us clearly that the works of God are done by one or a few obedient persons. Money and masses of people never are emphasized in the Scriptures. When we see the churches emphasizing money and masses of people, large efforts of the flesh, we know the hearts of the leaders have turned away from God.
And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, . . . (Nehemiah 2:13)
The concept of the "valley" is one of the most important ideas to be found in the Scriptures. The valley is the "valley of decision," of Joel 3:14. The idea is that of choosing, of deciding, of making up our mind. The Christian warfare is difficult at best, but it is impossible for the individual who cannot make up his mind to die to the world and to take up his cross and follow the Master.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (I Kings 18:21)
The people did not answer Elijah because they could not decide firmly whom to serve.
In order to become a victorious saint the believer must cast off the world as an unclean thing. He must despise the ways of the world, trampling under his feet all its allurements. He must do the same with the temptations that come from evil spirits. He must stand against them, renouncing them and casting them from himself as the Holy Spirit enables.
Until we decide firmly that the flesh profits nothing, that there is nothing good in the spirit of the present age, and that Satan and his demons are vicious, perverse creatures who are seeking to tear down everything Christ is creating in us, we cannot possibly achieve victory or help rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)
The churches of today are filled with people who are seeking the blessing of Christ on their lives. This attitude is commendable, but it is not nearly strong enough to stand up under the testings at hand. We are approaching the climax of the conflict of the ages. Each person will be forced into the valley of decision before Jesus returns.
There are two places in which one may choose to dwell. On one side of the valley is the land of pride and self-centeredness. On the other side is the land of laying down our life and serving God.
In the present hour there is much confusion. There is no wall between the two lands—the two places are intermingled. The light has not been separated from the darkness.
This mixture will not stand in the Day of Christ. The light must be separated from the darkness. There must be a division between the land of self-centeredness and sin and the land of faith in God and righteousness. Every Christian must choose one land or the other.
As the godly remnant of today erect the wall between the holy and the unholy, and as the wheat and the tares come to maturity, each person will be required to make a decision. He must choose to join either with those who are able to reconcile their enjoyment of the world with their Christianity, or else with those who are not of the world and who continually labor to separate themselves from the world and sin.
The decision to wholly follow Christ, after one has served the Lord for a period of time according to the current deplorable standards, may require more effort and suffering than the believer is willing to endure. He may not be able to bring himself to believe God wants him to be denied things, people, and situations that are part of his very soul—or so it seems.
But God often does require this degree of self-denial, of pain, of willingness to defer one’s desires. It is not easy. It is possible but not easy. The individual who is not willing to lay down his life for Christ is not worthy of Christ. Christ laid down His Life so we may live. Now we must lay down our life so He may live in us and so other people may live by His Life.
The hammer of God beats blow after blow until it strikes hard and clean on the anvil of our soul. It is in such a furnace of affliction, denial, and thirst that we come to know God. There is no other way. The adamic nature in us screams like a pig being slaughtered! But there is no other way.
As soon as we make up our mind to serve Christ, and Him alone, our whole being is filled with light. Then the life of victory is possible.
There is nothing of worth we yield to Christ that is not given back in this world, and we shall receive eternal life in the world to come. Christ is a King and He will not be outdone in giving by the dust of the ground (which we are). Obviously, faith and trust in God are necessary if we are to be able to relinquish to Christ that which is as our very soul.
Whoever would arise and rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem will soon be required to decide whether or not he is willing to be faithful unto death. Overcoming the accuser of the brothers is possible only to those who are willing to love not their lives to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).
Nehemiah gave up his life when he left the palace of Artaxerxes to direct the work of restoring the wall and gates of Jerusalem
. . . even before the dragon well, . . . (Nehemiah 2:13)
As soon as we are forced down into the valley of decision we are confronted by that ancient dragon—Satan. Our Christian life to this time may have been filled with fun and laughter, with bright choruses and happy group activities. Now we will discover that Satan is as real as the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is determined that we, as an individual, will not succeed in erecting the wall between what is holy and what is unholy. Satan thrives in the mixture of darkness and light. He will resist with all his cunning any attempt to define good and evil.
