Psalm 51: 18-19
2 Chronicles 33: 13 (from “And he”) - 14 (to “height”)
Nehemiah 3: 28-30; 7: 4; 12: 40-43
I have an impression of Jerusalem: what has been wrought in recovery. The walls of Jerusalem are generally only mentioned in view of recovery and in view of repair. It is good to see a repenting David speaking about building the walls of Jerusalem; then there shall be the right sacrifices; then there will be what is acceptable to Jehovah. We see how Manasseh, an evil king, prayed to Jehovah his God when he had been taken captive to Babylon. You never hear of Saul praying to Jehovah his God, or speaking about Jehovah his God, but Manasseh prayed to Jehovah his God (2 Chron 33: 12) and God turns his captivity. He returned to Jerusalem and he built the walls of Jerusalem to a great height.
In Nehemiah we get the recovery of a small part of the people to Jerusalem; a large part of the children of Israel remain in Babylon, as in our day, and we feel for them. The position is taken here in all humility; all the failure of the past has been gone over, but that does not deter, and all the attacks of the enemies do not deter. They say: “Even that which they build, if a fox went up, it would break down their stone wall”; ’what are they trying to do?’ But here we find persons working on the repair. Especially today, when we celebrate the setting up of a household, we would like to think of the persons who repair the walls of Jerusalem “every one over against his house”. I was thinking of the importance of our brother and sister having the blessings of Jerusalem before them, not just the Christian life, but thinking of what the Lord has in mind collectively to be enjoyed, and what is collectively to be enjoyed is also to be protected, and needs building up, restoring and repairing. You do not just repair out of a legal sense of duty, but seeing persons repair over against their own house shows that they value their household and seek to protect and preserve it in the light of the assembly. Understanding and maintaining God’s principles is what the wall is all about and that is also needed to protect the household. We need to maintain what is right before God in the midst of all that is against us. It may be good to think about the walls, and go over the history of the testimony, over the failures that have been in localities and persons. All these things are needed to keep us dependent, but all that has happened is not to deter us because the result is that, when they had gone over it all, they all went from the wall to the house of God, and there is exceeding great joy. There is joy for the men, and for the women and for the children. That is the result of building on these things and maintaining them for God, in view of your own house, and in view of all the saints, so that the men and the women and the children rejoice with great rejoicing, and the shout of the joy of Jerusalem goes round about into the land.
How great what God has given to us in these days, what has been opened up and what has been restored. We all should have an active part in this: in maintaining and rebuilding what is for God’s pleasure, so that we can enter the house of God. There is this great joy, and there are these sacrifices that David speaks of, sacrifices of righteousness. There the sacrifices will be accepted by God and there the answer to God can go up: there Zion can be enjoyed. God has chosen it; He says, “This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell”, Psalm 132: 14. That is the side of Jerusalem that is not just practised administratively, but it is what goes up to God in the praises and the worship from the hearts of the saints that have been redeemed, that have been set free and that have come to this wonderful environment, not in any pride. In fact we say, ‘The place is large and the inhabitants are few’. These truths are so wonderful you would wish all to come into the gain of them, and yet “the people in it were few”. You feel that; your heart goes out to everyone. You do not say, ‘Oh, we have made a cosy place for ourselves’, but you say, ‘Alas, the place is large and the inhabitants are few’. These truths are wonderful, they are great for everyone to enter into, but the inhabitants are few. We have to accept these things in our day, but may they not discourage us, and may our young brother and sister work on these things in view of maintaining them that they may be in the gain of the heavenly inheritance which is the great Christian blessing that God has in mind for us.
This does not only apply to households. You say, ’Well, we are always celebrating the household and the value of it’, but I would just lastly refer to this one man, Meshullam, whose name means the ‘friend‘, or the ‘reconciled‘ one, who is “the son of Berechiah”, which means ‘blessed of Jehovah‘, who repairs “over against his chamber”. That may be an unmarried person, a widower, or someone who left all his relatives in Babylon. He has his own chamber in Jerusalem. He has decided for himself, ‘I am going to live there, and work out maintaining these truths’. So this involves everyone: the households, the single persons, the widows, the widowers; everyone is involved in it. You may have your chamber in Jerusalem, just on your own, but you are in this collective blessing, you are in the greatness of God’s thoughts. And the end in view is not just going over all the sad things of the past but “they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy; and also the women and the children rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off”. May that mark this day, may that mark the lives of our brother and sister, and may that encourage all of us in view of the wonderful truth that God has given us, the wonderful enjoyment that He has opened up, the large place. May we have everyone in mind to bring them into this great enjoyment.
For His Name’s sake.
13th April 2013