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"Let Us Rise Up and Build"

(Nehemiah 2:18)

by

Eric P. Y. Lim.

Introduction.
The book of Nehemiah is such an inspirational writing to each and every succeeding generation. Within its sacred pages are the blueprints of great success in man's endeavours to pursue the noble, upright and enduring. This part of Scripture endears itself to those who would leave behind a living legacy of undying allegiance and unswerving devotion to God based on the high principles governing the people of God. It speaks of the lofty heights that mere man could rise, if he is willing to trust Almighty God and obey His charge to love his neighbour as he loves himself. Within its pages contained the unmistakable patriotism, a love of nation and people that is the hallmark of every good and noble deed, of nationalistic fervour and this emotion is aptly supported by a deep and abiding dependence upon the Sovereignty of God.

It is my privilege to speak on the topic, Let us rise up and build, which is rightly regarded as the theme of the book of Nehemiah. I am very thankful for the invitation to speak on this programme and I want to register my sincere appreciation for the exhausting effort expended by the organizers in hosting the 5th Annual Eastern Shore Lectureship. Your kind assistance to facilitate a smooth and enjoyable visit here has been noted with much thanksgiving. I bring to you greetings from the Lord's church at Lim Ah Pin Road in Singapore.

My assigned topic is entitled, "Let us rise up and build" which is lifted from Nehemiah 2:18. This answer relates to the monumental task of building up the wall of Jerusalem that was burnt and broken down as proposed by Nehemiah. This phrase represents an insight into the mental preparedness of the priests, nobles, rulers and workers as they answered the encouraging words of Nehemiah.

Firstly, 'Let us' denotes a persuasive, willing, voluntary and co-operative spirit prevalent among the respondents to the call of Nehemiah. We always see good progress and value in joint co-operation in any worthy cause, especially when the whole purpose is directed to the glory of God.

In the second place, 'rise up' indicates a readiness towards an activity that might be apparently there but which has been neglected or ignored for too long a time. It shows an unstoppable resolve to overcome every hindrance that might still stand in one's way. The major hindrance might be to overcome the personal problems of laziness and apathy towards that good work.

Finally, 'and build' clearly demonstrate a positive, constructive and edifying process that attaches great value and worth that the proposed project embodies. It is the exact opposite of destruction and tearing down. In every good and noble endeavour, may we be found always to say, "Let us rise and build." The faithful through the ages are noted in history to be relentless builders. For instance, Noah and his family built the ark (Genesis 6). King Solomon built the Temple (II Chronicles 3). Our Lord Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18) and passes on this obligation to Christians (Matthew 7:24-25) and the apostle Paul was a master builder following the blueprint (pattern) preserved in God's holy Word (I Corinthians 3:10). But as we reflect upon this phrase, to what worthy cause should we say, 'Let us rise and build'.

Let us rise and build a strong and resilient character.
The Bible introduced us to the man Nehemiah; a Jewish youth carried away captive by Nebuchanezzar, king of Babylon, in his successful campaign against apostate Judah that culminated in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Nehemiah, we find him in the position of the cupbearer in the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes. That Nehemiah, being a prisoner and an exile, could rise to such a highly trusted position relative to the king of a pagan and ungodly nation, speaks volumes about the man's integrity and wisdom by which his life radiates to those around him. In the mould of great statesmen as Joseph, Moses and Daniel who excelled in the courts of foreign world powers, he prospered because of his deep dependence and devotion to God Almighty. It reinforces in us the conviction that Christians need not live as the world does to be successful in an unbelieving world. The Bible repeatedly teaches Christians that we must necessarily function in the world but we must not be 'of the world'. (John 17:14-17; Romans 12:1, 2; I Peter 2:11-17). What much needed lessons the lives of these men of faith can be to our youths today! They valiantly rejected that which is sinful in the eyes of Jehovah God. Joseph repeatedly said 'No!' to the illicit sexual advances of his master's wife. Moses steadfastly said 'No!' to the pleasures of sin, which is for a season. Daniel purposefully said 'No!' to unfaithfulness to God. While Nehemiah unyieldingly said 'No!' to compromise for the sake of peace and co-operation from the enemies. We must continually say 'No!' to all sinful words, thoughts and deeds. We must vigorously reject the Devil's temptations for us to succumb to easy and unfruitful living, and to be grossly negligent of our Christian responsibilities and duties.

Christian character is what we leave behind in this world after we are dead: our thoughts, our deeds and our habits. These must be carefully formed and nurtured in our short earthly walk with God and it is accomplished by maintaining a positive attitude (Philippians 4:13), by a vigilant check on our habits (Proverbs 4:23) and by persistent addition of the Christian graces (II Peter 1: 5-8, 10). Let us not be found wanting in the numerous opportunities to wield our good influence and character in righteous Christian living. Philippians 2:14, 15.

