Shut the Gates

Nehemiah’s story is one of my favorites in the Old Testament. It’s an incredible story of leadership and what happens when you take God-sized steps towards a task that comes out of God-given convictions.

In Nehemiah, you find God’s people returning to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and, under his leadership, they rebuilt the city walls, reestablished their homes, and started gathering again for public worship.

Slowly, life began to return to normal. However, as normalcy returned, the discipline of Sabbath and taking a weekly rest slowly diminished. So much so that, when Nehemiah returns from a trip to Babylon, he discovers that the Sabbath day is no longer a Sabbath day to the Lord. It had become just another day of trade and business.

Nehemiah’s not happy. So, he makes a command.

When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.

Nehemiah 13:19

He ordered the shutting of the gates to the city on the Sabbath.

When I came across this story last week in preparation for last Sunday’s word in Harvest, something about that moment stirred my heart. Aren’t we all called, to a certain extent, to shut the gates and turn down the volume of noise in a culture that gets busier and noisier day by day?

I believe we are.

That’s the beauty that awaits us when we make sabbath and solitude a discipline in our lives.

So, tell me. What would it look like for YOU to shut the gates of some of the things you’re allowing into your heart and mind and, instead, allow some solitude and stillness in to sit with the Lord?

Remember. We control the level of noise we allow in.

Perhaps saying “no” to somethings you’re allowing in is actually saying “yes” to something much greater.

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