Borders and Boundaries

“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days” (Nehemiah 6:15).

We are well acquainted with this story in the Old Testament when Nehemiah worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah served as a cup bearer to the King in exile in Persia. Nehemiah cried when his brother told him about the state of Israel. “And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire”” (Nehemiah 1:3). Fast forward a few chapters and Nehemiah gained permission from the King and worked with the people in Israel to rebuild the walls.

We remember that Nehemiah experienced great opposition during his time of rebuilding. I took notice of the response from the surrounding cities once the work was completed. “And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16). Their response was both surprise and trepidation because they never anticipated that Nehemiah and the other Israelites would prevail. Trepidation came from their understanding that Isreal’s ability to re-establish their borders would allow them to increase in strength.

The other result which flowed from rebuilding the walls was that the people who had been dispersed returned from exile. As the people returned, they rebuilt houses and established a system of government and worship unto the Lord. The surrounding cities could benefit from Israel having no boundaries as anyone could enter and leave the city without restraint. This also meant that people could enter to take any remaining valuables left in the city as the people had no system to defend and protect themselves from outside interference.

I have taken a while to get to the point of stating that like cities, we also need borders and boundaries in our personal lives. Marriages and families need boundaries to govern how they are established and maintained, to prevent breakdown and external interference. Having too many opinions and interference in a marriage can cause erosion and gradual breakdown. Having too many opinions about how to raise your children can lead to confusion and bad parenting. While we need advice and some support, there has to be boundaries and areas of your life that you do not allow access to outsiders.

Some people with ‘not so good intentions,’ may benefit when you don’t have boundaries. Some people view relationships as a means to an end and see other people as existing to meet their own needs. You have to be discerning to determine why people want to be close to you. Set boundaries in order to protect your time and energy and set boundaries within your family and relationships. “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:16).

A.P.-Y.

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