Enemy Attack
Nehemiah 4

 

1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 

2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish--stones that are burned?" 

3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall." 

4 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! 

5 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. 

6 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. 

7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 

8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 

9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. 

10 Then Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall." 

11 And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease." 

12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, "From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us." 

13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 

14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." 

15 And it happened, 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. 

16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 

17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 

18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 

19 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. 

20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." 

21 So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. 

22 At the same time I also said to the people, "Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day." 

23 So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.

 

In our last lesson, in Nehemiah Ch2, we likened the repairing of the walls of the city, to the building of the “The city set on a hill”, the Body of Christ. When believers become active, when prayer results in mobilization, the enemies of God are disturbed and riled up to action against the work of God.

We read in ou text that when Sanballat heard that there was a plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he was furious and most indignant.
Again it is useful to mention that Satan doesn’t mind us praying as long as it does not result in action.
He is not concerned about a full church but is concerned when a full church begins to work for the Lord.


1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 
2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish--stones that are burned?" 


Sometimes all it needs for the enemies of Christ to stop the work of God, is ridicule and mockery.
It usually is the first point of attack.


These feeble Jews”. It was Freud who said that Christianity is a crutch for weak and poor people and Karl Marx called it the opiate of the masses.
Christians are seen as weak and feeble in our day as well by modern day Sanballat’s, people like Richard Dawkins and others like him.

Will they fortify themselves?” They say Christianity is weak and powerless to change society.
“Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish”?
They mock, 2000 years of religion and the world is getting worse.



2 Peter 3:3-4 Know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."

Nehemiah 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, "What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"


No one likes being the object of ridicule, being laughed at and mocked, or being thought to be a fool and so the easiest thing to do is hide, to keep quiet, many Christians shrink at the thought of standing up for the Gospel publicly.
It is not an easy thing to do to testify openly for Christ, especially in your own home or town, where people knew who and what you were before you became a Christian.
I remember when I was first saved, standing on the open air service on the local market square, skulking at the back of the crowd because of passers by who knew me from my work place and thinking “what an hypocrite I was. I was fearful and embarrassed.
This was before I knew anything about the work of the Holy Spirit and how we are to rely on His power and not our own.


The disciples of Jesus felt just the same, hiding away in an upper room for fear of the Jews.
But things changed when they were filled with the Holy Spirit and allowed Him flow through them.


Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

However, It is not just the sharing of the Gospel but it is standing up for truth and morality. Standing up for the teaching’s of the Bible. Many Christian’s, because of fear, fail to speak out when in fact the situation demands it. It is far easier to go with the flow than to swim upstream. Or simply stay silent.
When you are going against the majority it is easy to get buffeted. At this, many Christians give up and settle for a quiet existence. Just attending church but not standing up for Christ in the world.
However, this is not fulfilling our commission from Christ.

There are many verses in scripture that exhorts us to stand firm in the Gospel.


Ephesians 6:11"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."
1 Corinthians 15:58 "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."
Philippians 1:27"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
1 Corinthians 16:13"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."


We should always be ready to give an account of what we believe and to stand up for the truth of the Bible.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

We are not told in scripture that following Jesus will be an easy route to take, in fact we are told the opposite.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.


However, we have the promise that God will be with us in our work for Him.

This is what Nehemiah told the people in chapter
2, 20 So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us;

Sanballat called the Jews feeble, saying that they have no chance of success, but the Jews had a leader who believed in prayer and the power of God and he encouraged them to take up the challenge.

Of course we must go on, we are called to give an account of our faith in Christ. We are told not to hide our light under a bushel and we must encourage each other in the work of the Lord.
We are the light of the world.


Matt 5:15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
 

God has promised us victory and so we must go forward in faith believing, in spite of the ridicule, the scorn and the mockery. We are not to be discouraged because of what the world throws at us.
 

Discouragement is a weapon for the enemy, because it is the opposite of faith. Where faith believes God and His love and promises, discouragement looks for and believes the worst and tends to forget about who God is and what He has promised to do.

Hebrews 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

 

Our strength to go on is not in ourselves but the strength of the Lord. The first place we should go when persecution comes is to God. He is our strength.
This is where Nehemiah went straight away. For Nehemiah, prayer was a first resource, not a last resort. 
Sometimes for Christians we have a grumble first and try to deal with the situation ourselves, sometimes we shrink into ourselves and as a last resort, we turn to prayer.
Nehemiah sees prayer as a weapon against the ridicule and persecution.

