The issue of border walls is certainly an ongoing political topic in our country these days. Some are in favor of a border wall along our southern border, while others see such a wall as immoral. Some politicians are wanting to build many more miles of a wall, while others to tear down the walls that have already been constructed. No matter which side of this debate you are on, you might be interested to know that opposition to building or rebuilding a wall is nothing new. In the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read about the reconstruction of a wall that has been damaged.
We are introduced to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. when he was serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. I’ve always enjoyed the story of Nehemiah. One of the first books I read as a new believer in the early 1980’s was Charles Swindoll’s Hand Me Another Brick, which was about Nehemiah’s leadership.
After 70 years in exile, some of the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, as we read about in the book of Ezra. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates destroyed by fire more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah mourns and prays to God. He then asks permission of King Artaxerxes to go to Judah to rebuild the walls, which the king grants. When Nehemiah arrives, he inspects the walls around Jerusalem, devises a plan to rebuild, and rallies the people of Judah to do the work. He tells the jeering Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab that the God of heaven will make them prosper in the work (Nehemiah 2:20).
In chapter 3 of Nehemiah the work rebuilding the wall begins. However, in chapter 4, we read about the opposition to the work. This results in Nehemiah using his leadership skills to use half the people for building, while the other half kept watch for an attack. Later, in chapter 6 we read about a conspiracy that the enemies brought against Nehemiah. Despite the opposition of his enemies, under Nehemiah’s leadership, the wall was finished in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15).
In his book Learning Leadership from Nehemiah, Dave Kraft tells us that Nehemiah receives a vision from God and then he casts the vision, recruits the vision and works tirelessly to insure the vision happens. Kraft states that Nehemiah exemplifies all the best in leadership. He is bold, courageous, confrontational (when it’s called for), and persistent in sticking with what he feels led to do. In his estimation, the book of Nehemiah is the best book of the Bible to study and learn exemplary leadership.
Were you familiar with Nehemiah and his leadership that led to the rebuilding of the wall? I pattern my leadership, servant leadership, after Jesus, who said that even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). Other than Jesus and Nehemiah, who else can we learn good leadership practices from in the Bible?