|REBUILDING THE WALL OF DIAMOND|
"The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones…" Revelation 21:18-19 (NKJV)
Imagine this wall in heaven that is essentially made of pure and brilliant diamond, with a foundation of other precious stones of various beautiful colors. Just to look at this splendid structure would probably take our breath away. But why will there be a wall in heaven, and what does it represent to us today? A key to answering this question lies in another Scripture in Revelation:
"But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." Revelation 21:27 (NKJV)
The wall speaks to us of a separation from all that is unholy. It also speaks to us of a defense against those who would seek to defeat us in our walk with Christ. Before modern weapons were invented, cities built walls around them for literal protection from their enemies. It took a lot of work to build these walls, and people labored many days just to construct a small portion of them.
The wall mentioned in Revelation is made of precious stones, which have a relationship to that physical labor. These gems were made only after much heat and pressure were applied to them, while they were buried in the earth. Similarly, today it is through Christians who have endured tests and trials that God is seeking to build a wall of purity. These Christians have also been "buried" in the earth – they have been placed here among many others and may not be known except to their family and friends. They are precious jewels who wish to keep themselves pure from the defilement of the world. It may be that now they are unknown, but one day they will shine, even as we read:
"Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3 (NKJV)
However, much of the church today does not realize that God wants us to have a spiritual wall around us; they do not even realize one is necessary. When they hear about separation from the world, they consider that an old-fashioned concept, which does not apply to them. Sadly, they invest more time in their worldly pursuits than in a desire for holiness. Consequently, the wall that once stood tall around Christianity is, perhaps, something one would only stumble over, if it could even be detected today. But God is calling us to rebuild it, just as He called the children of Israel to do after they came out of Babylonian captivity.
Rebuilding the Wall
When the Israelites were finally released from Babylon, they came back to their own country and found it to be in ruins. The temple had to be rebuilt, as did the wall. In America we may have a multitude of church buildings, but perhaps it is also true that our spiritual state is in ruins because we are still captives to Babylon. "Babylon" generally means the manner and spirit of the world, which is the essence of materialism. The literal Hebrew word, however, is "balal" which means "to mingle or confuse", which speaks to us of a mixture of the truth of God with the deceptions of the world.
We have been delivered from Babylon by the Blood of Jesus Christ, but even as not all the Jews left that fair city when they were set free, many of us have chosen not to leave the lifestyle of our current society. There is strength in numbers, and if a majority of Christians think and preach and teach that living in a worldly way is consistent with Biblical teaching, then it becomes quite seductive. Nevertheless, that does not change the truth of the Word:
"Therefore ‘Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.’" 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV)
In his day, Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. However, when he attempted to do so, he was met with great opposition. This came, interestingly, not only from the pagans in the land, but also from those who claimed to be from the priestly line. They had first tried to assist in the rebuilding of the temple under Ezra, but were found not to be legitimate:
"And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not identify their father's house or their genealogy, whether they were of Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and fifty-two; 61 and of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, and the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. 62 These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled." Ezra 2:59-62 (NKJV)
Note that in verse 60 we read "the sons of Tobiah". This meant that Tobiah was also excluded, and we will see in a moment that he became a great enemy of the work. But let us also realize that the genealogy question was a shadow of spiritual genealogy today. There are two classes of people in the world, those spiritually alive (born-again) and those spiritually dead (not saved). We may still draw racial distinctions, but God does not. In fact, there is no difference in race, for the Bible clearly says He has made us from one blood:
"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…" Acts 17:26 (NKJV)
In fact, even in Old Testament times, people could convert, as Ruth the Moabitess did, and became an ancestor to King David. It has never been the literal bloodline, but the spiritual state of a person which distinguishes him or her in God’s eyes.
Tobiah’s True Disposition Revealed
Tobiah was excluded because he was not truly a believer. And the fact that this was discovered as they checked the records has a spiritual lesson for us today. It shows us that there are those who would offer the church help, but their lack of true conversion and purity will actually be used by the enemy to destroy us internally. Tobiah’s true colors surface later, after he is rejected:
"But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?" 20 So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem." Nehemiah 2:19 (NKJV)
The worldly king spoken of here represents the king of this present world, Satan. Nehemiah repeats that these people have no heritage in Jerusalem, and with God’s help, the wall is miraculously completed in an amazing fifty-two days. These enemies are then disheartened, because they realize that God is helping Israel:
"And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God." Nehemiah 6:16 (NKJV)
However, the enemies are resilient, and the next tactic is to find one of God’s people who will cooperate with them, and allow them entrance to the city. This evidently was not as difficult as we might think, for while Nehemiah is away on business, Tobiah makes inroads with a priest, and is even allowed to take up residence at the temple.
"Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. 5 And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests…" Nehemiah 13:4 (NKJV)
Nehemiah, now back in Jerusalem, is shocked and grieved to find out that while he was gone Eliashib the priest has given Tobiah entrance to the temple area, and has even allowed him to live there! What could this speak to us of except the enemy dwelling in the church and influencing what takes place, allowed in by a minister who is a believer with authority, but who has virtually no discernment? Nehemiah, however, is no shrinking violet. God has put steel in his backbone, and he immediately takes care of business.