Satan attacks each of us according to our peculiar weaknesses. Be sure that every weak area of your personality will be sought out and probed for vulnerability. These probings will range from the sweet enticements of romantic spirits to attacks on your sanity by spirits of darkness. You will be threatened in every conceivable manner.
All you hold dear will hang seemingly by a thread. Sickness may overtake you or your loved ones. Your children may suffer in some manner. You will be sifted as wheat. Christ will pray for you that your faith will not fail. In this arena you will come to know God. In the present hour you know about God. But in that day you will know God. There is a difference.
Do not count on any human being to help you or to understand your suffering. They may cast you out. But Christ never shall forsake you, and He is wiser and stronger than Satan. The enemy cannot harm you provided you keep your trust in Christ. Christ shall bring you through as He did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
You will fight for your life, and when you win, God will change your name. You will be transformed for eternity. You will not fail in your struggle unless there is some person, thing or situation you value more than the approval of Christ. The choice is yours.
Satan was defeated completely on the cross of Calvary. He cannot harm a Christian unless he can entice that person to turn away from Christ. Christ is infinitely greater than Satan. The contest is not one of power against power. Christ retains all power. The contest has to do with truth and with our faith in God. It is faith that is the victory that overcomes the world.
God is looking for people who believe and trust in His Character. No power can harm the believer who maintains his trust in the faithfulness of God.
The dragon, Satan, is not threatened by the desire of the believers to go to Heaven, to the spirit realm. Satan is seeking the worship of the nations of the earth, which are Christ’s inheritance. As long as the Christians talk about going to Paradise to live forever, Satan is not troubled.
But Satan is terrified of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and also of a believer that is putting the sin out of his life. Satan understands that God intends to establish His righteous Kingdom on the earth. He understands also that the establishing of God’s Kingdom in the earth includes the erecting of a wall between a holy Church and the nations.
Satan knows the construction of that wall signifies the termination of his freedom to enslave the nations of the earth, because it means Jerusalem will be strong enough spiritually and morally to bring the nations into God’s will. Satan will resist furiously all who attempt to construct the wall—the separation between the holy and the unclean.
. . . and to the dung port, . . . (Nehemiah 2:13)
Elimination is one of the most important systems of the physical body. When the system of elimination is not functioning properly, sickness, or even death will result.
This is true also of the Christian Church and of the individual believer. We are to walk in the continual confession and repentance of our sins so the Lord may purge them from us. We are to "wash our feet" daily. We are to keep on washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb.
How quickly the sins pile up! It does not take long for us to become callous, to develop a grudge against a fellow Christian, to be captivated by a wicked imagination, to be caught up in a scheme to make money, or to enter some other trap or activity that leads us away from the fervent serving of the Lord.
The Christian warrior, he who would assist in the rebuilding of the wall and gates of Jerusalem, soon learns to remain always in an attitude of repentance and openness before the Lord. He keeps on confessing his sins as the Holy Spirit reveals them to him.
As we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It is not a case of committing the same sins over and over. God not only forgives our sins He also cleanses us. There is power in the blood of the Lamb. There is power in the Holy Spirit of God. We are, through the Holy Spirit, to put to death the deeds of our body (Romans 8:13).
There is no sin that the blood of Jesus, the Spirit of God, and the Word of God, working together cannot expose and cast out. The knowledge of good and evil is in the Word. The authority is in the blood. The power is in the Spirit.
The saint cannot, under the new covenant, be forced to keep on sinning. Christ was manifested in order to destroy all the works of Satan. If we desire to be free from sin, we can be. New-covenant grace contains the truth, the authority, and the power to set us free from the bondages of sin.
