It is a tragic thing to watch a nation digress. The youngest of those who live in our nation today cannot possibly remember anything different. But many of us can. We remember a nation, not long ago, where …
- Every day in public school we began with prayer, asking God’s help and protection on our day.
- Television had no profanity (none), no sexual perversion, no nakedness; and what was promoted was wholesome, family entertainment.
- Political leaders disagreed, but they disagreed agreeably. There was a level of civility that is now a distant memory.
- The church had great respect from all levels of society and was making rapid advances.
- The things of God were not scoffed at, ridiculed, or mocked.
- Sunday and Wednesday nights were universally reserved for church activities.
- Even non-believers understood the helpful role of spiritual life in the nation and in their communities.
- The immoralities that are common and defended today were not even mentioned.
- The needs of others were seen as more important than selfish needs.
These days were not perfect, or even spiritual, at times. Those of us from that era have much to repent of … and there are many things we see now that were terribly wrong. But there was a general morality, based on Judeo/Christian truth.
There was much that contributed to the fall we’ve witnessed. But the erosion has been dramatic. The last few years have seen this decline increase exponentially.
The next step for a nation in our condition is God lifting His hand of blessing and protection, leading to the final step of anarchy, which always ensues when a nation forsakes God and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
Nehemiah watched a similar digression. His people had disobeyed God, and God had given them up to their enemies. This was intended to bring them to the end of themselves, and to such desperation that they would return to Him.
Nehemiah realized the situation of his nation when he sought a report from his brother who had returned to Babylon from their hometown of Jerusalem.
Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:1-4 NASB).
There are four responses we can make when we realize the walls are down and the gates are burned with fire.
- Gradual Assimilation
If spiritual apathy exists, this will happen without our realization. Like the frog in the proverbial kettle, we can gradually adjust our morals so that godlessness is a part of our lifestyle and doesn’t really disturb us anymore.
- Hopeless Resignation
We can be disturbed, but just throw up our hands and offer no resistance.
- Frantic Humanism
We can rush around, vainly trying every human option to stem the tide of the Enemy’s assault. This can make a big noise, but in the end will produce little substantive change.
- Spiritual Repentance
Nehemiah chose this response. His appeal was to the God who is above the nations and rules over all. He fasted and prayed, and then immediately obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the directives of His Word.
Read Nehemiah 1 and understand the depth and perseverance of Nehemiah’s continual cry to God. See his surrender—even at the risk of death—to lead in spiritual renewal.
In the end, his response led to one of the greatest nationwide revivals in the history of the world (see Nehemiah 8–9).
Nehemiah knew that only God could stem the tide and reverse the decay. Only God could mercifully forgive and return His glory to the land. Only God. Only God.
As you survey the land today, what do you suppose this is a time to do?
Father, forgive us, cleanse us, heal our land! The walls are broken down and the gates are burned with fire. Help us, like Nehemiah, to turn to the only One who can bring revival and spiritual awakening. Create a humble, contrite heart in us that will respond to You in fasting, prayer, and repentant obedience.