Let us rise and build the Cause of Christ.
As we closely examine Nehemiah's character traits, we are amazed at the selfless nature of his love of God and nation. He was smitten with deep sorrow at the state of disrepair of his beloved Jerusalem and the tragic living conditions of the Jewish remnants inhabiting Jerusalem. It is noteworthy that his grief points him in the direction of proper examination of self and the sure source of unfailing help in God. He recognizes sin as the condition of their unhappy state (Nehemiah 1:6). It is becoming of us who care for the welfare of the church to first reflect upon our own fleshly weaknesses and sins and to make ourselves right with God. The apostle Paul was acutely aware of this as is reflected in I Corinthians 9: 25-27. Our Lord teaches precious gems in His parable of the Pharisee and the publican. (Luke 18:9-14). Let us never allow the sin of pride to harden us and thus render us unfit for God's use. Let us take to heart the Lord's admonition to holy living as recorded in II Timothy 2:19-21.

It is truly tragic that many in the church browse in blissful ease while the Enemy has been busy sowing tares. (Matthew 13: 24-30). The prophet Amos justly pronounces God's judgement on the indifferent and apathetic. (Amos 6:1, 4-6). Can God depend on us to be watchful on behalf of our brethren to see that the "wall of Truth" should never be broken down and that our brethren's spiritual welfare should be lovingly guarded. The Holy Scripture instructs that we must retain and contend for purity of doctrine (II Timothy 1:13), and this we must do to ensure our personal and our hearers' salvation. (I Timothy 4:16). We are sternly warned about false teachers whom God will reject and of being partakers with them in their evil deeds. (Jude 3,4; II John 9-11). Early in His public ministry, our loving Lord has issued this warning recorded in Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." The Bible solemnly foretells of men who possess itching ears, who would give willing heed to false teachers and the divine antidote to that situation is consistent preaching of God's written word. (II Timothy 4:1-5).

Let us rise and build better homes.

There is in every generation the urgent need to maintain the kind of homes that God intends for mankind as he sojourns upon the earth. The basic family unit is the first divine institution of God that is as ancient as time and as revered as the Headship of God over all His creation. God placed the first human pair, male and female, in the garden of Eden and provided that each may seek solace and comforting companionship in the other. The natural orderliness of the created universe reflects the perfect unity of the Godhead, as the divine design for the family reflect God's wisdom and providential care for the crowning glory of His creation.

In this generation, more than ever before, the world needs homes where God is the recognized Head, His word the as the only guiding light and His glory the sole motivating power. Apart from the observance of Biblical principles to govern the home, we repeatedly see the collapse of the family system, which lead to the blatant disregard for authority rampant in decadent societies. God's perfect arrangement calls for faithful parents to guide, nurture and train their children in the way of the Lord. (Proverbs 22: 6; Ephesians 6: 4; I Timothy 5:14). The godly home is the last line of defense against the ills that will otherwise overtake the world as it is commonly said, "As goes the home, so goes the nation."

Let us rise and build an awareness of Christ and His cross.

The world is wallowing in abject hopelessness because of the deadly consequences of sin. Outside of Christ there is no salvation. The Bible teaches these facts with amazing clarity. (Romans 3:23; 6:23; John 8:24). Sin separates man from God so that he can find none to help while he is deeply stained with sin. (Isaiah 59:1,2). It behooves all Christians to rise and build a keen awareness of Christ and His cross to those who are floundering in the depths of sin. The Bible faithfully gives God's answer to the sin problem. (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16). In respect of God's grace that must be extended, without respect of persons, to those of every nation who fears Him and works righteousness, every Christian must be gainfully employed in shouldering the responsibility of the Great Commission wherever we may go. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16). The dunamis (power) of God to save is contained in the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:16, 17), therefore we must rise and build up souls upon the safety and sure foundation of the Gospel of Christ.

Conclusion.

As we bring this lesson to a close, we notice that to rise and build are essential to God's people when they went back to Jerusalem. The wall of Jerusalem has a three-fold purpose for them. It ensures that their enemies might be restrained. It also ensures self-preservation. At the same time, it provides security for future generations.

In the very same manner, let us rise and build a strong and resilient character in preparation for the day of trial. Let us be busily involved to build the Cause of Christ in humble fulfillment of our purpose of life. Let us rise and build better homes to the glory of God. And finally, let us rise and build an awareness of Christ and His cross as the hope for a lost humanity.

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