Today the Christian churches are filled with sinning believers. This is because the truth of Christ has not been preached. Devout, sincere Christians are continuing to sin because they do not know the provisions contained in the new covenant. It also is a fact that many sincere believers are physically sick because they do not understand the provisions of the new covenant concerning healing. The truth and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ enable us to get the upper hand over the sins of our flesh, and in many instances to obtain healing for our body.
One of the greatest needs of the hour is for the Lord’s people to humble themselves, pray, seek the face of the Lord, and turn from their wicked ways. The Lord Jesus will bless each of us who does that.
. . . and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken, . . . (Nehemiah 2:13)
The churches of our time are mixed together with the world. The churches are not set apart from the business, the education, the communication, the politics of the world. The fashions of the world enter freely into the churches. In many instances the Christians are not different in thinking, behavior, or appearance from the unsaved.
One reason for the mixture is the teaching that the purpose of redemption is to provide us with a ticket to Heaven. Since we are saved by "grace," and grace is defined (unscripturally) as an unconditional, continuing pardon of our sins, our main concern is to keep from losing our "ticket" so when we die we will be admitted to Paradise. How we conduct ourselves on the earth is not critically important.
A second reason for the mixture of the world with the Church is the conceiving of the local church as a social organization, as a part of the local community. The local church is not a part of the local community. It is the prophet, the lampstand of God in the local community. The term church means called out from the community. We saints are not of the world.
A third reason for the mixture is the idea that as long as we are in the world we are obligated to sin. This was true under the old covenant, and the continual offerings were God’s provision for those who were suffering from the inability of the Law of Moses to set us free from sin.
But the fact that Christ was offered only once signifies that under the new covenant we are to be set free from the coercive power of sin. The old covenant provided for the forgiveness of sin on a repeating basis. The new covenant is directed toward the forming of a new individual who does not sin.
The blood of Jesus keeps on forgiving our sins as we continue in the process of transformation. Otherwise the judgment of God falls on us. We remain "in Christ" and free from condemnation provided we are moving ahead in the process of transformation and bearing the fruit of the image of Christ (John 15:6).
A fourth reason for the mixture of the world with the Church is the idea that we can save people by becoming like them, by "loving" them. However, it is not scriptural that we can save people through means of our natural, well-intentioned love.
We are to show kindness to all people because we are Christians. But only the Spirit of God can bring an individual to Christ. If we attempt to bring people to Christ by "loving" them, by acting like them in order to make them comfortable and gain their approval and good will, we will not bear a true testimony. We will compromise the standards of discipleship, of holiness, of righteousness.
A fifth reason for the mixture is the overemphasis on evangelism at the expense of building up the believers to the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
None of the purposes of God can be fulfilled until we have been brought to unity and maturity in Christ. God is creating a Bride for the Lamb (a new Eve for the new Adam), an eternal habitation for Himself, judges of men and angels, and priests and rulers who will govern the nations of the saved throughout the ages to come. None of these roles is possible to a person who has not been created an integral part of the unity and maturity of Christ.
When evangelism (the work of bringing new souls into the Kingdom) is overemphasized at the expense of building up the believers in the Head, minimum attention is paid to the creation of the unity and maturity of the souls who already have been brought into the Kingdom. The assemblies of saints deliberately are kept spiritually shallow so as not to "offend" those who are not acquainted with the mysteries of the Kingdom.
What has been the product of the overemphasis on evangelism? It has been millions of Christian "believers" who still are part of the world spirit and system. The travail of the ministry has not been strong or deep enough to accomplish thorough conversion—the creation of Christ—in this "mixed multitude."
The jasper wall does not stand shining and clear in our day. The mixture of the world and the churches presents little danger to the kingdom of Satan. When men and women of God arise to build the wall and gates of Jerusalem we can expect an uproar in both the religious and the secular sectors.
There is a need today for the evangelizing of those who never have heard the name of Jesus. There also is a need (perhaps greater!) for bringing the saints to the unity and maturity of the fullness of Christ.
