The Need for Repairing the Wall
So we look first of all at the wall in brokenness. Here it is: "Then said In unto them, Ye see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach" (Nehemiah 2:17). The last word touches the spot, does it not? See the great enemy of God, of Christ, of the testimony of our Lord, having it as his one abiding object to bring reproach upon the Name of the Lord - anyhow, by any means, whether by direct assault or by subtle underworking; somehow to bring the Lord's Name and testimony into reproach. "That we be no more a reproach." What a motive to govern the people of God, to save the Lord and His people from the reproach of this broken-down condition!
Idolatry the Cause of the Broken-down Condition
We must, before we can move to the recovery, examine and trace the fundamental and ultimate reason for this state of things. We are taking our cue from the illustration in this book and in the other books leading up to it. There is one word that goes to the root of the whole matter, and that word is idolatry.
Is it not very impressive to recognize that, because of the idolatry in Israel, the nation was sent to the very heart of idolatry to be cured of it? Babylon was the world center of idolatry - you know that from the great images set up. Now Israel had allowed idolatry in her midst, and the Lord sent her to the world center of idolatry to be cured of idolatry. I say that it is impressive, and it just means that: that sometimes the Lord's way of curing is to give an overdose of the thing with which we flirt. They hankered and they flirted. The prophets cried, pleaded, wept, appealed, agonized, that the people would break with this thing, cease their flirtations with the gods of the heathen nations around about them; but they would not; they were wedded. 'All right,' said the Lord; 'have what you are after - have it to the full': and indeed they had it to the full, and it cured Israel of idolatry in that form for the rest of their history. I am not saying that it cured them of the spirit of idolatry; we shall see that later. But that form of open complicity with the power of evil was destroyed by their being given that upon which their heats were set.
Here is the extreme instance of the working of a certain law. The Palmist said about Israel in the wilderness: "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalm 106:15). They refused to let go. They would have; they said 'yes' in the face of God's 'no'. 'We will have.' 'All right,' said the Lord - and they were the losers in their getting.
Now that principle does work, you know, and I am not so sure that it is not working today. In the Church, in Christianity, the world has found its place. The Church of God went out to the world and brought the world in. There has been complicity with the spirit of this world, it has found a large place in Christianity; and while it is not my desire to speak in this way, we must be very faithful. Perhaps all unperceived, all unrecognized - God grant that it is so - even in evangelical Christianity, there is a good deal of worldly principle, the bringing in of unspiritual things - names, titles, resources and what not, to do the work of God. There is a hidden complicity to get favor, to get advantage; there is behind all that another spirit - the spirit of idolatry - which is getting a grip upon the Lord's people. Very well: what has happened? The Lord has let the Church have what it wants, and today it is feeling that it has lost its power, lost its position, because the world has too much of a place. In its gaining it has lost: that is very serious, is it not?
(continued with # 9)