"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, May 31, 2023


INTRODUCTION: The account of Nehemiah’s prayers for Jerusalem and his people, his petition to the King of Persia, the preparations he made in gathering the necessary materials and finances, as well as the actual rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem and the interior structures, and the completion of the work has been witnessed in these first three chapters. The remarkable names of the workers, and places mentioned and their meanings in Hebrew are greatly significant as they relate to the work of the LORD as we have also seen.

Now in chapter Four, we are backtracking to the work of rebuilding and what happened while the Jews were intent upon their GOD appointed labors. Sanballat and Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites were intent on mocking, discouraging, threatening and a willful attempt to invade the city in order to kill the Jews.

Obviously, Satan and his human agencies will always attack the work of GOD, and the saints who are commissioned to His work. It’s been said that the church that GOD is moving most powerfully in will have among those who attend, Satan himself.

Any work of GOD, including revivals of the saints, will most assuredly have our adversary present in an attempt to “muddy the waters” and cause any effect among GOD’s people to come to nothing. If he hopes to keep his blind, poor slaves within his kingdom of darkness, their chains secured, he must prevent the saints from the holy work of rescuing such lost souls from their slavery.

Yet the LORD Himself told us that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against His church. Gates being defensive are established to prevent the offensive attacks of the enemy. So as the church of Jesus Christ, we are to have an offensive, not a defensive stance in regards to the enemy.

We’ll observe some crucial actions by Nehemiah. His competent examples that we can implement in our own spiritual warfare!

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."

We have seen something like this before with Sanballat in NEH 2:10,19 where he, Tobiah and Geshem were “deeply disturbed” because Nehemiah sought the well-being of the Jews and they despised them. Now that the rebuilding had commenced Sanballat, a Persian government official was “furious and very indignant”, that is to say, he was “burning hot, blazing with anger, grieved, incensed, indignant, provoked, to be troubled”. And he mocked the Jews. The Hebrew word here is la’ag, which means to “deride, derision, laughing [to scorn]”.

He was not alone however – he addressed this problem to his fellow countrymen and to the army of Samaria. He referred to “these feeble Jews” and ridiculed the idea that they would fortify their beloved city and offer sacrifices in a newly built Temple. Tobiah joined in with the ridicule and claimed that the walls would be so weak and ineptly built that a fox could topple them. All these mockers saw was the ruin that lay before them in the heaps of what was once Jerusalem.

This is very much like the enemy who assails us in our minds, or through the mouths of naysayers and opposers of GOD and His work. Mockery and ridicule are powerful weapons that effect discouragement and humiliation for the saints of GOD.

Nehemiah, and likely the leadership represented in Jerusalem heard these words and it’s important to observe how they responded. In light of the vision that GOD gave to Nehemiah, that he shared with the Jews, who caught the vision and became impassioned with seeing Jerusalem restored, they heard these most discouraging words but didn’t respond to these ungodly mockers at all.

They turned to GOD and prayed to Him instead!

When we face opposers and hear words of disdain from the lips of those who have nothing to do with the vision and work of GOD, it’s vital that we not respond in kind, or at the very least, not to answer them before we first speak to the LORD about it all.

A similar situation happened during the days of Hezekiah when Sennacherib of the Assyrian Empire came to claim Jerusalem! This warrior king discouraged the people of Israel from trusting in their GOD, for, as he reminded them all, he prevailed over many nations who implored their gods for protection, and they all failed their worshipers.

Hezekiah encouraged his people to turn a deaf ear to this enemy of YHWH, and trust in the One Who proved faithful to His people in every generation in all the history of the Jews!

For some awesome commentary on these matters, check out David Guzik on 2 CHRONICLES 32!

Nehemiah brings his complaint to the only One Who could truly do something effectively! And He did!

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.

Considering that the LORD leads His children in prayer, that He led Nehemiah to prayer, and then answered those prayers by leading the King of Persia to show favor to him, above and beyond what this man of GOD could have hoped for through his own persuasion – the fact that these men who were intent on stopping the work, essentially is wanting to stop GOD. Not that they ever could – but it would certainly incur the righteous indignation on the LORD’s part.

The same sort of indignation that the kings of the Earth will incur for their obstinance in opposing GOD:
PSALM 2:1-5
1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
If Sanballat had his way, Jerusalem would have been obliterated forever, and yet GOD’s plan is to establish His King on His Holy hill of ZION (PSA 2:6).