. . . and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. (Nehemiah 2:13)
There are twelve gates in the wall of the new Jerusalem. There is an angel stationed at each gate. The names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel are written on the gates. There are three gates for each point of the compass. Each gate is a massive pearl, and the gates never will be closed (to those who keep the commandments of God).
After the wall that separates the world from the Presence of God has been constructed we need points of access through which the righteous of the world can enter and benefit from the Presence of God in the saints.
The members of the Church are not the only people who will be saved from destruction. While this possibly may be true throughout the Church Age (Acts 2:47; Romans 9:27; for example), it is clear from the Prophets that Israel is the Seed through which the nations of the earth are to be blessed.
And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. (Isaiah 60:10)
The above passage describes the coming of the nations of the saved to the Church, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb. It is obvious that we have two groups of saved people here: the nations of saved people, and then the Church, the elect of God. These two groups appears several times in the Book of Isaiah.
The concept of "Israel" is not that the members of Israel are saved and everyone else is to be destroyed; rather, "Israel" is a chosen nation through which the other nations will be blessed.
The Body of Christ, which is the true and eternal Israel (although God still is mindful of physical Israel and will turn again to the Jews before the close of the age), is a chosen nation of kings and priests who will serve as the access to God for the nations of saved peoples of the earth (I Peter 2:9).
The concept of the Church (Israel), and of nations of the saved that are separate from the Church and ruled and blessed by the Church, is presented clearly in Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61. The reason for the construction of the impregnable wall between the Church and the world is not that the Church may be saved and the world cast into the Lake of Fire; it is that controlled accesses may be provided so the peoples of the earth can approach God (who is dwelling in His called-out, holy saints) and not be destroyed.
Notice the portrayal in Isaiah:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
This certainly is not a picture of people being baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ. Rather it is the fulfillment of the promise of God to Abraham that in his Seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
These verses of the second chapter of the Book of Isaiah speak of the effect on the nations when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth. The Kingdom of God is the Church, the new Jerusalem, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.
When those whose life Christ is are revealed with Him from Heaven, the prisoners of the earth will be liberated.
Then will the creation be delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Then will the peoples of the earth believe that God indeed has sent Christ and that God loves the Church as He loves Christ (John 17:23).
But none of this glory is possible until the wall between the Church and the world has been constructed. Apart from the wall there can be no gates, no accesses to the Glory of God. God will not establish His throne on the earth until there is a wall that shields His Presence from the nations of the earth.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)
The twelve gates typify the fullness of the family of God. All of God’s true Israel will be brought to "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:13). All will know the Lord "from the least to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:11).
The fact that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the twelve gates, a tribe for a gate, suggests to us that God is perfecting people of differing personalities to serve as entrances to Himself. Each of the sons of Jacob was different from the other sons and a unique prophecy went forth on him. The sons of God vary in personality. God does not conform us to the image of other saints. He preserves our uniqueness while He perfects us.
There is but one gate to God, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ is brought to maturity in His Body, many gates to the Glory of God are formed because of the new creations produced by the blending of Christ with unique individuals.
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways of them" (Psalms 84:5). Such saints lead us joyfully in the paths which lead to Zion, to the fullness of the glory and blessing of God.
The ages to come will be filled with diverse personalities. God is carefully preparing diverse entrances to Himself so every kind of person will be able to find an entrance to God.
Let us never attempt to conform people to our image. We can serve as an example and an inspiration to others, but we must allow each individual to come to spiritual maturity and to serve exactly as God guides him or her.
There is an angel stationed at each gate in order to prevent the ungodly from entering. The members of the holy city have been made perfect but the members of the nations of the saved have not been made perfect.
Concerning the nations of the saved, God has wiped away all tears from their eyes; there is no more death; there is no more sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. God has lifted the curse from mankind and from the earth.
