Are You Willing To Labor To Build or Tear Down? by Robert Socha
A city in ruins, destroyed—a people in captivity. Two men separated by 2,000 years, committed their lives to a resolution and effected change.
A man learned of a magnificent city’s destruction, his ancestral homeland, and it grieved him tremendously. The grief was so apparent that his lord inquired to the source and, after learning of the cause of this man’s distress, granted him the ability to return and rebuild.
Another man learned of his magnificent country’s participation in an act so treacherous that he pledged his life to see the eradication of such a wicked trade.
Two thousand five hundred years ago, the first man, Nehemiah, went from testing the king’s food for poison by tasting it first to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah learned Jerusalem’s walls had fallen and its gates burned with fire, the tragic sorrow that filled his soul moved the king to allow him to leave his lifesaving position and reconstruct his people’s capital city. He endeavored to do so under constant mocking and disparaging threats of attack on his character, life, health, and ability. He was able to prevail despite his enemies’ threats and encourage and lead his people to complete the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in just 52 days! This accomplishment allowed the Jewish people to once again return from exile in Babylon to their homeland. “Nehemiah’s expertise in the king’s court equipped him adequately for the political and physical reconstruction necessary for the remnant to survive.” (1)
Two hundred thirty years ago, the second man, William Wilberforce, once he converted to Christianity and learned of the terrible injustice, cruelty, and death resulting from the practice of the slave trade, dedicated his life to its destruction, knowing it would naturally lead to the abolition of slavery itself. On May 12, 1789, he opened his speech to parliament in this way,
“When I consider the magnitude of the subject which I am to bring before the House-a subject, in which the interests, not of this country, nor of Europe alone, but of the whole world, and of posterity, are involved: and when I think, at the same time, on the weakness of the advocate who has undertaken this great cause-when these reflections press upon my mind, it is impossible for me not to feel both terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy to such a task. But when I reflect, however, on the encouragement which I have had, through the whole course of a long and laborious examination of this question, and how much candour I have experienced, and how conviction has increased within my own mind, in proportion as I have advanced in my labours;-when I reflect, especially, that however averse any gentleman may now be, yet we shall all be of one opinion in the end;-when I turn myself to these thoughts, I take courage-I determine to forget all my other fears, and I march forward with a firmer step in the full assurance that my cause will bear me out, and that I shall be able to justify upon the clearest principles, every resolution in my hand, the avowed end of which is, the total abolition of the slave trade.” (2)
He and a man named Thomas Clarkston, had 12 resolutions against the trade introduced to parliament by 1789 and was defeated in bills introduced in 1791, 1792, 1793, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1804, and 1805. His ardent defense of the Africans’ lives stolen from their lands and sold across the sea garnered strong rebukes, maligning, and vilification. Undeterred by the negativity, character assassination, and failures in earlier propositions, his continued valiant efforts toward this righteous cause succeeded with parliament’s passing the abolishment of the slave trade in 1807. It took more than 44 years, but the Lord Himself granted the man’s desire to see the institution of slavery abolished in the British Empire! Three days before he died on July 29, 1833, Wilberforce learned “the final passage of the emancipation bill was assured in committee.” (3)
Friends, may we carry this mantle. Would that a cause so worthy in our estimation would dedicate our lives to ensure its success, come what may. We need more Nehemiahs and Wilberforces; more people to hear God’s voice; more people to take action, cast ourselves into troubled waters, and be the ripple affecting the farthest shore. I encourage you to call on God to stir your soul, for a great awakening in your spirit, to revive your hope and joy, to use your voice, your hands, your feet for the glory of God!
- Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament(Peabody, Mass.: Prince Press, 2007), 165.
About the Author
Mychal S. Massie is an ordained minister who spent 13 years in full-time Christian Ministry. Today he serves as founder and Chairman of the Racial Policy Center (RPC), a think tank he officially founded in September 2015. RPC advocates for a colorblind society. He was founder and president of the non-profit “In His Name Ministries.” He is the former National Chairman of a conservative Capitol Hill think tank; and a former member of the think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. Read entire bio here