"And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9 Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense." Nehemiah 13:8-9 (NKJV)
Can we not see that opposition to a godly lifestyle will not only come from outside the church, but also from within? We may wonder what would have happened if a godly man such as Nehemiah had not been there to rid Jerusalem of Tobiah. Tobiah’s name in Hebrew means "Jehovah is good". Consequently, it seems that his external appearance and manner was reverent and he appeared to be godly. Perhaps only Nehemiah detected his falsity through spiritual discernment, which was represented by the discovery of his impure genealogy.
Nehemiah Set an Example
Something else was occurring at this time, which is symbolic of our own times. The wealthy Jews were oppressing the people, and forcing them to mortgage their property and sell their children into slavery. Nehemiah dealt with the problem not only with prayer, but with action. He led the people by example by sacrificing his governor’s salary.
We might wonder, how does this relate to the church today? It does to the extent that the church, particularly in America, is in bondage to covetousness. As wealthy Christians spur on others to spend their lives seeking money and prominence rather than holiness, the effect it twofold. First, to support a comfortable lifestyle, many have gone into deep debt, literally mortgaging what they have to buy all they can. Secondly, that debt causes them to spend more time pursuing wealth than God. Their children fall into the same bondage, not only because they are neglected because the parents spend most of their time earning money, but also through the example of greed that they are influenced to emulate.
Mixing With the World
Recently a book was written by some well-known evangelical leaders that advocated Christians join together with other denominations which are known not to preach the true gospel. It urges Christians to accept major denominations which deny the deity of Christ, and one which claims that Mary was co-redemptrix, and was, herself, deity. God is bringing together the true believing church today, and is breaking down denominational barriers, even as He brought the Jews back to Israel to rebuild the temple and the wall. But the denominations He is joining together are those which are washed by the Blood of His Son, only. However, just as the non-believers attempted to infiltrate the ranks of the believers in Nehemiah’s time, we have the same problem today.
We do no favors to deceived religious organizations and denominations by extending fellowship to them when we know they are not born-again. We essentially bring their blood on our own heads by making them believe they are at peace with God when we know otherwise. It is not cruel to exclude them; it is rather God’s method of protecting us, and of showing them that they are lacking in true repentance and salvation. The wall today represents separation from non-believers who use the name "Christian," as well separation from evil associations. There may be some saved people in such denominations, but the beliefs espoused by the leaders are the critical issue.
Keeping Out That Which Defiles
Covetousness and mixing with non-believers are only two of the many things that are defiling the church. The Scriptures tell us in Habbakuk 2:15 and in Leviticus that we are not to uncover another person’s nakedness. However, many Christians today drink in movies with nudity, and seem to think that there is nothing wrong with it. They also watch so-called comedies which mock Christianity. God has something to say about all of this:
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
In the time of their punishment
They shall be cast down," says the Lord. Jeremiah 8:12 (NKJV)
Much of this lack of shame comes from our upbringing. Little girls who are dressed in high skirts are being conditioned to accept this type of behavior. The Scripture clearly teaches us to be modest, and yet the world is seeking to condition us to do the opposite. Women are taught to show off their physical attributes so that every man will lust after them, but the Bible teaches us to do the opposite.
"…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing…" 1Timothy 2:9 (NKJV)
Truthfully, the type of man who is attracted to an immodest woman before marriage is exactly the type who is more likely to be attracted to other immodest women after marriage. Deep down, most of us respect those who are modest, and women in the church who do not dress appropriately become a snare for some men, and a bad example for other women. It seems that Christian men are tempted to compete for fame and fortune and power, and Christian women are tempted to compete for attention.
Television and Its Subversive Power
Much of what God considers an abomination is found on television. The device itself is neither bad nor good, but what is transmitted on it definitely is. The rebuilding of the wall of holiness must be preceded by a tuning out of the world’s abominations found on television. Satan has attempted to set a pattern of behavior by this media, and if Christians continue in bondage to it, their spiritual lives will become more and more defiled as it degenerates to deeper levels of perversion.
The Wall of Purity
God’s rules were not given to us to make us miserable, but to protect us. We seek immediate, worldly joy, and He seeks to give us eternal, spiritual joy. One side of the wall offers the first type of joy, the other side offers the latter. This is not legalism, it is reality. We are not forced to do it, it is all voluntary. As the world grows even darker, a shining, magnificent wall of purity around the church will become stronger and taller, making true Christianity a beacon of light. As this occurs, the world will know that it is a supernatural work of God, even as they did in Nehemiah’s time, when the wall was built in an astounding fifty-two days.
Dedicated believers of that day constructed it, fighting with a sword in one hand, which represents to us today the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God – our defense against the world. With the other hand they laid the stones which speak to us today of the foundation built from the lives of believers who refuse to corrupt themselves and compromise with the immorality of the world. As it was constructed by a physical effort then, it will be rebuilt by a spiritual effort today – and it will separate those who are sincere about their faith from those who are apathetic.
Sacrifice is Required For Its Completion
The rebuilding of the wall takes sacrifice, but it will become a precious wall of diamond if we will make the effort. Most of the opposition may come from within the church, even as Tobiah attempted to thwart Nehemiah at first by seeking to participate in the work, and then by his alliance with a priest. Nevertheless, the wall will be built, even if we do not personally participate. In Nehemiah’s time Babylon was prosperous and when the Jews were allowed to leave not many of them wanted to give up what they had there to return to the ruins of Jerusalem and do the work. Nevertheless, it was still completed, for it was ordained by God. In the spiritual sense, the wall is going up now in the church. The only question is, what side of the wall will we be on?