But people still will be people, not robots. The angel at each of the twelve gates will insure that no individual enters through the gate into the Paradise of God who is not keeping the commandments of God. One rebellion is enough!
People still must be ruled and taught—even during the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints shall rule over the nations of the earth for eternity, making certain that Christ’s will always is performed.
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
The bodies of the transgressors, now abiding in eternal fire, will serve as a perpetual warning to the nations of the saved and to the angels of the consequences of rebelling against God (Isaiah 66:24).
The three gates for each point of the compass tell us that God loves the world and will save the world from destruction. God does not love the satanic spirit of the present world system, but God does love the nations of the earth and gave His only begotten Son that the world may be saved through Him.
We Christians have a tendency to believe that God loves only His Church. It is true that God loves the perfected Church as He loves Christ. It is true also that God loves all the peoples whom He has created. He is perfecting the saints so that the saved peoples of the earth may have a light by which to walk and an entrance into the Presence of God.
The gates never will be closed. We are to be ready to minister to the needs of people in season and out of season. God is breaking our hearts so there may be room for other people in us.
The true saint does not give part of his time to God, he gives all of his time to God. He is being fashioned as a gate of the new Jerusalem even when he is employed in secular work. He is to be ready always to serve as an access to God, as the Spirit directs him. The saint must give all of his personality to the Lord to use as He will or he certainly shall suffer irreparable loss of inheritance.
The wall is of jasper but the gates are of pearl. Jasper is a mineral formed from heat and pressure, portraying the tribulations through which the personality of the saint is hardened in righteousness. Pearl, the entrance to God, is formed from our coping with years of frustration and irritation.
As long as we are living in our flesh and self-centeredness we cannot serve as an access to the Presence of God. When people come to us in order to find the Lord they are met by our self-centeredness and self-love, not by the Glory of God. The Lord spends much time destroying our lusts and self-will. This is a painful process but the result is a gate to the Presence of God.
What a tearing down and an enlarging of us this is! It results in a "pearl" of infinite price. Multitudes of people receive the grace of God as a result of our patient acceptance of the sufferings of Christ.
The entire Christ, Head and Body, is the eternal House of God. The House of God is the "gate" of Heaven, the "ladder" that is set up on earth and reaches to Heaven (God’s alternative to man’s Tower of Babel).
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:12)
And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. (Genesis 28:17)
The fact that the gates Nehemiah saw were "consumed with fire" indicates that Divine judgment had fallen on the accesses to the Presence of God and they no longer could serve their intended function.
The Lord Jesus warned the church in Ephesus that if it did not repent and do the first works He would come and remove its lampstand out of its place. This meant the church in Ephesus no longer would be able to serve as the light of the world, the guide to the will and Presence of God.
The gates of the eternal city bear the names of the twelve sons of Jacob. This is noteworthy because the twelve brothers did not live exemplary lives. Yet their names will endure for eternity. This fact emphasizes strongly the role election and grace play in the Kingdom of God. God chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob. God chooses whom He will. The Potter does as He will with the clay.
Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: . . . (Nehemiah 2:14)
The waters of eternal life Christ gives to us begin as a small fountain deep within us. The "waters" of our flesh and soul flow contrary to the eternal waters of the Holy Spirit. For many years the two different kinds of life struggle for mastery of our personality.
If we remain faithful to Christ the waters of death gradually subside and finally begin to pass away completely. But the waters Christ has given to us enlarge until they are a pool—the "king’s pool." When that happens we never thirst again.
Many waters are flowing today in the world. Mankind is confused. What is of God, and lasting and worthy, and what is not of God, not lasting, not worthy? That is the question.
The Divine testimony of the last days has the authority to "shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy," and authority "over waters to turn them to blood" (Revelation 11:6).
We understand this to be a symbolic portrayal of the God-given authority to control life. The "two witnesses," whom we believe to be the saints moving in the fullness of the latter-rain revival, will be able to withhold the moving of the Holy Spirit such that the Life of God is revealed only where God’s will is being done. The works of the flesh will be shown to be the corruption and death (blood) that they are.