 

4 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! 


Nehemiah was saying, “Lord, you know the situation, Lord, step in to our situation and turn it to good”.
Nehemiah had the same God as we do and God gives the same promises.


Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
 

He was asking, “Lord, step in on our behalf and fight the battle for us”
Nehemiah trusted that God would be on their side.
God answered Nehemiah in the same way He answers all His people.

 

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.


The same promises apply to us today.

Heb 13:6  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 


Nehemiah prayed: “turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 
 

This kind of prayer may seem wrong to us, knowing such scriptures as, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you and do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you”.

However, it is not wrong to hand your enemies and opponents over to the Lord. It is not a case of praying that bad things will happen to them but that God will deal with them in His way, for He knows exactly how to act.

Having committed this problem to God, the people continued with the work on the walls and completed the joining up of the gates and the wall to half its height.


6 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. 

God gave the people the mind to work and this is when the enemy is activated even more. With the prayers and encouragement of Nehemiah, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

This action aggravated the enemies even more and they moved on from simply verbal abuse, to physical action.
 

7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 

8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 

10 Then Judah said, "The strength of the labourers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall." 

11 And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease." 

12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, "From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us." 


Notice, the attack did not happen, sometimes the mere threat of attack does the trick. However, the plan was also to create confusion amongst the people of God. This has always been one of the tactics of Satan in the church. A confused people cannot move forward, because confusion distracts from the work.
This again is where strong leadership is needed. Good shepherds recognise the false sheep within and without the fellowship and guard and encourage believers.

We see that the attack wasn’t just from the outside but also from within.
This is the worst kind of attack, commonly known as fifth column tactics, rumours and dissent from within the ranks, this causes confusion and fear. This kind of attack has split many fellowships over the years.
The idea is to divide and conquer. Setting one, against another. This usually comes through whisperings and murmurings, mistrust and not having the mind to work.

"The strength of the labourers is failing, This is a crucial point in the work of God, half way. Sometimes, people get disheartened, they get fed up, they lack what is needed to plod on and so need even more encouragement.


V8 and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall." 
 

We need to get rid of the rubbish, to continue building, we need to get rid of anything that can stop the work of the Lord. This is essential, whatever presents itself, we need to deal with it or it will hold us back.
If there are problems in a fellowship, they need to be dealt with. If left breeding, they will certainly cause division.


13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 

14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." 
 

Whilst it is good and right that we bring our concerns and fears to the Lord, just to pray is not enough, we must act as well.
This is where our strength comes from, joining together in prayer and study of the word and fellowship, encouraging each other, confessing our sins to one another, sorting out our differences and holding each other up in prayer. Those with influence in the fellowship, should use that influence to encourage and build up in the faith. The stronger ones help the weaker ones. Sharing testimony of the Lords goodness and keeping power.

When the enemy sees that we are strong in the Lord and that we stand together, united, he shrinks back.


15 And it happened, 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.

This is where the body is working together, each with their own ministry, there were those that worked and there were those that guarded.
There are those who pray, upholding those in the field, there are those that encourage, there are those that serve and those that work.


16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armour; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 

17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 

18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 

Whatever it is we are doing for the Lord, we all need to be prayerful, vigilant and armed.
To ward off the attacks of Satan we need prayer and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

 This is how we can detect the evil work of Satan and his false prophets that would cause division and disharmony amongst us.

19 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. 


We must always strive to be of one mind. We must keep in contact with each other. The way that Satan works is separating a lone sheep. That is why it is so important that we watch out for each other and if we see any of the brethren wandering away, we need to warn them of the dangers of the false teachers, the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
We are living in perilous times, when Satan is very active in the evangelical churches, He tried to stop the first coming of the Lord Jesus and now he is active in trying to mar the return of Jesus.
We must stand together in the work of God. We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge of the Word of God and be being filled daily, with the Holy Spirit.

 

Eph 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 


I like the translation from the Jewish Bible.

Eph 5: 18 Don’t get drunk with wine, because it makes you lose control. Instead, keep on being filled with the Spirit.

Keep on being filled, keeping short accounts with God, confession, repentance, prayer and being filled with the Spirit.
This is where the Power to be witnesses comes from.

Stand firm, resist the Sanballat’s, the Goliath’s


Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

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