The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. – Nehemiah 1:1-3
Nehemiah was going about his daily routine as the cupbearer (more on that here) in the house of the king of Persia, when some of his Jewish brethren, including his brother Hanani, came to him with news from their homeland. And that news was not good at all. The Temple had been rebuilt but the city was lying waste and all the Jews who had returned there were mocked continually by the surrounding nations and were in horrible danger because the city of Jerusalem had no defense.
The spiritual lesson we must learn from this opening is that we are never truly safe in this old world. The Jews had been freed but the Lord’s people have enemies everywhere. They had returned to their home and tried to start worship again, but they were in continual danger of losing it all again.
We too have been set free by the finished work of Jesus Christ, but there is a battle that still remains. The Bible does not promise prosperity in this world simply because we follow Christ. We must guard our hearts and minds against the enemies of God. We need to see that there may be destruction lying at the door, and be prepared to rebuild that part of our lives. Our salvation is secure in the Lord but our ability to live in that liberty is jeopardy if we do not stand ready to build and battle every day.