“We make it easy for the devil when we don’t know who we are or Who made us.”~TB
Identity is a powerful concept. Our interpretation of who we believe we are shapes our thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and so on. If you know God, your personal understanding of your identity changes. First, you are His, everything else becomes secondary. If you don’t know God, first, you lack an accurate perspective on identity, allowing your flesh, the world, and the opposition to plant confusion in your ear. Today, the idea of identity has been severely skewed with dangerous misconceptions. I used to think that people were duped because they didn’t have the resources to know God (As I type this, I realize that initial thought was foolish because God is omnipotent). But now, I realize we are in the shape that we’re in— both physically and mentally— because we want what is easy. Friend’s take caution as easy street is the opposition’s breeding ground.
Knowing God is simple— not necessarily easy. It takes discipline to continue to fall, get back up, learn, and repeat. Just like learning a new skill, continual practice is vital in growing your relationship with God. Unfortunately, we’ve built a society that demonizes hard work and champions complacency. It’s so blatant that we complicate our lives to justify our laziness. Think about it, people will make excuses rather than do the work. People will also justify mutilating their bodies based on how they feel, rather than trying to get to the heart of their true identity. This isn’t to say that those who struggle aren’t fighting something difficult. Choosing easy feels like a ‘get out of responsibility’ card, and trust me I get it. Problem is, easy doesn’t benefit tomorrow and when tomorrow fades, we all have to give an account, no matter which road we chose. So know your true identity and choose wisely.
Do you want easy or eternal?
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1Listen, Ethiopia —land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
2that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.
3All you people of the world, everyone who lives on the earth— when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look! When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!
4For the LORD has told me this: “I will watch quietly from my dwelling place— as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day, or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”
5Even before you begin your attack, while your plans are ripening like grapes, the LORD will cut off your new growth with pruning shears. He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
6Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields for the mountain vultures and wild animals. The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer. The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.
7At that time the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the LORD of Heaven’s Armies dwells.
“Stay close to God so that you do not get unplugged from His wisdom.”~TB
If you’re not careful, life has a way of getting you off track in your relationship with Christ. Whether it’s just life circumstances, poor decisions, or the opposition rocking your boat, taking your eyes off of the Truth is a recipe for disaster. When we stop looking to God for the answers, we begin to make up answers that generally leave us worse off than before. Friends, don’t lean on your human made solutions to the challenges in your life. When we struggle to find God in the midst of our situations, it’s a sign that we’re not going to the source material— the Bible— to know the Truth.
Recognize that there are patterns and cycles in life, and no matter what, our faith and reliance in God is the only key to success! The devil may poke and prod, making you feel uneasy and alone, but when you’re plugged into God, you know the difference. This is why reading the Bible daily is so important. It’s not just a task that you check off to get a pat on the head from God. No, it possesses the tools and weapons to prepare and protect you from the world and the opposition. Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors of the evil one. Rest on the Truth of the Word to stay plugged in.
Are you plugged into Christ or plugged into chaos and uncertainty?
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Song of Solomon
1Where has your lover gone, O woman of rare beauty? Which way did he turn so we can help you find him?
2My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies.
3I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies.
4You are beautiful, my darling, like the lovely city of Tirzah. Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as majestic as an army with billowing banners.
5Turn your eyes away, for they overpower me. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
6Your teeth are as white as sheep that are freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
7Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
8Even among sixty queens and eighty concubines and countless young women,
9I would still choose my dove, my perfect one— the favorite of her mother, dearly loved by the one who bore her. The young women see her and praise her; even queens and royal concubines sing her praises:
10“Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with billowing banners?”
11I went down to the grove of walnut trees and out to the valley to see the new spring growth, to see whether the grapevines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man.
13Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam. Come back, come back, that we may see you again. Young Man Why do you stare at this young woman of Shulam, as she moves so gracefully between two lines of dancers?
