Our study this week has been in the book of Nehemiah. God had given Nehemiah the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Babylonians. In Chapter 4, beginning in verse 1, there were a couple of people who didn't like the Jews. One of the men, Sanballat became angry when he heard what they were doing. He ridiculed them and asked, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from these heaps of rubble- burned as they are?" Then Tobiah the Ammonite said "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" How often do you hear those same kinds of discouraging questions about what God has called you to do? Most of the time, those questions don't come from people, but from the thoughts that are the arrows from the Devil. (See Photo: Excavated portion of the wall in Jerusalem from the first Temple period from 1000-586 B.C.)
Nehemiah was constantly being attacked by his enemies with words of doubt. Nehemiah's enemies had all plotted to fight against them and stir up trouble. Then the people of Judah became discouraged and began to doubt that they could rebuild the wall. They were afraid of being attacked. In verse 9, Nehemiah prayed to God and posted guards day and night to meet this threat. He stationed people everywhere with swords, spears and bows to protect every person and family. Nehemiah trusted that God would fight for each person. In verses 15-18 says, "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 his own work. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me." Verse 23 says "Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water."
When I read the words "sword and weapon", I immediately thought of the Spiritual armor. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17) Even the word "sword" has the word "word" in it as a reminder. I suppose we should call it the sWord of the Spirit. If we can get the Word of God into our hearts so that, like those men, we have it by our side at all times. Ready to be spoken at the moment of a surprise attack!
In chapter 6 verse 2 it says that Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab were scheming to harm Nehemiah. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to take our stand against the Devil's schemes. One of the dictionary definitions is "an underhand plot." That is what these men were trying to do to discourage Nehemiah from completing the task he'd been given. Our enemy, the Devil is always scheming against us.
Nehemiah didn't fall prey to those "lions" who were trying to devour him. Instead he replied to them in verses 8 & 9 by saying "Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head." They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.' " Instead Nehemiah spoke back by praying "Now strengthen my hands." He didn't ask God to make them go away, or to kill them, he asked God for strength.
I wonder how our circumstances would turn out if we asked God to give us strength instead of making it go away. I'm guilty of praying that. Our human nature doesn't like to suffer or deal with difficult things so we usually pray, God heal me, provide for me, or make that difficult person go away. I wonder what would happen if we prayed, "Father give me strength to endure this sickness, give me wisdom in this financial bind or show me how to lead that difficult person to You."
At the end of chapter 6, the wall is finally completed. It took them fifty-two days to get the job done. Nehemiah realized that his enemies had even sent prophets to discourage him. Sometimes our own brothers and sisters in the Lord are used by the enemy to attack us. That is why it is important to know what God is saying to you personally.
On the other hand, notice that Nehemiah split the people in half. Half of them were workers and the other half were warriors. Some to do the job and the others to keep watch. We who are followers of Jesus need to watch out for each other. If we are armed with the Word then when our brothers and sisters in Christ become discouraged, we can help them press through and vice versa. In the end the job was done and I'm sure Nehemiah was relieved yet even more confident in God's Word. Verse 16 says, "When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God."
Ask yourself these questions. How is Satan discouraging you from the promises of God? Do you recognize his schemes yet? How are you fighting back? Are you fighting out of fear or faith? Lastly, are you possibly being used like those prophets to speak discouragement to other brothers and sisters in the Lord? Or are you one who is on "watch"? The Bible is clear about building one another up. I would take some time to write down some areas that you believe the enemy is scheming against you and thwart his effort. Conquering the battle is exposing the enemy's plan. God's plan is for us to be victorious. All we have to do is say, "God give me strength to endure" and He will!