I. Consider the fact of declension, decadence, degeneration, from a Divine type. Of this we have two instances: in Israel and in the Church. (1) Under the old dispensation, Israel in the Divine intention signified those in whom a great idea was realised. Proofs that this ideal unity was never lost sight of may be seen (a) in the life of Elijah; (b) in the life of St. Paul. (2) A parallel instance of declension from a Divine type we have in the Church. Decadence partial and temporary decadence, at all events seems to be a condition of the Church's existence here below. Earth is strewn with the shattered wrecks of heaven's ideals. It is well. The disappointments of history teach us to look forward and upward.
II. In the restoration wrought by Nehemiah we have (1) a type of all God's true repairers; (2) lessons for all such repairs. Notice (a) the builders worked under arms; (b) they worked under the harmonious co-operation of priesthood and laity, we might almost say, in modern language, of Church and State.
III. Notice, lastly, the triumph. There had been discouragement from without and within. When the Church's builders are up and doing, Sanballat will not be silent. Tobiah's bitter epigram will not be wanting. But after all discouragement, the day of triumph dawns upon these waiting hearts. The strength of the Lord had been their joy; the joy of the Lord became their strength. Is it not even so with the Church? God's people have a mind to work. The Church shall be repaired. One day God's summer light shall strike upon the topmost row. Christ, the Divine Healer, will own the work of restoration by miracles of love at the sheep-gate and the pool of Siloam. The theology of the Incarnation will prove itself by enabling men to understand what is otherwise a tangled mass of contradictions the character and life of Jesus.
Bishop Alexander, Christian World Pulpit,vol. iv., p. 241.
References: Nehemiah 2:17. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year,vol. ii., Appendix, No. 11:2:18. Preacher's Monthly,vol. iv., p. 173; A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit,vol. xxviii., p. 54; A. J. Griffith, Ibid.,vol. xvi., p. 137. 2 Parker, Fountain,June 28th, 1877. Nehemiah 3:8. Spurgeon, Evening by Evening,p. 235.Nehemiah 3:12. Homiletic Magazine,vol. xv., p. 346. Nehemiah 3:15. M. G. Pearse, Sermons to Children,p. 24; Spurgeon, Sermons,vol. xiv., No. 790; Ibid., Evening by Evening,p. 103.