The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!
The Boy Scouts have a motto… “Be Prepared.” Perhaps we could take their advice to heart as well. When it comes to spiritual warfare, both personally and regarding our families, one of our biggest enemies is the tendency to drop our guard. Professional boxers end up taking one on the chin when they drop their guard, and we too, as soldiers for Christ, end up taking hits when we ease up on our vigilance.
Nehemiah 4 gives us some great insight into spiritual warfare. Sanballat couldn’t give us a better picture of the heart, mindset, and scheming of our adversary if he tried. Take a few minutes to read the chapter.
In verse1, Sanballat hears of the construction project. he becomes furious, indignant, and mocking. Does this not picture how our enemy must be, and has certainly demonstrated that he is, whenever God begins to do a work in our lives? Like Sanballat, his agents become angry with what we are doing. The only reason for his anger was that the Israelites would be better defended and therefore less at his mercy than before.
“What? You’re going to home school? What about your kid’s education?” (Gee! Thanks for indirectly calling me ignorant too!) “What about their socialization?” (Now my kids are going to be ignorant, rude, and uncivilized savages?) We have all heard the arguments, and many of them come from well-meaning friends who are simply under the misguided impression that we have, at last, taken complete leave of our senses. If we stop for a moment to analyze it, is there really any difference between Sanballat and Co.’s reaction to the wall and what we experience when we choose to buck the system and home school, or enact anything else that God calls us to for that matter?
Nehemiah’s reaction is immediate – prayer – mindful of who is really being reproached and provoked. We would pray that the same would be said of us, namely that we take things to the Lord first. Nehemiah’s first course of action is prayer, but then he began to build anyway, and so should we.
Verse 7 takes up the mind of the opposition again. Nehemiah and crew are rebuilding, the spots in Jerusalem’s defense are beginning to be filled in, and the Sanballat gang becomes even angrier, “and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion (emphasis mine).” In verse 11 we read, “They will neither know nor see anything, ’til we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” Basically the idea is, “They won’t know what hit them.” Doesn’t this sound familiar? God calls us to some action, area of service, or conviction, and immediately the enemy tries to dissuade us from acting on it in the first place. When that fails, as hopefully it should, he then kicks it up a notch, moving from chaos and confusion into actual danger, a credible threat at the least, with the desire to put an end to what God wants to accomplish.
Jesus reminds us in John 10:10 that the enemy has only one basic goal – to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, We are often able to identify with the Jews in this account. Every time we turn around, we are getting hit, or threatened by possible hits.
Nehemiah stationed men, armed to the teeth, at all the weak spots in the wall, each defending his own family. Could the stakes be any higher? Looking at what the enemy wants to do to the next generation in our society, I am convinced that like those men, we have been positioned to stand in those gaps and fight for the defense of our kids. Nehemiah’s words are just as accurate today for what we must do – “remember the Lord ,great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
The immediate result was that their enemies saw that they would not be taken in, and that it was God who had brought the plot to nothing; resulting in the continuation of His work. Just like Sanballat, our adversary knows when he is beaten, and will pull back. Also like Sanballat, it is usually only for the purpose of trying another tactic. Nehemiah continued to plan for the future, implementing not only a strategy for defense and the construction project to continue, but also a system by which the Jews were able to rally to each other’s aid when one might come under attack.
They had each other’s backs, and so should we. Nehemiah also instructed the men, himself included, to always be on guard. By always being dressed for battle, there would be little time needed to gear up; instead, they were prepared to act at a moment’s notice.
We need to be prepared for spiritual battle at all times. The enemy does not fight by the Marquess of Queensberry rules. He does not send out notice of his intent to attack, and thinks nothing of hitting when our backs are turned. In fact, if he can get us looking in any other direction than where the real attack is coming from he is happy, as he is more likely to score a blow we are not prepared to block.
Like Nehemiah, we are called to a project, the disciplining of our children. If you are a Believer, and you have children, then the command is in effect and cannot be denied. Whether the walls we are instructed to build are physical or spiritual, the truth is that God has commissioned us as builders, soldiers, and teachers to raise up a generation that knows both the Lord and the things which He has done; to be vigilant in our guard, protecting those who are not yet able to stand in their own defense; and to come alongside each other as we fight for a common goal. Like Sanballat, our adversary is relentless, angry, and cunning; but as with Nehemiah, our God is able to bring Satan’s strategies to naught.
One of my favorite movies is “Facing the Giants.” In one scene, the coach tells his team’s defense, “Build me a wall.”
May we build ours like Nehemiah.