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Admiration

That is our response to the courage of God's people during a time of adversity. There was little to encourage the desolate Israelites in Jerusalem where the city walls were in crumbling ruin, and the gates had been destroyed by fire. All sorts of alibis could be invented for the unsightly display, but in truth the people were weary, discouraged, broken in spirit, shattered and scattered. But when Nehemiah, God's valiant man of prayer and action, cried Out to them, 'Come and let us build' (Neh. 2:17), the people responded jubilantly. As one they cried, 'Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work' (v.18). We cannot but admire their heart willingness and determination which was reflected in their yeoman effort along-side each other on the wall. Note Nehemiah's description of those who were there. Not stonemasons with strong, rugged hands, but 'goldsmiths one of the apothecaries... the ruler

of half the district of Jerusalem... and the priests .... and the merchants' (Neh.3). 'Men whose delicate hands must have been bruised and bleeding as they lovingly and faithfully performed an onerous task for God and His people. They knuckled down without a grumble to help in a mammoth undertaking. Despite sniping, cruel words and actions from their adversaries, these courageous ones, strengthened by Nehemiah's prayers and encouragement, stayed with the project until that wonderful moment when 'the wall was finished' (6:15). Imagine these brave men, after all the taunting, mocking, and needling of the enemy, standing back and looking with loving admiration at the restored walls and gates of their beloved city! How their hearts would beat with joy as they looked heavenward to the dwellingplace of their God and King.

What an encouragement all this is to the Israel of God in the remnant

days in which we live. Let us follow our vision to yet another who knew extreme loneliness at the close of an heroic life of dedication to the Lord's work - Paul the beloved apostle. 'All that are in Asia turned away from me', he wrote (2 Tim. 1:15). 'Demas forsook me ... Only Luke is with me Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil... no one took my part, but all forsook me' (2 Tim. 4:9-17). How we admire this heroic defender of the faith who did not allow adversity to deflect him from the task before him. What faith he had! The Lord honoured it with His presence, and so Paul wrote: 'The Lord stood by me, and strengthened me ... The Lord will deliver me from every evil work' (2 Tim. 4:17,18).

How much we need today to imitate the faith of those who have gone before us holding firmly the sword of the Spirit. Perhaps the following words from the noble hymn of revered Isaac Watts, will further exemplify our thoughts, and provide us with a noble example and incentive for our day.

Give me the wings of faith to rise

Within the veil, and see

The saints above, how great their joys,

How bright their glories be.

Once they were mourners here below,

And wet their couch with tears;

They wrestled hard, as we do now,

With sins and doubts and fears.

I ask them whence their victory came;

They, with united breath,

Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,

Their triumph to His death.