repeat what we have said in other connections, that we
are not writing even an abbreviated biography of the case
on hand, nor are we engaging in an exposition of the book
bearing his name. Everything is concentrated in the one
matter of leadership. There are plenty of other things of
importance connected with these men, but we are only
concerned with this one factor in these brief messages.
necessary, however, to remember the time and occasion
which brought Nehemiah into his great calling. It was the
The former glory was lost
and Babylon had devastated people and land and desolation
reigned. If Assyria and Babylon represent the power of
this world, then, because the people of God had flirted
with the gods of this world, the world had been allowed
by God to destroy the power of the (once) holy people.
Babylon stands for confusion, and the descent from the
high spiritual place in which God had placed them, down
to an “earth-touch”, brought the Lord’s
people into the grip of a confusion which rendered them
helpless and ashamed. Confusion ruled, and where there is
confusion ruling, weakness and frustration prevail. The
time of this condition was made sufficient — not
less not more — to leave those concerned in no doubt
whatever that it is a fatal thing to heavenly testimony
to descend in spirit to this earth and its ways, even
religiously. But having indelibly written the fact in the
history of His people, the time had arrived when
God was moving for recovery
this work of recovery leadership was necessary, and
Nehemiah was God’s man for the occasion.
noted the time and occasion, we have next to take note of
the significance of this movement of God.
Babylon represents the confusion which is ever
characteristic of this world — and let it be clearly
understood that the mark of the curse that was
once imposed upon this earth by God because man chose
another god, is ever and always confusion in the peoples
and nations of this earth — then God’s recovery
movement will be for the restoration of distinctiveness.
It is not necessary to say that, in every way, Israel was
constituted by God a distinct and different race and
people. It is a fundamental truth that the people of God
are distinct from all others and with God this is a
matter of the most serious account. Seventy years of
exile and captivity, with all the unspeakable sufferings
and distresses are ample evidence of God’s serious
regard for this basic thing.
wall of Jerusalem symbolically represented a boundary
marking a within and a without, and the gates were the
emphasis upon that feature. This feature is definitely
referred to in relation to the other great symbolic city,
the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21. The gates represent
the councils and judgments which determine the acceptable
and admissable and otherwise. They are the strength of
right judgment. The wall is the symbol of a distinctive
testimony to God in the nations and before heaven. The
breaking down of the wall then and the burning of the
gates, signified the ruin of distinctive testimony on the
part of God’s people. This, the significance of
Nehemiah and his leadership was that God was on the move
to recover that distinctiveness of testimony which was,
and is, the only reason and justification for the
existence and continuance of God’s people.
Nehemiah and the wall are identical in meaning, and
leadership as represented by him, is related to this
matter of God’s jealousy. The book which bears his
name cannot be read without recognition of the fact that
God’s jealousy had been generated in the heart of
this man. Nehemiah was not the man to tolerate mixture
and inconsistent elements. In this he was truly like his
heavenly Lord. Compromise was intolerable to Nehemiah.
wall declares in no uncertain language that this thing is
of God. Nothing which is not of God has any place here.
Read the book again in this light alone, and its message
thing which speaks of the significance of the wall and
Nehemiah is divine fulness.
in the thought of God, has always carried this symbolic
meaning. It was the place of the abundance of God. In its
prime it swarmed with people who regarded it to be the
greatest honour and privilege to be its citizens (see
Psalm 87). The nations brought their wealth into it. The
day of Pentecost found Jerusalem crammed and crowded with
“men out of every nation under heaven”.
meant by God to be a type of the heavenly
Jerusalem — the church. And this city, this church
— the body of Christ — is said to be “the
fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23).
never did believe in vacuums. He always believed in
fulness. It is His nature and His desire, and He always
works toward divine fulness. How much we could bring in
here to support this statement! But, alas, in the time of
which we are thinking, Jerusalem was empty and desolate,
“without form, and void”; a vacuum indeed! So,
leadership, as represented by Nehemiah related to divine
fulness to be recovered in and for the people of God.
interject here a word regarding this condition to-day.
The spiritual meagreness, smallness, poverty, and
consequent weakness of very many of God’s people is
a crying tragedy to-day. For years we have been appealed
to by Christians in many places. “We have so
little spiritual food in our churches”, they say.
There are so many really hungry children of God.
this condition to be laid at the door of those who are
ostensibly leaders? Let it be said at once that, whatever
other purposes require leadership, this one of spiritual
fulness is by no means the least. To fail here is to fail
in a matter which is of the very nature and heart of God.
Men of God, are the people for whom you are responsible
in the way of “the fulness of Christ”? Look
again at Nehemiah and recognize that the fire in his
bones was the fire of God’s concern for His fulness
to be available again to His people, and to be
characteristic of them. While we speak to the leaders or
responsible men, let us say to the people also that it is
positively God’s will that you should carry with you
the impression above all others that you are wealthy and
richly endowed people, that your God is a God of
abundance. Be sure that you are availing yourselves of
all that is available, and neither neglecting nor
despising heavenly food.
look again at Nehemiah, another thing should impress us.
It is that if we are really in line with that which God
is doing at any given time and our hearts are aflame with
His own immediate concern, there will be sovereign
support given and provision made. To find that support we
must be on God’s positive line of
distinctiveness and fulness as a testimony to Himself.
The question of support is a very acute one in organized
Christianity, leading to an endless variety of
expedients. Surely, if heaven rules and has all
resources, and really wants something, heaven will meet
its demands and requirements. Can we not expect and
believe for this aspect of Nehemiah’s leadership?
work of God is kept in His hands and is not allowed to
become earthbound it will have heaven’s support,
and, while there will be opposition enough, it will be
“finished” in triumph. It is the spiritual
life of the Lord’s people, the heavenly Israel which
is the demand for such leadership as that represented by
Nehemiah. It may not appeal to all, but only to a “remnant”,
but with them will be found the satisfaction of
satisfying God in the thing nearest to His heart.
Nehemiah as an example of this needed leadership we have:
man with a heartbreak over conditions.
man with the vision of God’s specific desire and
man with spiritual initiative governed by instant and
meticulous touch with God.
man endowed with true spiritual discretion.
man without compromise, who will not put policy before
principle; a man full of holy courage.
man free from personal interests in the work of God.
man gifted with spiritual discernment.
raise up such men for this needy hour.