Hovering over Nehemiah 4 this morning.
First observation, the work of God will be opposed by the enemies of God. Nehemiah & Co. are in the center of God’s will as they rebuild the wall at Jerusalem. They are also in the crosshairs of those who were displeased greatly “that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel” (2:10). And after their foes failed at compromising the work by infiltrating the people of God (2:17-20) and failed at discouraging the work by jeering the people of God (4:1-3), they quit playing games and plotted to end the work by physically attacking the people of God (4:7-8).
Second observation? Prayer and planning are not mutually exclusive. Neither are trusting and taking up the sword. Nor faith and fighting.
And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
(Nehemiah 4:8-9 ESV)
Our enemies plotted, records Nehemiah, and we prayed. They got ready to fight, we got ready to protect. Petition and preparation went hand-in-hand.
They trusted God for the work so they kept working. But they were not unaware of the reality of an enemy and so they worked smart.
From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.
(Nehemiah 4:16-18a ESV)
Half working, half watching. Some with one hand put to the task and the other hand holding a sword. Others, while fully engaged in God’s building program and fully trusting in God’s protection, yet fitted with the battle gear of God’s providing.
And what I’m chewing on in particular this morning is Nehemiah’s exhortation to those ready to work and prepared to wage war.
And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
(Nehemiah 4:14 ESV)
Do not be afraid. Remember and fight.
Remember your God. Bring to mind all that you know concerning Jehovah, that He is great and awesome. Recall that He who has already delivered you from bondage for a great work (Eph. 2:10) has promised to complete that work (Php. 1:6).
And then, knowing that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”, take up the full armor of God and be prepared to repel the enemy, (Eph. 6:10-18). Stand fast. Pray much. Be ready to engage much with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Confident that greater is He who is in you than He who is the world (1Jn. 4:4).
Prayer and preparation aren’t mutually exclusive. While engaging the enemy directly may not always be needed, we should always be ready.
Ready to remember. Ready to fight.
By His grace. For His glory.