Real change can only be brought upon by the transformation of the heart and as we saw throughout the accounts of the post-exile writings, the Israelites only ever changed their words but never their ways. Like Nehemiah, let us not waste time in forcefully correcting the actions of our fellow beings but rather connect them to God who is the only one who can intervene and make real change in their lives.
Unlike the returning exiles, we must renew our faith in Christ everyday and not wait for such moments to make us realise the need for God in our lives.
After rebuilding the wall, the exiles realized that they needed structural changes in their lives also.
Like the fictional agency “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, satan also has his agents placed all over this world and in every part of our lives and he will activate them when he sees us coming closer to God.
The pattern repeats itself again later in the final chapters of the book, where Nehemiah thinks he has won over the enemy only to find the enemy had already infiltrated their camps.
We have a habit of not leaving anything to chance. We feel the need to plan for our future and have a five year plan for our personal and work lives but seldom for our spiritual lives.
Nehemiah got off to a rocky start and as he will learn the lesson the hard way, that his efforts of securing the city had no effect on the hearts of the people, as they had already fortified their hearts to keep God out.
Ezra, who was sent to teach the scriptures to the exiles, spent his first stint in Jerusalem, separating families to purify the people rather than letting God deal with His people.
When God guides our paths, all the arrangements are made for us. Ezra did not have to worry about the finances for his trip or the funds for the temple sacrifices and ornaments or even to gather his troops, everything was prepared by God.
Fifteen years after the work on the temple had been halted due to numerous oppositions that the exiles faced, God sent his word to the people of Israel. First through the prophet Haggai (Haggai 1) and then two months later through the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 1), God spoke to the people commanding them to restart the work on the temple.
While the returning exiles continued work on the temple, the natives took notice of their new neighbors’ plans and offered help to Zerubbabel and Co.
…something was missing as in the midst of the shouts of joy, there was mixed, the sound of weeping also. No one could distinguish between who were shouting with joy or who were crying, overcome by their sorrow. God’s presence was missing which could only be felt by the older generation, the ones who had witnessed the glory of the previous temple before their land was conquered.
The intentions of the returning exiles were noble, leaving everything behind to rebuild the city of Jerusalem but as we will see in the following chapters, they did little to rebuild their broken relationship with God.