Nehemiah and the Jews have learned about the neighbor’s plot. They refuse to give in so they are armed and ready as they continue work on the wall.
This is some massive commitment the Jews are showing. Not only are they not running scared when they find out about the plot Sanballet has going but they ready for the fight. They don’t go out looking for a fight but they won’t be stopped in their tasks either. They double their workload in the process but keep on building the wall.
I wonder how much this slowed the work down. The work force was cut in half. Half stood ready to engage the enemy with sword, shield, and armor while the rest continued work on the wall. The ones carried items also had to figure out how to do the job one handed. This would mean carrying half the load and being unbalanced or finding alternate ways to do the job. They had to have one hand available for their sword at all times. Even those who worked on the wall itself had to have their sword strapped to their side. Ready to do battle at a moment’s notice.
The phrase “as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves” keeps circling my head. Nehemiah had the men wisely prepare to defend themselves without actively seeking out confrontation. They were innocent of provoking their neighbors. Their actions were those prescribed by their God; rebuilding His city.
They asked their God to fight for them but they also prepared for the work that may be required. They had no idea how God would choose to protect them while they continued on in His tasks. God could have confused the enemies and set them against one another in battle. He could have sent Heavenly forces to mow them down. He could have sent a plague upon them that killed them in their tents in the night. But He didn’t. What He did do was to reveal the enemy’s secret plans and give His people courage.
God didn’t take the danger away. He didn’t ‘calm the storm’ and send their enemies packing. He gave them peace in the midst of the storm. It wasn’t a ‘lie down and take a nap’ peace but a ‘we have got this’ peace. They had to continue to put in the hard work and trust Him to have their back, no matter what came. They deepened their relationship with Him and with one another in the process.
I wonder if that was the whole purpose behind the process. God didn’t really need a wall around the city He chose for Himself. He didn’t even need it to protect the people there. He could have easily performed a miracle to keep those who were faithful to Him safe. But the wall building brought the people together and it focused them on a shared cause. They learned they could count on their neighbors to help in the labor and watch over them in times of danger. They learned to give, receive and ask for help. How many lasting relationships were built right alongside the wall?
We face challenges in our lives that we can take lessons from Jerusalem’s wall builders.
- When God calls you to it, He will see you through it.
- You have to put in the work.
- Most jobs require more than one person.
- Give, receive and ask for help from your team members.
- Be ready! The enemy is real and he doesn’t like it when God’s people succeed.
- Use the tools God gives you in both offensive and defensive actions. There IS a time for both.
- Trust that He will be with you and bring about the BEST outcome according to HIS plan.
- Stay with it until the task is complete. There is no greater witness than a person of faith who refuses to give up the RIGHT fight.
- Don’t be afraid to tell God your fears. Let Him comfort you or confront you as your spirit needs.
Father God, thank You for ALWAYS having my back. I know I can trust You with any situation. I can even trust You when I feel I can’t reach You. And there are those times in my life. I have but to strap on my sword and just keep walking in the path You already set out for me.
Today I have been so distracted by all the things going on around me but when I needed You most to help my husband I felt You right there. It was a small thing he had to endure but You heard my prayer and calmed his spirit. Thank You! Tonight with all the distractions of ‘new toys’ You were still able to redirect my heart so we could spend time together. You brought out meaning in Your story for me that I KNOW I will use in my life. Keep me ready for whatever battles lie ahead.
This is the song that always comes to me when I think of warfare. This warrior is a child. I may look invincible to some but deep inside this armor, this warrior is a child who runs to her Daddy when things get too tough. I KNOW He is always there to pick me up again and that I am always welcome to bring Him my pain.