Rise Up and Build Blog Post: More than Walls – guest post for Lads to Leaders entry

Some people like the King James Version. Some like the NKJV or the ESV. For standard Bible reading, I usually don’t have a strong preference which version of scripture I’m reading, as long as it’s an actual translation…

*side eye at the Message*

Usually, I’ll end up reading an NIV, one of the translations most used today. While looking at our theme verse for this year, I noticed something interesting: only the NIV, of the versions I mentioned, uses the word rebuild in our theme verses Nehemiah 2:17-18:

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

Other versions simply say “let us rise up and build rather than “start rebuilding” – and I think that’s an important comparison to explore. It lends an interesting light to these verses, and to the point of Nehemiah’s story: building Jerusalem up again better than before – with God.

While our theme for this year’s convention is ‘rise up and build,’ what Nehemiah was leading the Israelites in doing looked to be rebuilding. The walls of Jerusalem had long been destroyed, but with the king (and the King) supporting him, Nehemiah determined to take away the shame his people continually suffered by building them up again. So it seems strange that only the NIV, out of the handful of popular translations I picked, uses the word rebuilding. That’s what they were doing, after all…right?

Well, in Nehemiah 2:3, Nehemiah asks the king, “Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” In building the walls again, Nehemiah and the Israelites were able to restore their people’s honor – no longer did the Israelites have to withstand ridicule because their city was nothing but the tattered remains of their nation’s legacy. The Hebrews were a shattered nation. Thematically, these verses speak of building more than walls. In building the walls, Nehemiah restored their spirit.

Nehemiah had to rebuild not only the walls, but the nation – a much larger challenge. It was about rebuilding the people. Once the walls were built and the defenses set, from Nehemiah 7:5 onwards he focused on doing just that. But Nehemiah didn’t truly rebuild the people, because he did not build them up again in the same form as they were before, just as he did not build brick for brick the same wall as was there before.

Previously, Israel was not focused on God, and was therefore struck down by Babylon. In Nehemiah 8:1-8, Nehemiah gathers “the men and the women and those who could understand” and reads the Book of the Law of Moses to them “from early morning until midday.” To build the nation of Israel again, Nehemiah built from the ground up, on what should have been their foundation the whole time – God.

The walls they built would someday be destroyed again. But the people remained, and though Nehemiah wasn’t there to see if they would ultimately keep themselves built upon God when he was gone, the work he did left a lasting impact. We don’t often physically build things for God in the same magnitude that Nehemiah built the wall, but we too can make that impact building other people up and encouraging them.

Our theme for Lads to Leaders this year is rise up and build – not rise up and rebuild. Don’t build up again in the same old way if the old way wasn’t focused on God. In the case of the Israelites, that’s why it failed! I like that the theme uses the word build – it’s interesting to think about the implications of words; how rebuilding something means to build the same thing again in the same manner, while Nehemiah built the walls and the people up in a new way – the right way, around God. Whether we are building or rebuilding in our service to God, physical or purely spiritual, we need to remember to build in the same way as Nehemiah – with God as our foundation.

One thought on “Rise Up and Build Blog Post: More than Walls – guest post for Lads to Leaders entry

  1. anetintime January 11, 2023 at 9:33 pm Reply

    I found that to be well written and thought provoking. thank you. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: