All Roads Lead To Jesus - Nehemiah
Reading - Nehemiah 2, 2 Peter 2:5-9
Everyone has an answer today for every problem we face. If we want to end abortion, we must make laws. If we want to end racism in the church, we must be more culturally relevant. If we want to fix poverty, we should force people to share what they have. If we want to end pandemics, we must vote for a certain candidate. If we want to fix our marriage, we must read this new 7 step book, attend this seminar, pray this magical prayer, and on and on the list goes. The problem is that we are all fundamentally broken. Even the very best of us are broken beyond repair. We continue to fall for do-it-ourselves initiatives that leave us holding broken pieces.
Each and every time we take the bait, we may experience some success, but ultimately the world is still broken, relationships still run into trouble, and we still hurt. We must learn to pursue good things and fixing broken things by pursuing a perfect Savior and his perfect redemption.
The Babylonian captivity was over. The reports were coming back to Persia. The Jews were returning successfully to Jerusalem. They had already been sent back in two large waves and now a third wave was being prepared.
Nehemiah was a servant in King Artaxerxes’ court. God began to impress upon Nehemiah that he was to help Israel rebuild and so he asked Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem. Artaxerxes made Nehemiah Governor over the whole province and sent him back with letters of support and access to all of the materials he would need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
But it wasn’t going to be easy for Nehemiah. Israel’s enemies had grown used to not having a powerful nation in their midst. The walls of a city in ancient history were a symbol of the nation’s glory and power. Jerusalem had been decimated and it was taking decades to restore the city and the nation. Not only was the city broken down, but the people were fearful and broken. They were home, but it didn’t feel like home. Those surrounding Israel wanted to keep things the way they were – broken. But Nehemiah had been called by God to restore what had been broken down.
There was great opposition to Nehemiah’s efforts, but he continued on. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days. His restoration and recreation efforts did not stop with the wall. He, along with Ezra, led spiritual revivals in Jerusalem. Nehemiah wanted the people of God to be reminded of the joy that they once had in the Lord as His people.
Jesus is the better Nehemiah because Jesus restores in us what is broken, and Jesus is restoring in the world what has been broken by sin. One of the draws of the Gospel is a personal one. Many of us are drawn to the Gospel because we hear that God wants to redeem us and restore our lives. We find hope in the Cross because our sins are forgiven. We find hope in the empty grave of Jesus because we know that his resurrection is the first and that we will one day join him in our own resurrection. We find hope because not only are we forgiven by God, but we now can forgive others with that same kind of forgiveness. We love the gospel because of the personal application. We are sinners, saved by grace, through faith in Christ, and because Jesus has defeated death, we know we will never die. If we are absent from the body, we will be present with Christ. This is often the main focus of the Gospel in our lives. As a result, we sometimes lose the grander narrative of which our personal experience of the Gospel is a part. Jesus not only restores the broken things in our lives, but he is restoring the broken things in this world and this universe.
Just as Nehemiah helped to restore a nation, Jesus is restoring the people of God as a nation. In his letter to the church, Peter said to the church, “You are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God.” Jesus talked about this holy nation throughout his earthly ministry. He called it “the Kingdom of God”. Jesus not only came to restore the broken things in those he met along the way in his ministry, but he also came to bring restoration and reconciliation to the world through the restoration of the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to rebuild the world into a New Jerusalem.
This world is broken, and it will always be broken no matter how long we try to fix it ourselves. We will never end racism, inequality, bigotry, sexual immorality, abuse, addiction, broken relationships, disease or death. As long as there is sin in the world, we will suffer the effects of that brokenness. That is why the Gospel is such good news, not just on a personal level, but on a universal level. Jesus isn’t just restoring people; he is going to restore the world and all of its broken systems. He is going to rebuild the city of God and make all things new.
What that means is that Jesus restores broken things. If we want to pursue good things like ending racism, ending the sex slave-trade, crushing addiction and abuse, healing broken relationships; then we must pursue the Kingdom of God. Why? Because Jesus is restoring broken things not just in our own lives but in the world around us. Jesus is the only sure guarantee that these broken things will be restored.
The fact that Jesus fixes and restores broken things is why the Gospel is so important for all of the issues that we face today. The answer to our problems is not more law and legislation. The answer to our problems lies with the restoration of sinful and broken hearts. When hearts are transformed society will change. When society changes laws will change.
We must pursue good things in this world. We are not called to simply sit by and wait for Jesus to do the work for us. That is why Paul calls us the “ambassadors of reconciliation” in his letter to the Corinthians. We have work to do. Our purpose in that work is not to fix things just for the sake of fixing things. Our purpose and our motivation are the same motivation that Nehemiah had – the joy of the Lord.
If we want to end broken things, we must pursue the only One who is unbroken and be ambassadors of the unbroken Kingdom that He has promised.
Thanks, Dan! Really enjoyed reading this. Appreciate your thoughtful writing. God Bless!
It brought more understanding regarding a message God have given me pertaining to a "Christian Worldview ". Our reception will be based on our perception. The world from a Kingdom View.