“11 Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’ 13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our work.”
In this chapter, we have seen some of the stratagems the enemy of God deploys against the church in every age. These include:
- Mockery (1-5);
- Physical violence, or the threat of it (7-9; 11,12);
- Discouragement/fear (10-12).
In dealing with all this Nehemiah stood tall as an effective spiritual leader:
- He prayed. We have already seen examples of this. But it’s important to note that for all that he stands out in the Bible as a great man of prayer, he didn’t just pray;
- He took strategic action (13). He was quick to strengthen ‘’the exposed places.’’ I think he showed great wisdom in ‘’posting them by families.’’ There would no doubt be encouragement in fighting alongside your nearest and dearest. But there would also be significant incentive to fight (see the second half of verse 14). How people would fight to defend their families and homes. Nehemiah was canny;
- He kept vigilant: ‘’After I looked things over…’’ As we might say, he ‘kept his eye on the ball.’ He kept the big picture in mind. His decisions were made thoughtfully, carefully, with a full grasp of the details. But they were also made in faith;
- He exhorted the people. He gave verbal challenge and encouragement. He called the people to ‘’Remember’’ God in all His awesome greatness. But this would not be an excuse for failing to do what they needed to do. ‘Those that with an eye of faith see the church’s God to be great and terrible will see the church’s enemies to be mean and despicable. The reigning fear of God is the best antidote against the ensnaring fear of man.’ Matthew Henry.
It will be stating the obvious to say that God did not let them down! (15). But I say it anyway. Someone may especially need reminding today that the Lord will never fail or forsake His own.
PRAYER: Lord God, so often in life I find myself looking up at mountains which cast gigantic shadows over my life. At times I can almost despair of them moving. But I thank you that today you have reminded that me they can be moved the same old way – by faith in you. I am deeply grateful.