“The opposition can take things from you, but he cannot take your salvation.”~TB
Like a thief lying in wait for the opportune moment, he will try and steal your peace and joy by any means necessary. His main goal is to get you to feel as though God isn’t with you. Friends, don’t turn your back away from God when you are going through tough times. Remain calm and learn all you can in your trials so that you grow from the experience.
When you experience setbacks that come from the evil one, rest assured that these attacks are temporary and they will pass. In times of great trial, lean on the word for comfort. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who have endured trying times and great opposition. What comfort it is to know that our experiences are no different from those before us!
Whatever the opposition attempts to steal, God will redeem and then some. Christ is the ultimate defender and protector, so when evil comes against you, there’s no need to fight. Be still and know that your Creator is in control. Our own defense or vindication does not hold a candle to what Christ can do for us. So when evil tries to take, remember who redeems and what He was decided cannot be changed.
Are you remaining still and allowing God to work in your life?
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1Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.
2Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips.
3A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.
4Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.
5An open rebuke is better than hidden love!
6Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
7A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.
8A person who strays from home is like a bird that strays from its nest.
9The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
10Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.
11Be wise, my child, and make my heart glad. Then I will be able to answer my critics.
12A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
13Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.
14A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!
15A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.
16Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.
17As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
18As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded.
19As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.
20Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.
21Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.
22You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.
23Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.
“The enemy will always attack you in your weakest area. The beauty of this is that you know his strategy.”~TB
The devil’s job is to get you off task, off focus, and offline so that you reject the truth and do his bidding. As such, his sneaky underhanded tactics are visceral, jarring, and strategic. He will use any deceptive practice that is the most effective in getting you to stumble. Now, this may seem discouraging. Your weaknesses and footholds will always be where he’ll hit you the hardest. It’s not his job to make your walk with Christ easy, in fact, it’s the total opposite. While you may experience attacks, setbacks, and discouragement, the devil’s unfair play makes it easy to recognize his strategy. Further, if the devil is messing with you so intensely, know it’s because you’re disrupting his plans for discord and destruction. He’ll never go after the lukewarm, so stand firm in Christ and keep moving.
Knowing how the opposition will attack you is like having his playbook to prepare against his moves. Take stock of your weaknesses, vices, and footholds. Knowing your greatest areas of opportunity is the first step in discerning how the opposition is going to attack you. When you experience opposition of any kind, take a step back, calm your feelings, and observe what is going on around you. Remember who made you and that He is available to help you always. Ask God for help in revealing the playing field and the best plan of action to rise above the opposition’s nonsense. Know that the evil one cannot take your salvation and standing with Christ. The best plan of attack is to acknowledge your weak points, ask God for help, and do the work in improving your walk with Christ. Remember, in times of trouble, double down in your faith and not your own understanding. Though you may stumble, God will not let you fall.
Are you using the playbook or are you falling prey to the oppositions dirty tactics?
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1These are more proverbs of Solomon, collected by the advisers of King Hezekiah of Judah.
2It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.
3No one can comprehend the height of heaven, the depth of the earth, or all that goes on in the king’s mind!
4Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.
5Remove the wicked from the king’s court, and his reign will be made secure by justice.
6Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great.
7It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace. Just because you’ve seen something,
8don’t be in a hurry to go to court. For what will you do in the end if your neighbor deals you a shameful defeat?
9When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret.
10Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.
11Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.
12To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.
13Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.
14A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.
15Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.
16Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!
17Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.
18Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.
19Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.
20Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.
21If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.
22You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the LORD will reward you.
23As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!
24It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
25Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty.
26If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
27It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.
28A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
“As you grow in Christ it’s important to discern the difference between conviction and condemnation.”~TB
Each step you take, following Christ, you will see that your old misdeeds of yesterday no longer bring you the same pleasure as they once did. Even still, as you mess up, you will feel the Holy Spirit correct you in your wrongdoing. Conviction is the tug from the Holy Spirit letting you know that you’re doing wrong. It brings you closer to God. Friends, take joy in the correction of conviction. This means that your flesh is being tamed day by day. While we will always fall short of perfection, the conviction of your sin and the condemnation that may occur after are two separate things.
