Ode-to-walls

This may sound strange, but I find walls extremely interesting.

World-famous walls mostly. In school, I was taught how such walls played or are playing an important role in moulding a nation’s history. Think of the Great Wall of China … or even the wall Trump is trying to build now.

There’s also the Berlin Wall, the DMZ (a wall of sorts), and the Israeli West Bank barrier which function as physical barriers to keep out enemies who would harm the people on the other side.

Walls tell us so much about a nation’s history and heritage: Why a country would draw such a line with another, or what some had to do to protect their self-interests. There are many walls in the world, each with their story to tell.

But my favourite wall of all is found in the book of Nehemiah.

The Bible records that Nehemiah, cup-bearer to the king of Persia at that time, was deeply troubled when he saw that the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed.

That meant that Israel was left vulnerable to attacks from the Horonites and the Ammonites — those who surrounded Israel at that time. So Nehemiah took his leave from the king of Persia to head back to Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 

The walls of Jerusalem had stood for more than just protection for its inhabitants from their surrounding enemies at that time (Nehemiah 4:1-3). They also served as a boundary that separated God’s chosen people from the pagan culture that was influencing the Israelites.

At that time, a lot of intermarriages were happening (Nehemiah 13:23-27) which caused the people of Israel to turn their backs towards God.

Is it wrong to build walls around yourself?

What would Nehemiah’s story look like in our modern-day Singapore context?

Well, we most likely won’t find ourselves engaged in a national wall building project as physical protection against our enemies; we have other forms of deterrence.

No, we need a different kind of wall. There are walls like building up our self-control (Proverbs 25:28), and there are walls like spiritual protection from God (Zechariah 2:5).

What is true is that building up these spiritual walls in our life will not be easy, but we need them.

When we live without spiritual walls to guard us, the enemy comes unopposed.

Nehemiah and the Israelites faced a lot of opposition while building the walls of Jerusalem.

From death threats (Nehemiah 4:11) to a conspiracy theory (Nehemiah 6:6), their safety was so compromised without walls that they had to keep their swords at hand at all times for safety (Nehemiah 4:23).

When we live without spiritual walls to guard us, the enemy comes unopposed. A frequent raider, he would come pounding on our beat-up gates — barely hanging by their hinges — taunting us to come back to our old and sinful ways. 

Is that really how we want to live? Just as Nehemiah and the Israelites kept their sword at hand, we must keep our swords – the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) – at hand. We need to keep it close to our hearts and meditate on it day and night, allowing Him to speak to us through His word.

In the face of opposition, we ought to adopt the same posture of prayer that Nehemiah had (Nehemiah 4:1-3). For when we commit this building project of ours to the Lord, He will complete this good work within us.

When we let God rebuild what He wants to rebuild in our lives, we will have walls that block out all the things we hadn’t noticed were hindering our walk with Him before.

What is the condition of the spiritual walls protecting our hearts today?

And have we been checking the condition of our hearts? What have we allowed into our lives that has caused our walls to disintegrate over time? We cannot let the spiritual walls of our lives lay in ruins. We cannot be defenceless in the face of the enemy.

These are the questions we need to constantly ask ourselves. Giving a free pass to the enemy to walk straight into our “Jerusalem” is a free pass for destruction.

It is time to rebuild. May God put His wall of fire around us. And may that wall burn strong enough to deter any attack from the enemy, and hot enough to refine us within.

About the author

Arel Koh

Arel believes everyone has a story to share. He is also the proud owner of a Spotify playlist called “Wholesome songs arranged in the order of their key” to fuel his passion for meaningful creativity. Do check it out if you are interested!