Satan is like a “roaring lion, [who] walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Therefore, all of us should be in the business of creating a life that will thwart the efforts of Satan to destroy us.
NEHEMIAH AND THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
Like the Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah, we must all be committed to an effort to find and repair the gaps in our own spirituality through which Satan might enter our lives and devour our hope and our happiness.
This need to build and repair is serious. Lucifer is much more dangerous than a Lion: he is a satanic shape-changer, a being less solid than swamp gas. Let him find a crack and squeeze through, looking for a victim.
The book of Nehemiah teaches us an important lesson about how to secure our personal lives against Lucifer’s invasive intentions.
When the Israelites were allowed to return to Judah from their captivity, they found their beloved Jerusalem destroyed. Under the leadership of Nehemiah the people gathered to rebuild the wall and gates of the city. Their enemies thought the prospect was ludicrous. One said, Will they revive stones out of the heaps of rubbish?’ Another added, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.’ (Neh. 4:2,3)
But the wall went up quickly, for “the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6) and they knew that without it, they could not be safe.
Their plan was simple and effective: Nehemiah wrote, “We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against [our enemies]” (Nehemiah 4:9), and then went to work to make the walls and gates safe.
SAY A PRAYER, SET A WATCH, GO TO WORK
That is what we must do. In a world spiraling into iniquity, where evil “lieth in wait at every corner” (Proverbs 7:12), we must pray, set a watch against encroaching evil, and go to work, strengthening the walls of our lives.
When the enemies of Israel discovered that the wall of Jerusalem was not only being erected successfully, but that it was sturdy and not likely to be destroyed by a passing fox, they began to worry. They conspired to prevent the work in Jerusalem from being completed.
They came to Nehemiah and invited him to descend from the walls and meet with them in a nearby village. Their intent however was not to discuss, but to destroy. They did not want Jerusalem to be fortified and safe. “They thought to do me mischief,” Nehemiah tells us. Devils and lions are always intent on mischief.
Nehemiah responded to them in the way that we must respond when we are being enticed to ignore our duties–to engage in activities that will weaken our resistance to evil, and create or broaden breaches in the walls of our righteousness:
DON’T COME DOWN
“And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:2-3)
Lucifer has in mind to do us a mischief. His goal is to deprive us of joy, for “He seeketh that all men might be miserable” (2 Nephi 2:18, 27, Book of Mormon).
We must, like Nehemiah, labor to build and then to strengthen the walls of our obedience and righteousness, and resist the efforts of the world to draw us away from our duty and our discipleship.
We cannot take the chance of missing an opportunity to worship because on a particular Sunday, attending church happens to be inconvenient. We cannot miss an opportunity to serve because of financial reverses or a lack of faith. We cannot lower our standards because some major media event is so well-accepted by the masses. Any of these events would be akin to coming down from the walls where we are working in order to go to a place where lions wait or someone hopes to do us a mischief.
All of us know people who have ignored or created breaches in the walls of their faithfulness-people who have laid down the trowel and the turned away from the hoist, leaving portions of their lives exposed to danger, in order to come down and engage in unproductive, even destructive activities, almost as though they were unaware of that lion with his sharp teeth.
As we devote ourselves to the work on the walls of our lives, and as we refuse to come down, the Lord will assist us.
In the first chapter of Job, Satan complained that he was not having any success against Job. He said to God, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (Job 1:10) As we close up the breaches and strengthen the walls of our lives, the Lord will build a hedge around us. That hedge will be unbreachable, made formidable by the power of our faith and the reality of the Lord’s protecting power around us.