Nehemiah 4:16-23

I.                  Nehemiah 4:16-23, Our God will fight for us

II.               Introduction

A.                Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD.”

B.                We are to have our horses already prepared for the day of battle, but when the battle comes our deliverance shouldn’t be credited to our preparation but to the LORD. Our God will fight for us because He promises He will, that does not mean we skip out on our preparation. That is not God’s intention for those of his children who are mature. He could deliver in the day of battle without our horse being prepared, and many times out of mercy and love He will, but He would rather teach us how to fight through the use of the battle itself.

C.                In the next section of Nehemiah 4 you see that Nehemiah very tactically and strategically puts defensive measures into place. The key verse though of this section is found in verse 20 “…Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah was not trying to replace faith in God by ordering defensive measures, instead he was attempting to encourage it. Nehemiah was a very spiritual man, so spiritual that his spirituality transcended into reality.

1.                 True spirituality and true faith will have actions that follow in the real world. If I really love my neighbor I will do something to help them when they are in need. Nehemiah knew God would fight for them, so much so that he readied God’s army and God’s army was readied knowing that He would fight for them.

III.           4:14-18, Diligent in Victory as in Conflict

A.                V14, Review. Nehemiah looked around, he made his plans after he looked. Then he inspires the people by encouraging them to remember who fights for them, the great and awesome God of the universe (awesome can be translated terrible, in the Hebrew it means to be feared, to be in awe of, to be dreadful, cause astonishment, to inspire reverence). The awesomeness of God would inspire godly reverence in Israel, while the terribleness of God would cause the enemy to cower and fear.

B.                V15, Review. God brought there plot to nothing. They go back to the work.

C.                V16, Nehemiah decides to take this moment of peace and victory and establish security measures. This shows an extreme amount of prudence, since at the moment the plans of the enemy had be brought to nothing. Once we deal with a problem we should take measures to insure that it won’t be a problem again in the future.

1.                 He gives half of his personal servants as full time guards. They are well armed, with spears, shields, and bows in comparison to the times of David when only Saul and Jonathan had a sword and the rest had to fight with whatever they could find. This is a well-armed militia.

2.                 Tactically wise, Nehemiah places the officers behind the house of Judah. Your leadership must always be the most protected against the enemy, if your leadership falls so does your army. As Christians we need to watch the back of our leaders, even placing ourselves in front of them when needed. If we see a problem try to deal with it before it has to get to the leadership level. For example, if you see someone gossiping it would be best to say something against it or at the very least leave the conversation. Keep your leaders in prayer.

D.                V17, Nehemiah organizes his workforce into three different groups. Full time guards (half of his own personal servants), burden carriers, and builders on the wall. The ones who carried burdens would have to be the most ready to fight since it is possible they would have to go outside of the wall to bring in materials, they would have to carry their burden in one hand and hold their weapon in the other.

E.                V18, The builders worked on the wall itself, they would need both of their hands to do so and would be in relatively more safety then the burden carriers. They kept their sword closely at their side though. Everyone, guards, servants, laborers, and builders were armed in order to turn a militia into an army at a moment’s notice.

1.                 Nehemiah also kept a trumpeter at his side at all times. He was thinking ahead even though the immediate danger had already passed. We should do the same. Some of our greatest failures come after our greatest victories; we must be diligent in times of combat against our flesh, the devil and the temptations of this world as well as diligent in times of victory.

2.                 “The kingdom of God is built with both a sword and a trowel, a sword to come against every spiritual force of wickedness in high places, and trowel to do the work of building up the people of God.” –David Guzik, Nehemiah 4 Study Guide.

IV.            V19-20, Our God will fight for us.

A.                V19, Nehemiah informs his leadership of their predicament, that they are spread very thin on the wall. Tactically speaking this is very dangerous, since in there is strength in numbers. It is noted that he tells the nobles, the rulers first, but then he also informs the rest of the people. It is very clear here that Nehemiah wanted everyone to know his plan and everyone to know the danger they were still in.

1.                 “The work is extensive” They still had a lot of work to do, this wasn’t over yet and Nehemiah was anticipating that their enemies were not going to give up.

B.                V20, Nehemiah informs them of his plan, that no matter where you are on the wall if you hear the trumpeter rally together there. Nehemiah always had his trumpeter with him, and that was that guys one single job, to always be ready to sound the alarm. Even though they had put plenty of preparation into this and organization, their trust was still to be in God. It would be an encouragement to the weary Jews that God would do the fighting as He had done so many times for their ancestors, they just had to show up to the battle.

