“But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.” Isaiah 42:22
Nehemiah could see the desolation as he toured the ruined walls of ancient Jerusalem. His heart had sunk when the tale of woe had first reached him in the palace. His ears had burned and his appetite had fled until his agitation could no longer be hid from the king. Finding royal favor, he had taken the first opportunity to come and see the destruction for himself. And now it was worse than he had imagined. What once had been strong was broken. What once had been beautiful was marred. What once had been glorious was rubble. What once had given shelter from enemy armies was torn away so that foxes could play. Piles of rubbish mounted so high that a beginning could scarcely be found for the work of restoration. And even worse was the reproach. More bitter a sight than the ruin itself was the way God’s enemies laughed in His face and despised His majesty! Nehemiah’s heart burst with the shame of it until his fury found an ear in the elders of Israel. Until this wall was built and the gates set up again, they must have no rest.
We too see destruction in the vast world around us–a people robbed and spoiled, walls crumbling, and the oppressed defenseless. Perhaps the scene of desolation has never been worse. Could we travel from country to country and from house to house, each fresh picture of despair would fill our hearts with pain. Not just one nation or culture has been affected, but the entire world has fallen prey. The damage has reached the farthest corners of society and affected old and young alike. Men who should be strong have been shorn of their manliness. Women who should be beautiful have traded away their natural radiance for artificial beauty. Children who should be innocent have been defiled. Old men who should be wise in counsel have lost their wisdom, and society suffers. Governments that should be protecting the people are fleecing them through a network of corruption. Homes that should provide a warm circle of love and security are racked with cheating and strife and instability. Religion which should have taught people how to worship God together has led them further from the truth and built up more walls between them. The spiritual poverty, the ignorance, the bondage of sin’s strongholds, and the vast unconquered darkness of deception are a horror to see. What has the enemy not succeeded in doing to steal, to kill, and to destroy?
And yet, what better platform than this could we wish for upon which to demonstrate the love and power of an omnipotent God? What stage could be fit more perfectly to show off His glorious majesty? A great work lies before us. We have the answer to all the world’s trouble. We hold the key that can free them from their chains. What is needed is hearts to bear the burden and hands to carry on the work.
The shame of the world is our shame. The oppression and bondage is ours. These are our people toiling in slavery. These are our children who are made fatherless and defenseless. These are our sisters and daughters being paraded before the eyes of sinful masters. These are our mothers who are being sent out of the home to labor. These are our men being emasculated, our boys and girls losing the right to know their God-given gender identity. These are our families who are being torn apart and starved for love. This is our glory that is being stripped away. This is our society that is divided and broken down. We have not yet altogether been restored. Not just our little community, but the whole world is our burden, our responsibility. Restoration can and must start in our family, but it cannot realize its full fruition until it reaches the world.
We are the Moses hidden from the king and saved in a basket from the raging torrent that should have been our death. We are the Esther brought by divine providence into the royal palace. The fact that our life was rescued and that our situation is more privileged than that of our brethren does not give us excuse to luxuriate without thought to their welfare. Our people are in a crisis. The very reason we were raised up was for their deliverance. We were restored so that they could be restored. We live so that we can bring them life.
Some of our brothers have not survived the waters, have sunk beneath the flow and been carried away. It is ours to avenge their blood. It is ours to weep with the broken ones until the river of tears washes away the gilded façade of deception. It is ours to bleed with them until the blood-soaked battlefield springs forth with new seed. It is ours to lift them up in prayer before the throne, and then to take up arms against their oppressors until the image set up to hold them in thrall has been broken to pieces. It is our duty to take their hand; to lead them out of the crumbling, burning city; and to bring them to a better place. Has any era of history presented man with such opportunity for heroism? Has any time demanded true brotherhood as much as now? It is time to stand up with God for the salvation of our people. May God inspire our hearts with the message that will set them free.