Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah 4:  Be On Guard

Nehemiah 4: 1 : “When Sanballat heard the Jews were rebuilding the wall- he became angry and greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews..” Why was he angry?  If Sanballat represents the enemy of the Jews, God’s people, he represents, spiritually the enemy our soul that wants to keep us weak and discouraged. To make us feel we cannot overcome the sin that enslaves us. Practically speaking a strengthened Jerusalem and an organized and fortified Jewish people were a threat to the enemy’s domination of the area and people. It was a threat to their power and wealth.

So when things are beginning to go well- be on guard. The enemy will become angered and incensed. A strong, organized, fortified Jewish people were a problem . Weak, lukewarm and only religious, they represented no threat, just as many of God’s people do not here in the 21st century.

When we get serious about  doing God’s Kingdom work, the  enemy will begin to attack. Paul tells us we are not to be ignorant of the enemy’s strategy and tactics.  Today we will look at one of those strategies and see how we should respond. We will also see how the enemy’s attack will escalate.

The enemy will first use ridicule to intimidate the Jews.  To ridicule means to make fun of- to laugh at a person or group.  People who are physically strong, brave and courageous can collapse when someone makes fun of them and causes others to laugh at them. It makes one doubt himself or herself- embarrassed and made to feel foolish- it can have the effect of discouraging one from going on with the task at hand.

The enemy ridiculed in the following areas:

Ridiculed the Jews as workers- feeble- weak. Lacked the physical strength to do this demanding task. But the Lord tells us His strength is made perfect in weakness. (Paul realized when I am weak, I am strong.)

Ridiculed the work itself- fortify themselves? Offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? But again the Word of God tells us we can be confident that He (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Ridiculed the materials- rubble, ruins, burned stones   But God ‘ chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Ridiculed the finished product- said the wall would not support the weight of a fox. But our foundation is built on the Word of God, His promises, His person, His provision and the Lord Jesus is the very cornerstone. His Word stands forever.

These taunts from Sanballat and Tobiah represents the human point of view that does not take into account the supernatural power of Almighty God.  It looks at it from the standpoint of these are weak people- who cannot do this work; cannot finish it with these inferior materials and if they do- the finished product will be so poorly built – the wall would not support the weight of one fox.

Nehemiah’s response: said nothing to enemy- spoke to God . He prayed and he prepared.

He prayed and he posted guards. This is what we are to do— pray and prepare and be on guard.

The war of words is powerful. Words can build up or tear down.  Words can hurt and words can heal. Words can create hope or bring discouragement. Words can cause fear or bring peace. The enemy is cunning and will look for the area of weakness, where one is vulnerable. He looks for the  gate that is not secure, not guarded and the wall that is low or in disrepair and that is where he launches his attack. The enemy  makes one look at the problem without the resources of God. When you take God out of the equation- you do have a problem. But when God is added  to the equation- the problem will be solved.  We must supply our part of the equation- pray + prepare. God will supply His part.  The words that are launched to ridicule have as their target the mind.

The mind is the battlefield. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10: The weapons we have are not carnal, but mighty to pulling down of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every THOUGHT to make it obedient to Christ. Then Paul reminds us of something very important: “ you are looking only on the surface of things. “ {Isn’t that what we tend to do?  Look only on the surface of things.}

What the enemy did not realize, – they were not mocking and opposing the Jews only- they were mocking and opposing God . KJV says –‘ they provoked YOU,God. ‘

Goliath the champion warrior for the Philistine army was an imposing figure physically. Over 9 feet tall, his armor weighed over 125 lbs.  His weapons were awesome and he appeared invincible. He challenged the army of Israel under King Saul to send someone to fight him. This giant said: “ This day I defy the ranks of  Israel.” And we are told in I Samuel 17: “ On hearing the Philistine’s  WORDS,  Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified”. Words and an imposing giant of an enemy had its desired  effect.  They were discouraged and dismayed and terrified. But David- said to Goliath.  “ you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. The Lord will hand you over to me , and I will strike you down and cut off your head…. All those gathered will know that is not by the sword or the spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.” (I Samuel 17)

Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s words and taunts had their desired effect, verse 10 tells us:  “ Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

Know this- when you begin to rebuild what has fallen into disrepair, to take back lost ground the enemy has acquired, the enemy will launch an attack. The goal is to discourage the people to make them feel  it is impossible, the task is too great, the materials are not sufficient, and the people are weak.

Pray and prepare- means arm yourselves with weapons we have that are mighty, have divine power These divine weapons are the Word of God and prayer plus the armor He has provided. Not only do we arm ourselves- we also set a guard over the areas of weakness.  What is your area of weakness? Where is your wall of resistance low, your gates in need of repair? You probably know, it is that sin that so easily besets you.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you guard against this area and give you the divine weapon to protect yourself and send the enemy fleeing. Not only would Nehemiah post armed guards, many of the workers armed themselves and carried a sword while they worked.

Charles Spurgeon had a newsletter/bulletin he published in his church called:  The Sword and Trowel.( A mason’s trowel is a hand held tool used to smooth and spread mortar when laying brick or stone.)  The name was derived from Nehemiah.  This title gives us a word picture of how we must be ready for battle when we are building the Kingdom of God.

Pray and be prepare. Take up your Sword, the Word of God and your Trowel which represents the tool or talent the Lord has given you to do  the ministry work the Lord has for you. Then take your place upon the wall.

Watch and pray. Be on Guard.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14