TEXT: Nehemiah 3:12
During the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem, the Temple was destroyed and the walls guarding the city were turned to rubble. Although the Israelites were eventually able to return and the Temple was partially rebuilt, the city and Temple were still vulnerable to attack since the walls had never been rebuilt. After Nehemiah found out about the condition of the walls, he immediately prayed to God for help to rebuild them.
This kind of job couldn't be accomplished by one person, so once Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he encouraged all of the people to join in rebuilding the wall. Everyone was assigned to build the wall near his own house. Most likely the majority of Jerusalem's residents had sons to help them work, but Shallum had only daughters, so he built his section of the wall with his own daughters.
There are two lessons I believe we can learn from this story. First, we need to recognize the importance of building and guarding the walls around our hearts -- the place where we hear from and worship God. As Proverbs 4:23 states, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Like Nehemiah and Shallum's daughters we need to recognize the importance of guarding our hearts and minds from the Enemy who wishes to distract us from worshipping and obeying God. Second, this story reminds us that God can use women to accomplish jobs that appear to be only for men. In the end, Shallum's daughters were able to help their father complete the task assigned to him -- and so proved to be just as useful as sons.
After the Jewish people began to slowly return from exile in Babylon and Persia to Jerusalem, they had to work diligently to rebuild first the Temple and then the city of Jerusalem. This work required everyone to be involved -- giving time and money to rebuild the walls, sometimes at the risk of physical harm (Neh 4:16). Even when it isn't dangerous, rebuilding a wall is sweaty, messy work that requires consistent work under a hot sun. Some leaders and nobles were too proud "to stoop to serve The Lord" (3:5) and sent their servants to do it -- but not Shallum and his daughters. Although Shallum was a ruler of half the district of Jerusalem and had no sons to help him, he and his daughters faithfully did their part. Shallum's daughters are the only women mentioned in chapter 3 and may well have been the only women building and repairing the wall. Every day these women engaged in hard labor to rebuild the city wall, so that their city and their people and the Temple of God would be safe from attack.
Even in our time, God is inviting us to join Him in the work of restoration and rebuilding. He invites us to be a part of building his Kingdom and of restoring the parts of his creation that have been destroyed and ravaged by sin and evil.
How is God inviting you to get your hands dirty in the work of restoration and rebuilding? What has hindered you from joining Him or from persevering in the work He has given you?