I have always been shy, reserved, and timid. Then came the traumatic situation, and these inborn character traits grew more extreme. The shyness turned into shamefacedness. My reserved nature turned into a reclusive nature. The timidity turned into chronic fear. As strange as it may seem, shame, reclusiveness, and especially fear are how I protect myself. These extremes are some of the building blocks of my defensive wall.
In ancient days it was not uncommon for cities to be enclosed by defensive walls. The history of Jerusalem's city walls is partially recorded in brief passages throughout the Bible. Sometimes these passages recount the building of defensive walls, and sometimes they recount the destruction of those walls. Here are some passages for consideration:
BUILT: The first wall of the city known as Jerusalem was built by King Solomon.
1 Kings 9:15—And this is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem….
(See also 1 Kings 3:1.)
DESTROYED: King Jehoash of Israel destroyed a section of the wall of Jerusalem that was well over a mile long.
2 Kings 14:13—And Jehoash king of Israel … came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits….
(See also 2 Chron 25:23.)
BUILT: When Sennacherib, King of Assyria, threatened Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Judah repaired the broken wall and built another wall outside the original city wall.
2 Chron 32:5—He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall….
BUILT: King Manasseh of Judah, Hezekiah's son, built an outer wall upon his release from Assyrian captivity.
2 Chron 33:14—He built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, and for the entrance into the Fish Gate, and carried it around to Ophel, and raised it to a very great height….
DESTROYED: When King Zedekiah of Judah revolted against Babylonian rule, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem.
Jer 52:14—And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.
(See also 2 Kings 25:10; 2 Chron 36:19; Jer 39:8.)
Soon after the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah the prophet recorded a lament for the fallen city.
Lam 2:8—The Lord determined to lay in ruins the wall of the daughter of Zion; he stretched out the measuring line; he did not restrain his hand from destroying; he caused rampart and wall to lament; they languished together.
BUILT: Nehemiah was allowed by King Artaxerxes of Persia to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.
Neh 6:15—So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
DESTROYED: Jesus prophesied about the fall of Jerusalem that occurred in 70 AD.
Luke 21:5–6, 20–21, 24—And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” … “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it…. Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles….”
Why did God allow the walls of Jerusalem to fall time and time again? I think a fraction of the reason God allowed the destruction of the walls is given in Deuteronomy 28:52, before the Israelites were even established in Canaan: “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land….”
God allowed Jerusalem's defeat because the Israelites placed their trust in their own defensive structures rather than in Him. No matter how high we build our walls, if our trust is in our own defenses rather than in God, we are vulnerable to the enemy.
My trust has been primarily in the defensive walls I have built to protect myself, not in God. May the following words be true for me and for anyone who reads this as we work to place our trust in God: “‘We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you’” (Isa 26:1–3).
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