This recent post by Brian Allenby focussing on Nehemiah I felt worth sharing:
Christians at Work
Saturday 26th September 2015
(Sent from Bricket Wood, Herts)
WORD ON WORK
WORKERS AND WARRIORS 5…
‘The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.’ Napoleon Bonaparte
Fear (Nehemiah 4:11-23)
The Jews who lived in the outlying villages kept bringing a report to the city that the enemy was planning another surprise attack. Whether these Jews were merely spreading rumours or helping to promote a conspiracy we don’t know; but they told the story repeatedly. Nehemiah didn’t respond immediately and probably was praying for God’s guidance. He himself was not afraid of the enemy; but when he saw that his people were starting to become afraid, he began to act.
“Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.” Why? Because fear paralyzes you, and fear is contagious and paralyzes others. Fear and faith cannot live together in the same heart. The Lord himself said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26) Frightened people discourage others and help bring about defeat.
Nehemiah’s first step was to post guards at the most conspicuous and vulnerable places on the wall. The enemy could then see that the Jews were prepared to fight. He armed entire families, knowing that they would stand together and encourage one another. The Jews not only repaired the walls near their own houses (Nehemiah 3:28-30), but they stood with their families to protect their homes and their city.
After looking the situation over, Nehemiah then encouraged the people not to be afraid but to look to the Lord for help. If we fear the Lord, we need not fear the enemy. Nehemiah’s heart was captivated by the “great and terrible” God of Israel (4:14; see 1:5), and he knew that God was strong enough to meet the challenge. He also reminded the people that they were fighting for their nation, their city, and their families. If the nation was destroyed, what would become of God’s great promises to Israel and His plan of redemption?
When we face a situation that creates fear in our hearts, we must remind ourselves of the greatness of God. If we walk by sight and view God through the problems, we will fail, as did the Jews at Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 13:26-33). But if we look at the problem through the greatness of God, we will have confidence and succeed. That was the approach David took when he faced Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-47).
When the enemy learned that Jerusalem was armed and ready, they backed off (Nehemiah 4:15). God had frustrated their plot. “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:10-11, NKJV). It is good to remind ourselves that the will of God comes from the heart of God and that we need not be afraid.
Nehemiah knew that he couldn’t interrupt the work every time he heard a new rumour, so he set up a defence plan that solved the problem: half of the men worked on the wall while the other half stood guard. He saw to it that the people carrying materials also carried weapons and that the workers on the walls carried swords. In this way, the work would not be interrupted, and the workers would be ready in case of an alarm. The man with the trumpet stayed close to Nehemiah so the alarm could be given immediately. The people were prepared to fight, but they realized that it was God who fought with them and He alone could give the victory.
When Charles Spurgeon started his church magazine in 1865, he borrowed the title from Nehemiah and called the publication The Sword and Trowel. He said it was “a record of combat with sin and labour for the Lord.” It is not enough to build the wall; we must also be on guard lest the enemy take it from us. Building and battling are both a normal part of the Christian life if we are faithful disciples.
Again, Nehemiah spoke words of encouragement to the people (Nehemiah 4:19-20, NKJV) “Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, ‘The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.'” He reminded them that they were involved in a great work. After all, they were serving a great God and rebuilding the walls of a great city. He also reminded them that they were not working alone, even though they couldn’t see all of their fellow workers on the wall. God was with all of them and would come to their defence.
No matter what the workers were doing, or where they laboured on the wall, they all kept an ear open for the sound of the trumpet. What an example for us to follow as we await the return of the Lord! “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Nehemiah also instituted a “second shift” and required the workers from the other towns to stay in Jerusalem at night and help guard the city. It is often while we sleep that the enemy does his most insidious work, and we must be on guard.
Nehemiah not only organized the workers and guards and encouraged them to trust the Lord, but he also set the right kind of example before them. He was a leader who served and a servant who led. He stayed on the job and was alert at all times. He inspected the city’s defences every night and made sure that the guards were on duty.
The late Alan Redpath explained why the Jews succeeded in getting their work done and keeping the enemy at bay: The people had a mind to work (v. 6), a heart to pray (v. 9), an eye to watch (v. 9), and an ear to hear (v. 20); and this gave them the victory
They also had a godly leader with the faith to stand.
I conclude again with the same verse from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 58…
‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’
Brian Allenby (With acknowledgement to Warren W Weirsbe & H A Ironside)