We see the same sort of prayer by David in such Psalms:
PSALM 58:6,8,10
6 Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
8 Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes, Like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, (See also PSA 3:7; 35:4; 68:23; 109:14).
As well as Jeremiah’s prayer against the wicked:
Yet, LORD, You know all their counsel Which is against me, to slay me. Provide no atonement for their iniquity, Nor blot out their sin from Your sight; But let them be overthrown before You. Deal thus with them In the time of Your anger (JER 11:20; 15:15).
Notice the difference between the Old Testament relationship with one’s enemies and how the LORD Jesus instructs His followers how to deal with their enemies:
MATTHEW 5:43-48
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ seeking to reconcile His enemies with Him, finding peace with GOD (ROM 5:1) through the redemption of the Cross that dissolves the enmity of rebel souls against their Creator (2 COR 5:20). We are told to love, pray for, bless our enemies, to be gentle as doves, etc.

But then notice how things seem to revert back to an Old Testament M.O. during the time of the tribulation:
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
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.

“…became very angry” as in vehemently, exceedingly, intensely angry, incensed.
One wicked soul alone can fume at the blessings bestowed upon the righteous, but get a band of wicked souls together, and their wrath grows exponentially. Consider the culmination of the wicked wrath of this world under the rule of the beast, the collective sum of all their wrath against the saints of GOD! Persecution will be at an all-time high. The LORD Jesus Himself said concerning the tribulation of those last days (including persecution):
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And what was the cause of this untoward anger from Sanballat, Tobiah and these Arabs and Ammonites and Ashdodites? “The walls of Jerusalem were being restored, gaps were beginning to be closed…” The Jews were no longer the vulnerable, hapless victims that they once were: “easy pickin’s” for them to trample under. Since the walls were rebuilt, the Jewish people were safe, and this caused their enemies to become vehemently outraged.

How typical of Satan to be full of wrath when a P.O.W. of his finds deliverance through Jesus Christ, saved by His shed blood, and has their citizenship transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of our GOD’s dear Son (COL 1:13).
Once in Christ, Satan may attack GOD’s child, but that child is no longer defenseless, being equipped with no armor of some mere man or even angel, but with the very armor of GOD Himself. And though the saint may lose some battles, they are “more than conquerors through” Christ Jesus Who loves them (ROM 8:37) and enjoy the ultimate victory – eternal dwelling with the LORD in the glories of heaven, while Satan is roasting forever in eternal perdition.

Among these enemies of the Jews were the Ashdodites: these were from the region of Palestina and among the pentapolis – one of the five primary cities of these, the chiefest of adversaries that proved to be a constant thorn in Israel’s side, the Philistines!

All of these conspired against the Jews with the intent of attacking the city and cause confusion and chaos, hurt, and hindering. What these poor fellows failed to understand was that their conspiracy was never a secret agenda, but well known by GOD Who knew of it long before it was ever conceived by their mischievous minds! It’s the same with the conspiracy “against the LORD and His anointed” as mentioned in PSALM 2. The effectiveness of such malevolent machinations is laughable to the Almighty!

When our enemies assail us – and we certainly have more than Satan, his principalities, powers, and demons to contend with: we also have this world system, and our own sin nature as well; when these three enemies attack – our able assistance from our allies: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (along with our fellow saints) is just a prayer away.

For a Three Part Video Series Check out THREE ENEMIES: The World, The Flesh, The Devil.

Nehemiah understood this as they called upon the LORD GOD:

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."

Nehemiah and those closest to him observed their enemies conduct, then prayed to GOD, and then they set a continual vigil, a watch against their enemies. We see this constantly with Nehemiah, even from the beginning: he heard from his kin that Jerusalem was in ruins, the gates burned, etc. He then goes into prayer, which in turn led him to action – making request of the king. Assessment, ardent prayer, then action.
There are others who after making assessment, become anxious, leading to inaction, such as the tribe of Judah (“praise of GOD”), whose focus should have been GOD in their worship and praise, but instead they focused on their enemies and on the deplorable condition of the city.

I see a parallel between the physical work of rebuilding the walls and the prayers of these saints, building the spiritual walls of protection around Jerusalem through their intercessions to the LORD Who commissioned this work!

And to make matters worse, the Jews who came into the city had “an evil report” (NUM 13:32) and said no less than ten times, that no matter where they go, the enemy will be there to meet them – talk about your discouraging word!

It’s a temptation to believe our circumstances and our opposers over the Word of our GOD. This is essentially why we must walk by faith (in what GOD has declared in His Word of absolute truth) and not by sight (the circumstances, situations and influences in this fallen world of sin); 2 COR 5:7.

Their enemy declared that they would infiltrate their city and kill them, thus bring the work at an end. GOD spoke differently previously to the governor Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest in the days of the prophet Haggai over 70 years previously regarding the work of rebuilding (not the city of Jerusalem and its walls but) the Temple:
HAGGAI 2:3-4
3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
And the way GOD moved on behalf of Nehemiah, this man of GOD understood that the LORD’s intent was just the same now as it was several decades ago!

