Keep Fighting

Things hadn’t been going well for some time. Israel’s heyday was a distant memory. No one alive had seen the temple, palace, or even the wall that once surrounded Jerusalem, the great city. It had been a very difficult 150 years since Babylon conquered and deported most of the nation. Along comes Nehemiah, he knows the importance of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. The story is told in Nehemiah 4.

But when the rebuilding begins, so does the opposition. Non-believing locals are angry and incensed and ridicule the faithful’s efforts (v. 1). They taunt: “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 those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” (v. 2). Then they taunt some more: “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (v. 3). And when that doesn’t work, they threaten: “They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it” (v. 8).

Things haven’t been going so well for the church, as of late, either. Inside the church’s walls, the numbers of those who adhere to the authority of Scripture and subscribe to a biblical worldview are trending downward. And outside the church’s walls, the culture war seems lost.

Israel was losing strength and faith, too. Discouraged, they admitted to themselves: “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall” (v. 9). Nehemiah was quick to respond; asking his brothers and sisters to remember something they appeared to have forgotten: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, Who is great and awesome…” And then this: “Fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (v. 14).

When we look around and are discouraged, we need to remember something very important about the God we serve: “He is great and awesome.” We may be weary and feeling defeated, but He isn’t. When we remember who we belong to, picking up the sword we dropped makes sense. For we fight for the honor of our God and His Word, we fight for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; and though not understood, we fight for our opposition—doing so in the name of love—that they, too, one day will worship our great and awesome God.

Jerusalem’s wall would be rebuilt; and much faster than expected: “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days” (6:15). This was not lost upon those who wished God’s people trouble and ill will: “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” (6:16). May our enemies, who we love, soon realize the same.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

February 7, 2013

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