God never promises that we will experience easy times, never encountering resistance; after all we are in the midst of the most significant war in history. In this war, the soul of every man and woman hang in the balance. I’m not sure I even understand the scale of this war. It is a war that’s ending is already known, but every single man and woman on this earth has a choice…to follow the ways of Christ and submit to His Lordship or follow the ways of the world and submit to its lordship. To either experience freedom…or bondage. I believe Nehemiah understood this war. His choice to take the resistance he encountered to the Lord, seek His wisdom, then take action, is a clear identifier that he understood. (For a better understanding of the personal battle we face, especially as believers in the western world, please read Killing Kryptonite, by John Bevere).
Nehemiah had a few people who were relentless in their pursuit of making his and the builders of the wall lives completely miserable…Sanballat and Tobiah. I am not sure these two knew it, but the enemy’s goal through them was to prevent the protection of Israel and its people and to ensure they continue to be blended into the world so as to remove their identity in God. Ultimately, his goal was to ensure their soul, in this great war, fell on the side of hell. They harassed Nehemiah and the people rebuilding the wall. And this was Nehemiah’s response:
Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. (Nehemiah 4:4-6)
A couple points I want to make about this passage and what follows in chapter 4 of Nehemiah.
- Nehemiah and the rest of the Jews who were rebuilding the wall were being criticized and threatened. The threat was real and it was physical in nature. At the beginning of the chapter it was noted the Samaritan army was involved and later, Nehemiah and the people took up arms. BUT, in the face of a real and significant threat, Nehemiah’s gut reaction was to pray and seek the Lord FIRST. Nehemiah’s prayer displays the fact he refused to take matters in to his own hands, but instead asked the Lord to deal with the threat. What is your reaction to a threat? Fight or Flight? What about prayer, even in the midst of a threat? All God needs to hear is an open heart and a cry for help…He will respond.
- Nehemiah took action after he sought God’s wisdom, “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night” (Neh 4:9). He charged his men to take up arms and every man had a sword on his side…they built with one arm and defended with the other arm. Nehemiah himself kept a man with a trumpet next to his side, so in the case there was a battle, all parties could gather at the sound. Throughout this ordeal Nehemiah kept encouraging the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome” and “Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah prayed, took action, encouraged his people, and trusted the Lord. The results? “When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work” (Neh 4:15).
James says that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20b); I would suggest that prayer without action is powerless and weak prayer. What kind of faith does it take to sit down and pray for the Lord to build the wall in the middle of all my enemies? None what-so-ever! On the other hand, what kind of faith does it take to seek the Lord, hear His voice, and begin rebuilding the wall under a pagan king, surrounded by people that hate you? SIGNIFICANT FAITH. Now, I want to caution you that action without seeking the Lord is just as foolish…action for the sake of action, success for the sake of success, trying to prove your worth…is simply an idol in the way of the Lordship of Christ and God’s will for your life.
Stop now!!! And ask the Lord where he needs you to take action today. If you are willing to pray that prayer and truly mean it with no exceptions, He will use you in a significant way. Just get ready for the adventure!!!