The believers, as well as the people of the world, are in perplexity. With hundreds of denominations of Christians, and the multitude of theories of educated men and women, how is anyone able to determine what is worthy and eternal and what is corrupt—proceeding from the self-glorifying of people? At times it is difficult to distinguish the true from the false, the precious from the worthless, the Divine from the human or demonic.
But it will not be so in the period just before the coming of the Lord from Heaven. The Divine testimony will separate the true Life of God from the numerous imitations. The wall that divides truth from error, life from death, will be constructed by the Lord Jesus Christ working through and with the members of His Body.
In that day the Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come, whoever is thirsty, and take the water of life freely." The water of life can be found only in the Bride of the Lamb, for the Spirit of God is in her.
But those who, loving darkness, choose a lie, will be revealed for what they are.
. . . but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. (Nehemiah 2:14)
As we press forward in Christ the way becomes increasingly narrow.
Nehemiah began his investigation riding on one animal—a donkey, or perhaps a horse. Eventually he was forced to proceed in another direction.
So it is with us today. The further we penetrate into the shambles that is the Church of Christ the more difficult and hampered the undertaking becomes. We may have believed, when we began, that returning to the righteousness of the Lord was going to require some reasonable effort on our part. Now we discover that much of the superstructure (the foundation has been laid well by the Christian ministry) of salvation must be restored. No more smooth, quick rides for us. From here on it is one prayerful step at a time.
There is nothing of eternal worth we can accomplish in our own strength and wisdom. It is Christ alone who can perform this work, who can build His Church. Our task is to walk with Christ and do exactly what He tells us with total faithfulness and constancy. His task is to perform all the works He hears and sees with His Father.
Nehemiah completed his survey and then returned to the leaders of the Jews. He informed them of the things God had put in his heart and of the support given him by King Artaxerxes. The priests and nobles, and others to whom he spoke, were encouraged to continue with the work of restoration.
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? (Nehemiah 2:19)
Contemporary scholarship informs us that Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were influential men of the times. We note in Nehemiah 2:10 that Sanballat and Tobiah were grieved that Nehemiah had come "to seek the welfare of the children of Israel."
The three men were concerned that Nehemiah had come because they aspired to political control over the area. They were profiting from the state of things as they were. The prospect of a strong Israel was threatening to them.
In many instances today, local churches are held in the grip of people who have been associated with the assembly for many years, or who are wealthy, but who are not fervent disciples of the Lord Jesus. It is not possible to perform the work of Christ while such "Sanballats" are influential in the church. One of three things probably will have to be done as the Lord directs: those sinners must repent, or they must leave the assembly, or the Lord’s true saints must leave.
It is time for the churches of Christ to be reformed.
It is time for God’s pastors and evangelists to cease being the hirelings of men and begin to herald the true Word of Christ. If we believe we must please men in order for God to supply our financial needs, then we need to return to secular work and wait on God until we hear from Him.
It is time for the wealthy and influential sinners of the Christian churches to repent.
We may think we will reform the Church in a blaze of glory. The truth is, we shall encounter scornful laughter. But as the wall of defense begins to take shape the scornful laughter will turn into violent persecution. We must prepare our hearts for this.
Nehemiah’s response to Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem was the godly one:
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. (Nehemiah 2:20)
Nehemiah pointed first to his complete dependence on God.
Then he stated the determination of the Jews to do the work of restoration.
Finally he notified the worldly that they have no place in the work of God.
These three concepts must be established firmly in our hearts and minds if we are to be successful in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, in bringing all true saints to "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God," and in bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation under heaven:
We must depend on God and look always to God in every detail of every situation.
We must do all we can, as the Lord shows us what to do.
We must not look to the world or to worldly believers for assistance as we construct the wall of separation between the Church and the world, and the accesses to the Presence of God.