1.                Communication is essential in an army. It is also essential in a church body.

C.                Application: We can learn a lot from this. Everyone in the workforce of Nehemiah was also a warrior, but everyone had their place and had their role and job to do. We should learn what our place is in the body of Christ, and work on that part of the wall of the Kingdom of Heaven. When conflict comes though, we should be ready to rally together and fight as one. A church should be a well-organized workforce, united in purpose and yet willing to drop all to defend one another from an outside foe at any given moment. Fearing God in a respectful manner will allow us to do this, because when we fear God we submit to Him and are willing to work in the place He gives us. In the end, we must never allow our organization to replace our trust in God. It is still God who fights for us, He just desires for us to do our part. The credit should always go to Him.

V.                V21-23, Setting the Example

A.                V21, Here is where some confusion for me comes in. It says that half of the men stood guard while half of the men worked. Does that mean it was not only Nehemiah’s servants who did this? But that everyone took guard shifts while the other half worked? It is possible, all that we need to know though is that part of the workforce stood guard all day, while another part worked all day until night. This could have been unpopular in two ways:

1.                 People could have complained that the danger was already passed and that this was only slowing down the completion of the wall. With half their workers standing guard that meant the wall was going to be constructed in half the time it could have been.

2.                 They worked from daybreak to night time, which meant they would be skipping their normal custom of siestas. They were being worked very hard and with limited numbers.

3.                 Despite the possibility of making an unpopular decision, Nehemiah does what is the safest for everyone.

B.                V22, Nehemiah asks men who live outside of the city (remember not everyone who worked on the wall was from Jerusalem) if they and their servant would sleep in Jerusalem until the wall is built. This would mean that if they were attacked at night they could be woken and could bolster the guard.

1.                 This could have also been an unpopular decision, but it was what was right and safest for everyone. Drastic times calls for drastic measures. We need strong leaders to do what is right, even if it is not popular.

C.                V23, Nehemiah’s party set the example. His brethren were his direct relatives. His servants were already mentioned as making up half the full time guard. The men of the guard were his Persian bodyguard, given to him as a government official. Nehemiah and his party set the example of always being ready, never taking their clothes off except for washing. This could have been talking about ceremonial washing or just washing to cleanliness, either way they slept in their cloths to be battle ready. In the ESV it adds “each kept his weapon at his right hands” and the foot-notes read “each his weapon the water”. So although they took off their clothes to wash, what was still in their right hand? Their weapons. There was never a moment where they were not holding their weapons.

D.                A: This shows constant diligence against the enemy, even in a time of relative peace. As Christians we are told in 1 Peter 5:8-10 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may [fn] the God of all grace, who called us [fn] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle [you].”

1.                 We are in a very real spiritual battle against the adversary. And he is on the prowl, looking for weak spots in our wall. We must be vigilant as Nehemiah was, in times of victory as well as in times of coming conflict. Resist the devil steadfast in the faith, knowing you’re not alone in this battle. All of us are going through the same battle as Christians, but it is only for a while. Jesus Christ will strengthen and settle you, you just have to hang in there and let our God fight for you.

2.                 Keep your sword always close at a hand, the word of God. Eph. 6:17 It is good for both offensive and defensive. Offensively we can use the word of God to remind ourselves of the promises of God and take ground. For example, we know that we are called to tell others about Jesus and we are told that God will be with us where ever we go as we do so, this should be used offensively in prayer when we want to witness to someone. Defensively, Hebrews 4:12 tells us that we can use the sword of the word to battle our own flesh. Reading it and meditating in it will reveal to us the thoughts and intents of our hearts, showing us what we need to repent of.

VI.            Conclusion

A.                Preparation is Biblical, but we must trust the Lord to be the one to deliver us through times of trial, temptations and tribulations.

B.                When the battle comes, the victory belongs to the Lord but that does not excuse us from being diligent against the enemy. Organization is key for preparation. We must all find our place and calling in the body of Christ and work in this area, working together separately but in unity, ready to drop all and come together to defend one another when necessary. This is what Church Services is for, to rally together for strength… then after we have been strengthened we go back to work on our parts of the wall.

C.                Good Christian leaders must set the example, being the most ready to fight of anyone and always keeping their sword in hand at all times. It’s not just Christian leaders that should do this though, all of us must since we all have an adversary who is prowling about looking for weak spots in our wall.

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