Nehemiah says, “Build the Wall.”

As the discussions and threats go on about building a wall on our Southern border, Christians may find themselves torn between what some have characterized as racist and xenophobic and others have characterized as national defense. However, let’s step away from the secular political posturing and examine what the Bible has to say about the subject. If we are to espouse a biblical worldview, we must first know what the bible says.

So where does the bible talk about building a wall? The book of Nehemiah, or in the Jewish cannon Ezra-Nehemiah. Believed to be written by the scribe Ezra, the text of Nehemiah tells the story of the person of the same name. The story takes place after the Babylonians, who carried the Jews into exile, are defeated by the Persians. The Persian King, Cyrus, reverses the public policy of the Babylonians of exiling their conquered peoples to repatriation of the people and restoration of the local worship. Thus, after about fifty years of exile Israelites are allowed to return to their homeland.

The story of Nehemiah begins with the date and his location in Susa (under the rule of Artaxerxes). He then hears from one of his brothers who has returned from Jerusalem with a report. The troubling news from his brother is found in verse three and reads, “…the remnant there is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3 ESV)

These few words are the impetus for the entire book. The rebuilding of the walls becomes Nehemiah’s purpose in life. In the next few verses, he cries and mourns for days, fasting and praying to God for favor to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Nehemiah understands that the Holy City of Jerusalem, without its walls, is vulnerable to attack, looting, and pilfering. Jerusalem will never be the city it once was without a way to defend itself. Without a defining boundary that identifies a great city, it will continue to depict Israel’s defeat, and the people of the city will have no defense against any further aggression. 

Without recounting the whole story here, Nehemiah will rebuild the walls of Jerusalem amid threats from her neighbors with attempts to delay or derail the entire project. So much so that Nehemiah and his workers will have to arm themselves for potential physical combat as they build the wall.

Now I know there are some who want to focus on the treatment of illegal aliens in the bible. Let’s be clear that God is continually telling the people of Judah and Israel to treat the alien or sojourner with kindness and love because they were strangers, aliens or sojourners in Egypt. 

“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9 ESV) Or “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:33-34)

However, we also find that the alien, stranger, or sojourner isn’t free to do whatever they want to do. They must obey the law of the land. “If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49 ESV) They are also to obey the Sabbath laws. In fact, Israel is in exile because her people didn’t follow their own laws.

The New Testament directly speaks to God establishing the boundaries of nations. Paul addressed the Greeks in Athens in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:24-27 ESV). The emphasis is mine but the argument is that there is one God who created everything. He is the one who gives life and breath. He created from one man every nation and He determines their time periods and boundaries. The establishment of countries with boundaries, borders was God’s idea.

Thus, it only makes sense from a biblical worldview to require those who do enter our country to obey our laws, especially with regards to legal entry. Scripture is clear that whoever comes must abide by the law. The building of the wall was to ensure the protection the wall brings to the natural residents and to control who has access.

Thus, the building of a wall on the Southern border is not xenophobic but an attempt to protect those who live along our porous border controlling who has access to not only our country but to everything we provide for those who are citizens. The wall is a defense against those who wish us harm and choose not to obey our laws. We need not cater to their intentions. Nehemiah understood this and we should too. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, they rebuilt the wall in fifty-two days despite the opposition.

Build the Wall Mr. President, or a fence!

Default Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “Nehemiah says, “Build the Wall.”

  1. Bill Putnam says:

    Dr. Wallace, great exposition! It’s sad that so many young people in the USA have had their minds warped by those who believe in the religion of Darwinism. Colleges, and public school teachers now place little importance on the wisdom contained in the Bible, or, faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, and Lord. Of one thing we can be sure: The hound of Heaven will save whom He chooses; So all is not lost.
    God bless you and yours,
    Bill Putnam
    Plaistow, NH

  2. MJ Harding says:

    I find it odd that Dr. Wallace’s article quotes from Leviticus, but fails to apply that commandment to Nehemiah. If we read back in 1 Kings, there’s bound to be an ironic moment when we learn that Solomon’s temple and the walls of Jerusalem were built with slave labor (the original inhabitants of the land) but Ezra and Nehemiah insist that this same group is banned from the rebuilding project. Ezra’s claim that foreign wives and children need to be banished from the land because of the fear of contaminating the nation’s “holy seed” (9:2) is as racist as it gets.

    The Israelite has forgotten that it wasn’t the defilement of his “holy seed” that has led to captivity, but his failure to follow in the path of shalom. Ezra’s reading of the sin of Solomon focuses on his many foreign wives, but is silent on his building of empire and empire is always opposed to God.

    Let’s not forget that Ezra and Nehemiah’s projects never come to fruition. Let’s also not forget that the book of Ruth was penned around the same time and presents a view that is antithetical to these two books; Ruth argues for the inclusion of the foreigner and if you are a Christian then mark well that Christ comes to us through Ruth, and not Ezra or Nehemiah.

    Trump’s wall is no answer.

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