The Rebuilding, by Nehemiah, of The Wall of Jerusalem
By Annie F. Colt, from the September 1889 Christian Science Journal
“I AM doing a great work, so that I can not come down; why should the work cease whilst I leave it and come down to you?” To understand fully the circumstances under which the above words were said, it will be necessary to pick up a few threads of history.
Nehemiah was one of the captive princes of Judea, carried away to the court of Artaxerxes, the Persian King. Through his ability and faithfulness, he had been made cup-bearer to the king. But he could not forget Jerusalem. One day as he was walking before Susa, the Metropolis of the Persian, he heard some strangers that were entering the city, talking together in the Hebrew tongue. Upon inquiring about the condition of Jerusalem, he found that the wall of the city had been thrown down, and that thus it was at the mercy of neighboring enemies.
The situation of his people weighed heavily upon Nehemiah, and after laying his burden before the Lord, in prayer, he, at the first opportunity, obtained permission from the king to return to Jerusalem, rebuild its wall, and do all in his power to restore the Jews to their former prosperity.
Nehemiah returned, called the people together, and made preparations for rebuilding the wall. The work was prospering when the Ammonites and Moabites heard what was doing and formed a conspiracy to attack the city unawares and overthrow the work. Fortunately the Jews heard of their plan. Nehemiah, instead of being disturbed by the reports that reached him, ordered every man to put on his armor, and to keep right on rebuilding the wall, — to wear his armor and put his shield where it could readily be seized if needed. So the work of rebuilding the wall went on, for their enemies, when they heard the Jews were prepared for attack, gave up their plans.
Nehemiah had ordered that every man should first rebuild the wall over against his own house. When this work was completed and while the Jews were rebuilding the enclosing wall of the city, their enemies again planned to make them trouble; but without coming down from the wall, Nehemiah sent messengers to them with these words,— ” I am doing a great work, so that I can not come down; why should the work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you?”
In all this there is a lesson for us Christian Scientists to heed. We have been in a bondage worse than that of the Jews to the Persian king. The walls of our Jerusalem — spiritual sense — have been in ruins, and we exposed to the attacks of our enemies, the lusts of the flesh. The Founder of Christian Science has brought to us the perfect Truth, and has called on us to rebuild our walls. The work of rebuilding, or regeneration, must first be done in ourselves. Then comes the rebuilding of the walls for all, — the preaching of the blessed gospel of Truth to every creature.
While we rebuild our own walls through Truth, our enemies are partly willing to let the work go on; but as soon as we wish to branch out, and rebuild the wall of Truth about all their homes, then the people wish us to come down from the wall onto their level. But can we afford to do this any more than Nehemiah could? Can we afford to mingle with people on the plain of mortal mind, instead of keeping our place upon the solid foundation of the wall of Truth? If they wish to make a treaty with us let them come up to our plane, but we cannot, must not go back, down to theirs.
Probably when the Jews first thought of rebuilding the wall, their enemies thought they could not accomplish such a great work; but when they found the Jews had really commenced, then they sought to discourage them by attacks. Instead of discontinuing work the Jews simply made ready, and kept at work.
Let us look at our Sunday services and the founding of churches from this standpoint. The rebuilding of the wall of Truth, through church work, has progressed during the last few months as never before. In taking up this line of work, and making it a success, we have all found that the enemy must be met and overcome. In many places the people are not willing to have this part of the wall of Truth rebuilt, and when they find the Christian Scientists really in earnest, in perfecting this part of their work, they many times try to discourage them in various ways. But we shall all agree with the words of our Master, that ” No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Having tried all other plans and failed, the people now say to Christian Scientists, ” If this is Truth, why not stay in the churches and be the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump? ” But since we know by experience, that we cannot come down to them, but that they must come up to us, ought we not to reply to them in the words of Nehemiah, — ” I am doing a great work so that I can not come down; why should the work cease whilst I leave it and come down to you? ” Does not the work cease when we comply with the demands of those who are not in the Truth? If we follow every path of opportunity that God opens for us without being turned to either side by pretended friends or open opposers, we shall in due time reap our reward, the gathering in of all kingdoms and nations into the glorious freedom of the sons of God as revealed to us in Divine Science.
Nehemiah, being the last of the prophets, was called by the Jews, “The Seal of the prophets.” How beautifully this applies to our Teacher. She is to us the seal of the discoverers of Truth. Jesus came and demonstrated how the Truth was to make man perfect right here. The object of his life-work, after a few centuries, seemed to have been lost. Then only a glimmer of light was seen here and there, until one was brought forth who rediscovered the glorious and infinitely perfect significance of our Master’s life-work. She has realized for us all, how he was most truly “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” She first realized for herself how glorious it was to be free through the Truth, from the bondage of materiality. Then she set herself to the task of rebuilding the walls of the new Jerusalem. We have been called to help her in this glorious and yet solemn task. As the tumult of the enemy is heard in our camps, she orders us to put on our armor, and to stand ready to use our swords, but not discontinue the work. She says to us with Paul, ” Take unto ourselves the whole armor of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day; and having done all, to stand.”
After trying all sorts of devices to hinder the work our enemies now try to make her come down from the wall, onto their plane or level, through malicious animal magnetism. But we can all hear her saying in most emphatic tones, — ” I am doing a great work, so that I can not come down; why should the work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you?”
Can we not see that it is impossible for our Nehemiah to come down? Have we, her helpers, any more right to allow our part of the rebuilding of the walls of the New Jerusalem to languish because the enemy threatens, every now and then, to attack us and overthrow our work? How would the account of the rebuilding under Nehemiah read to us, if it said that his people had left their leader upon the wall, to meet the enemy and to finish the work alone and single handed? Our leader has furnished us with the weapons of warfare and drilled us in their use, and we must not take one backward step nor allow the enemy one inch of vantage ground.
Let us be up and doing, and hold on, till the last stone is laid, the wall perfected, about the city of our God.
Let us “press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus.” In due time we, too, shall see “the holy city — new Jerusalem — coming down out of heaven from God.” Then the Tabernacle of God will be “with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God,” “and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more.” “He that overcometh shall inherit these things ; and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” These glorious promises are to them that overcome! They are to us if we follow faithfully our Leader, and remember that “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”