Recently I read about Nehemiah leading the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem after its destruction by the Babylonians. He faced all sorts of opposition, driving him and those who were with him to work at building the wall with a tool in one hand and a sword in the other. (Nehemiah 1-6)
“So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. At the same time I also said to the people, “Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day.” So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.”
Nehemiah 4:21-23 NKJV
Despite intense opposition, the wall around the entire city was up in less than two months. Archaeologists in the late 90’s found sections of this wall that were at least twenty-three feet thick! This was a serious fortification.
Why was Nehemiah so concerned about getting the wall up? Why did the people work with such a fervor? Why were they so fiercely opposed?
The wall was their first line of defense.
Yes, the buildings were in ruins. Even the temple, where they met with God, was in disrepair. But they made their first line of defense their top priority.
What is your first line of defense? Have you ever thought about what your outer wall is? How is it that the devil most often has gotten you to stumble?
We’re all humans who are tempted of our own lust and sinful nature, but I’ve been surprised already at how unique those temptations really can be. If I spend all my time building up a wall against loud, expensive trucks that draw attention away from God, sure, I’ve built a good wall, but that temptation is not my outer wall. It’s not where the enemy first attacks me.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
James 1:13-15 NKJV
For some that outer wall has to do with food; for others, relationships; for others, pornography; for some, sex; for some, money. If we take just a moment of reflection, it shouldn’t be that difficult to know what our outer wall is.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
I John 2:16 NKJV
Another interesting facet to this outer wall is that it may change as the person changes. What I fight against in my thirties may be quite different from what I fought against in my teens. Our building, our city, our heart is a living and moving complexity. The walls around it shift and move as the person grows and changes.
But the enemy doesn’t change.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
I Peter 5:8 NKJV
He will still harass you continually, looking for any way to breach that first line of defense. For he knows once he’s found a foothold, once he’s gotten inside the wall, the fight to the heart of the city is much more easily won.
So arm yourself. Be prepared to fight. But also be constantly building and repairing that outer wall, shoring up any weak places through prayer, Scripture, and accountability to the brotherhood. Quit ye like men—be strong!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”
Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV