Tuesday, 22 January 2008 05:10

Profitable Reflection on Ruins [2]

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We continue this week with our theme of Profitable Reflection on Ruins on Nehemiah 2:11-20 which tells us about Nehemiah checking out, during the night, the sad and broken down condition of the city walls in ruins with its burned and broken gates. We mentioned last time how it is profitable before any rebuilding project to take stock of things as they really are. Applying this spiritually, the emphasis was on how profitable it can be, and is, to take stock of and come to conviction about our sins and sinfulness by nature. Truly rebuilding our lives in faith and repentance and devotion to Christ Jesus the Saviour doesnt happen without realizing, once and repeatedly, something of our great need as guilty depraved sinners before God. Now we want to look again at the same Scripture passage and notice yet two more points about profitable reflection on ruins. I would encourage you, if possible, to have your Bible open to this chapter.

From this Scripture, notice with me that Nehemiah did not only point out the ruins but also the Redeemer and Re-builder as revealed in their covenant faithful God, ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. These verses make clear Nehemiah knew God would be with them, and God was calling them to this work of rebuilding the walls. He says the good hand of God was upon him in the kings acceptance and provision for his trip to Jerusalem [vs. 8], confesses that God had put in his heart this rebuilding project [vs.12], testifies to the good hand of God upon him in this project [vs. 18], and states boldly, even to the enemies of the people of God and their ways, The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build.[vs. 20]. The way things were in Jerusalem, being in ruins still, was not the way God willed it to be and God made provision that it might change and be otherwise, sending also Nehemiah at this time to help them in their needs and out of their ruins.

Again, applying this spiritually and in view of Christ Jesus the Saviour of sinners, is it not so, dear friends, that in the New Testament age we may know far more, and better even than Nehemiah and the people of his day, that God promises His good hand upon us in and through Jesus Christ, even as you and I repent of sin and trust and follow Him? The book of Nehemiah is another book in view of and in preparation for Christs coming in the fullness of time to save His people from their sins, and ultimately the whole book testifies of Him, as Jesus says all of Holy Scripture does [see John 5:39; Luke 24:27]. All conviction of sin that God would have us know and realize is for the gospel reason that we might look to Him and find our salvation in Him, the God of our salvation through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the once crucified and now ever living Saviour of sinners! Even in the role of Nehemiah we need to see a foreshadowing of the far greater and better and ultimate Re-builder of broken down ruined lives, namely in the Person and work of Jesus Christ the Saviour. God does not will us to live in the ruin and rubble of sin and sinful ways, but He will lead us in pleasant paths and in the way everlasting under His blessing and favor. So the gospel call is to confess our sins and to turn from all sin and ever to trust Christ the Saviour and live for Him and His glory. Will you do so? And will you, by Gods grace, shine out for the Lord and His praise in your thoughts, words, and ways or will you remain in the pathway of sin and this world?

Will you be awakened and revived in this good way, this gospel way, maybe as a confessing Christian already or else as one who never has become a true believer? In promotion of such profitable reflection on ruins I would like to lead you now to some other places and times of private reflection on the ruins of sin and need for change as given in the Bible. Yes, let me point you to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane for more profitable reflection on the ruins of sin. For Jesus too it was nighttime, and He was more or less all alone in that Garden when the full ruin of sin and the horrible judgment of God for all sin was shown to Him. Jesus Himself never once sinned but He came to be the Saviour of sinners and this meant for Him carrying all the punishment of sin and the burden of Gods righteous wrath against sin in the sinners place for all His people. This meant, for Jesus, also meeting head on with Satan, the arch enemy of God and His people and dealing with him once for all. Can you picture Jesus there in that garden, prostrate on His face under the agony of the sufferings He encountered, and with the battle He endured triumphantly, even though He literally sweat blood doing so. Do you see with this picture how horrible and terrible sin truly is, that Jesus had to suffer so infinitely much to bring deliverance from sin? But also, how much God truly seeks for the salvation of sinners, giving up His own Son, and Jesus giving up Himself unto death in the place of sinners, even the death of the cross in love and mercy for sinners like us?

For the best and most profitable reflection on the ruins of sin, we need to go to Golgotha itself, known as the place of a skull. See Jesus, God Himself come in the flesh, crucified between two thieves, hanging and suffering there as one cursed of God and men, all in the sinners place, as the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God as Peter says in I Peter 3:18. Indeed, let me bring you into the private scene in the midnight darkness of the midday of Jesus crucifixion when He also cried out from the cross those heartrending, never fully explainable words, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? and that word of physical torment, I thirst. Come close now, my friend, and observe in Christ on the cross both the awful ruin of sin but also the awesome remedy from sin, and will you too not rise up and repent and rebuild your life on the rock of Jesus Christ and, by His grace, live your whole life to His praise and honour?

You know the rebuilding project in Nehemiahs time was in view of Christ the Lord really, the Mediator of the covenant of grace and the great promised Messiah Himself. This surely is what guided Nehemiah in his role. But we read sadly in the New Testament how the Jews in Jesus day, and many Gentiles too, would not believe nor receive Jesus Christ as the promised Redeemer and the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, and rejecting the Christ we are told, are we not, how the city of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. met with terrible destruction once again, this time under the hand of the Romans. The point is there is no actual rebuilding of our lives for good and for eternity outside of looking to Christ and calling on Him and ever trusting and following after Him. Even Nehemiah in his day could not permanently revive and transform the lives of the people in his time, but Christ the Lord can and does! He delivers from the depths of ruin and leads His people into the heights of glory. In the name of God, I urge and call you to be found in Christ and to be wholeheartedly following after Him and His Word, for only in that way can you truly prosper. The God of heaven prospers His people who trust and obey Christ as Saviour and Lord, but all who will not do so remain enemies of God and continue under His righteous condemnation and, if there is no change, everlasting judgment.

But the purpose now of this profitable reflection on ruins, the ruins of sin, is that you will not follow the pathway that leads to destruction but seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near, and that all confessing Christians will live wholly to Gods praise and honour and not allow nor excuse this sin and that inconsistency, whatever it might be and however little it may seem to be. Gods true people are convicted and sorry even for sinful thoughts just, never mind also sinful words and deeds of any kind against any of the commandments.

I want to close with bringing you yet to one more private example of reflection also surely on the ruins of sin and looking to the Lord for remedy from all sin. I am thinking of the Apostle John on the isle of Patmos. He was in the Spirit on the Lords day [Revelation 1:10], that is, meditating and reflecting on the truths of the gospel and the cause of Gods church and kingdom in his time. This reflection no doubt included thinking about the devastation of sin and the deliverance of God through His Son, and being devoted to Gods church and kingdom still, even if it would cost him his life. Johns reflection proved so profitable, for what happened as he privately was meditating on these things? God gave Him, by His Spirit, the visions and message of Revelation. And what is that book all about in a nutshell? It is about the glorious triumph of Gods church and kingdom through Jesus Christ, the far greater than Nehemiah, and about the certain defeat and downfall of all those who will not submit to the Lord but continue in their own ways! Revelation, the last book in the Bible, serves as a great encouragement in Gods ways as it tells about the Great Builder of the heavenly Jerusalem and of all its true and eternal citizens, those washed from all their sins in the blood of the Lamb and made whiter than snow in and through Him, and who persevered in the faith in and through the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Profitable reflection on ruins is that kind of reflection that Nehemiah gave, touring the rubble of Jerusalem, seeing the sin that brought it on, seeking the Saviour for deliverance from it all, and rallying the troops in Gods Name to rise up and rebuild to Gods praise and honor. Will you now, in response, personally have profitable reflection on ruins as we live still in this world of so much sin and misery, and have to deal with such ourselves too? Oh Lord, prosper us so indeed, for Jesus sake, and let us not be lukewarm, no Lord, whatever it takes, let us not be lukewarm! Rather, let Thy good hand be upon us, leading us each and all to testify in spirit and in truth, Let us rise up and build yes, in and through our Triune God as revealed in Christ Jesus, the gracious, glorious, great Redeemer and Re-builder of broken down lives, that otherwise are only headed for eternal destruction. As Nehemiah promised for all who trust the Lord, in view of the crucified and risen and exalted Saviour in heaven now, Gods people today may say by grace through faith in the Saviour, even with greater confidence than Nehemiah long ago, The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build. Amen.

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