Once you’ve confessed your transgressions to God and have turned away from your wayward behavior, that’s it. Notice how God does not harp on you about who you were yesterday, let alone a decade ago. If you feel the weight of sins that you’ve confessed and fled from creep into your life, that is not of God. Condemnation is the recurring guilt of old behaviors you left behind. Condemnation brings guilt and shame, making you feel stuck, ultimately leading you away from God. The opposition will use this to get you off your walk Consult God daily to understand what is conviction and what is condemnation.
Have you spent time with God and the Word to know the difference?
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1Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.
2The king’s fury is like a lion’s roar; to rouse his anger is to risk your life.
3Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.
4Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.
5Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.
6Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?
7The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
8When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good.
9Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin”?
10False weights and unequal measures — the LORD detests double standards of every kind.
11Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.
12Ears to hear and eyes to see— both are gifts from the LORD .
13If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!
14The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!
15Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.
16Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.
17Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth.
18Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.
19A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.
20If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.
21An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end.
22Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the LORD to handle the matter.
23The LORD detests double standards; he is not pleased by dishonest scales.
24The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
25Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.
26A wise king scatters the wicked like wheat, then runs his threshing wheel over them.
27The LORD ’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.
28Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.
29The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.
30Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.
“There will be days where you’re exhausted and confused. Press on.”~TB
Nothing great is ever easy. The life of a Christian is not without its challenges. When you’re weary, tired, and feeling defeated, don’t give up! If you stumble and fall, get up. Though your trials are not without merit, take comfort that your fate is not of the Apostle Paul.
When you’re struggling, remember who made you. Remember who redeems you. Remember who already won the battle. You’re not pressing on for His sake, but for yours! Don’t be dismayed, don’t let the opposition trick you into submission. Take a nap, arm yourself in the Truth and press on.
Are you pressed or are you pressing on?
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1I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD .”
2And now here we are, standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem is a well-built city; its seamless walls cannot be breached.
4All the tribes of Israel—the LORD ’s people— make their pilgrimage here. They come to give thanks to the name of the LORD, as the law requires of Israel.
5Here stand the thrones where judgment is given, the thrones of the dynasty of David.
6Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper.
7O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces.
8For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “May you have peace.”
9For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
“It is important to study and learn the tricks of the enemy so you know exactly who you’re dealing with and how to avoid the traps.”~TB
If you look at any successful professional athlete, one thing is abundantly clear, they study their opponent. They learn how the opposing team plays, their best moves, and most importantly, their weaknesses. Friends, to create a solid defense against the devil, you must understand who you’re dealing with. This isn’t to scare you, but for you to gain confidence in your game of life. Faith grows by trust and action. To get the best defense, study the Word. Evil’s greatest weakness is the Truth, God is on the throne and a fallen angel is powerless to overturn an already won championship. When your defense is Biblically based, you’re able to sidestep the nonsense to shoot the J.
When your defense is based on the Truth, your offense looks bright because you’re shining in the light of salvation. Trust that God’s playbook contains the right offensive plays for you to score in your game of life. If you let Him, He’ll even teach you how to play with others. Armed with the Truth, you can assist your teammates, helping them score their Holy jump shot because you know this is a team effort and that everyone has the talent to give. Playing as a unit, the opposition cannot steal your ball because your plays are Biblically based. The devil cannot even compete and his team is easily swept by God’s Holy unit. How wonderful it is to be on the undefeated team!
Are you playing on the right team or is it time for a trade?
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1O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof
2while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me.
3They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason.
4I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them!
5They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love.
6They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial.
7When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins.
8Let his years be few; let someone else take his position.
9May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow.
10May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes.
11May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned.
12Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children.
13May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in the next generation.
14May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.
15May the LORD always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory.
16For he refused all kindness to others; he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death.
17He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don’t you bless him.
18Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats.
19Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt.”
20May those curses become the LORD ’s punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me.
21But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good.
22For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain.
23I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust.
24My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones.
25I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.
26Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love.
27Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, LORD .
28Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing!
29May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak.
30But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone.
31For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
“Expect the opposition to lurk around to look for ways to stop or slow your progress.”~ Jon Barnes
Slowly and quietly move forward in your plans for God so that you may complete the task. Be aware of your missions and goals to complete with your personal, business, and spiritual needs, which all should be one objective.You can’t separate perfection so enjoy the connection.
Carefully step into the footprints God has established for you to walk upon so that you can avoid land mines, traps, and bombs.Understanding the history of cultural oppositions will allow you to see and comprehend the biblical stories and their oppositions of the past.
Find your solutions, prayerfully in the scriptures and work with what you have.Your help is in front of you so use your common sense to do the right things, in prayer, listening to God.When things fall into place, your obedience will make room and space for the next steps.Keep saving your time and money for the right opportunities to move forward.
Are you moving backward with the opposition?
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Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
3 Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel.2 People from the town of Jericho worked next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri.
3 The Fish Gate was built by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.4 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz repaired the next section of wall. Beside him were Meshullam son of Berekiah and grandson of Meshezabel, and then Zadok son of Baana.5 Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.
6 The Old City Gate[a] was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.7 Next to them were Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, people from Gibeon, and people from Mizpah, the headquarters of the governor of the province west of the Euphrates River.[b]8 Next was Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith by trade, who also worked on the wall. Beyond him was Hananiah, a manufacturer of perfumes. They left out a section of Jerusalem as they built the Broad Wall.[c]
9 Rephaiah son of Hur, the leader of half the district of Jerusalem, was next to them on the wall.10 Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired the wall across from his own house, and next to him was Hattush son of Hashabneiah.11 Then came Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab, who repaired another section of the wall and the Tower of the Ovens.12 Shallum son of Hallohesh and his daughters repaired the next section. He was the leader of the other half of the district of Jerusalem.
13 The Valley Gate was repaired by the people from Zanoah, led by Hanun. They set up its doors and installed its bolts and bars. They also repaired the 1,500 feet[d]of wall to the Dung Gate.
14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, the leader of the Beth-hakkerem district. He rebuilt it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.
15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum[e] son of Col-hozeh, the leader of the Mizpah district. He rebuilt it, roofed it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Then he repaired the wall of the pool of Siloam[f] near the king’s garden, and he rebuilt the wall as far as the stairs that descend from the City of David.16 Next to him was Nehemiah son of Azbuk, the leader of half the district of Beth-zur. He rebuilt the wall from a place across from the tombs of David’s family as far as the water reservoir and the House of the Warriors.
17 Next to him, repairs were made by a group of Levites working under the supervision of Rehum son of Bani. Then came Hashabiah, the leader of half the district of Keilah, who supervised the building of the wall on behalf of his own district.18 Next down the line were his countrymen led by Binnui[g] son of Henadad, the leader of the other half of the district of Keilah.
19 Next to them, Ezer son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section of wall across from the ascent to the armory near the angle in the wall.20 Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.21 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz rebuilt another section of the wall extending from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of the house.
22 The next repairs were made by the priests from the surrounding region.23 After them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the section across from their house, and Azariah son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah repaired the section across from his house.24 Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner.25 Palal son of Uzai carried on the work from a point opposite the angle and the tower that projects up from the king’s upper house beside the court of the guard. Next to him were Pedaiah son of Parosh,26 with the Temple servants living on the hill of Ophel, who repaired the wall as far as a point across from the Water Gate to the east and the projecting tower.27 Then came the people of Tekoa, who repaired another section across from the great projecting tower and over to the wall of Ophel.
28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.29 Next Zadok son of Immer also rebuilt the wall across from his own house, and beyond him was Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the gatekeeper of the East Gate.30 Next Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section, while Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall across from where he lived.31 Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the wall as far as the housing for the Temple servants and merchants, across from the Inspection Gate. Then he continued as far as the upper room at the corner.32 The other goldsmiths and merchants repaired the wall from that corner to the Sheep Gate.