Today our world is being carried on a rushing torrent of history that is sweeping out of control. While the United States is blessed by God is many ways and we do know His favor, many evidences of ruin and the effects of sin still remain: poverty, violence, addiction, crime, injustice, homelessness, gangs, family breakdown, division, strife, broken relationships, fear, isolation, hopelessness, and lives lived separated from God’s ways and His purposes. What was once the most prosperous nation that the world has ever seen has been steadily shrinking and is in a state of decline today. Today the world’s highest standard of living is not in the United States as it once used to be. Based upon the gross national product, the U.S. isn’t even in the top 12 list of the fastest growing nations of the world. America’s walls both morally and economically are literally crumbling before our eyes.
But this crashing down of walls is not a new 21st century problem. We see it happening throughout the course of history. Look at the example found in the Old Testament in the Book of Nehemiah. Israel was in serious trouble. The walls of Jerusalem were crumbling. The gates had been burned by fire. The gates of ancient cities were where most of the commerce of took place. The gates were also where the seat of government and leadership resided. With the gates burned with fire and the walls broken down, it was only a matter of time before the nation followed suit.
Nehemiah heard a report about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem which said that, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah 1:4 recounts Nehemiah’s brokenness at the devastation of Zion. Jerusalem was not simply his home, the place where his father’s were buried (2:3); it was the footstool of God, the place where God sealed his name and dwelt with his people. So, when Nehemiah was told of its ruination, he was grieved beyond words. Nehemiah’s heart grieved for the brokenness of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4-11). In response to the cry of his heart, the Lord put a desire in Nehemiah to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem. Nehemiah however wasn’t “just moved” – he was moved to the point of action. He prayed. He wept. He fasted. So many of us shake our head at what is going on in our nation, then carry on reading the newspaper, or turn the tv channel onto something more light, without allowing God to speak to our spirits causing us to respond in prayer and intercession and of course action. We pay lip-service to the thought, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” We post it on Twitter and Facebook, but it needs to be more than just a saying. We have to breathe life into those words by taking action. Let’s look to Nehemiah’s passion to undertake the restoration and reformation of Jerusalem as a blueprint for how we can restore and reform America. Nehemiah was successful in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem because he didn’t just pray. Nehemiah made prayer a habit.