Once we commit our situation to the LORD, we must then do our part. It wasn’t until after they prayed, that they then set a watch while they continued to work. They didn’t watch instead of work, they continued to do the work undeterred and simply added a guard to watch out for the enemy.

While we must be aware of our enemy, we must not allow ourselves to focus on him, but on the LORD. Yet, to focus on the LORD and be unaware of the enemy is unwise; it’s even more unwise to focus on the enemy, neglecting the LORD altogether!

NEHEMIAH 4:13-15
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.

So while they continued to restore Jerusalem, setting stone and brick along the breaches, mending the walls of the city of peace, they strapped swords on, bore spears and bows.

We ourselves while engaged in Gospel work, preaching the Prince of peace as our enemies surround us while we’re intent on building in the kingdom of GOD by all various means, we are also engaged in spiritual warfare (the Gospel itself is a form of which) against the enemy who would see “the work ceased”.

Just as Nehemiah, no doubt at the leading of the LORD, positioned his people to specific areas to work and to watch, we the church are positioned by the LORD as to where to work and how in His kingdom. Whatever our calling, with what gifts of the Spirit the LORD has willed us to have, we are orchestrated by the Spirit and the counsel of Scripture on how to be effective in our work.

The LORD GOD is constantly reminding us to “not fear” because for one, we live in a fearful world and two, if we never succumbed to our fears, there would never be a need for Him to remind us!
Fear, anxiety, worry, doubts all stem from either not having the truth by which we can perceive these things as unnecessary, or having them, we are not fully persuaded of them.
It's vital that we sow ample seed of truth into our minds (GAL 6:7-9) and let that word be mixed with faith (HEB 4:2), and not sow seeds of fear. Check out this brief video:

NEHEMIAH 4:16-18
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.

Those who built were designated apart from those who battled and vice versa; yet everyone was prepared at a moment’s notice to do one or the other. The leaders were positioned “behind Judah”, that is, pursuing in attentiveness with an inclination towards action. These leaders (“captains, governors”, etc.) would no doubt “lead the charge” should the enemy break through the defenses along the walls, and put down the enemy that would infiltrate the city with intent to kill the Jews. Note that these stood at the ready beside or directly behind “all the house of Judah” (again, “praise of GOD”). We war as we worship the Holy One!

Where it indicates that “…with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other they held a weapon” simply means that they had both tools of construction and weapons of war on hand, able to use either in their service to the King of Israel, the LORD YHWH.

The one who would sound the alert stayed beside their leader, Nehemiah. With ourselves as the church, the Holy Spirit that grants discernment of dangers and perils is ready at hand to the Captain of the LORD of Hosts, the LORD Jesus Christ. Where the enemy is concerned, we can find no one more wily, subtle, more seductive, and sinister and wicked – and we need an ally Who that is more than a match for Satan, and that certainly is the Holy Spirit, the granter of wisdom and discernment whereby we may perceive the actions of the enemy and apply the wisdom we borrow from the LORD (And isn’t He so gracious in that He never asks for it back)! – and thwart all the plans and purposes that Satan intended to use for our destruction.

Those Jews who stood at a distance from the enemy were given spears; those in closer proximity were granted swords.
Whether the nature of our warfare is “up close and personal” or an attack comes from afar, we have able weapons for both. The Sword of the Spirit for close encounters. The spiritual spears GOD provides which are “all prayers and supplications” for the powers of the enemy that would attack remotely.

And notice also, that as the work progresses, these Jews who were just recently so downtrodden and dejected are themselves being transformed into a people willing to tackle the unlikely - even what seemed to be impossible, and by the grace of GOD see the ruination of Jerusalem become the rejuvenation of the holy city of GOD! Beyond this, they are becoming true warriors for the righteous cause of YHWH!

In our own assigned labors for the kingdom, we never plow alone – we are with our LORD Who plows alongside us, and we get the astounding privilege of learning of Him:
MATTHEW 11:28-30
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
The Holy and exalted LORD of Glory! He Who is also meek and lowly of heart (exceling at both with equal perfection!). And this yoke fellow of ours is also our Sword Master Who teaches our hands to war:
PSALM 18:32-35
31 For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? 32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer and sets me on my high places. 34 He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.
NEHEMIAH 4:19-23
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.

Because of the enormity of this task, the ranks were spread rather thin, each in their area, seeing to the repair work on the walls. But since the imminent threat of these various enemies asserted itself, the need for defenses became apparent. So the issuance of a trumpet call would sound wherever there was a need to concentrate their forces in rallying against the enemy.

And a rotational “changing of the guard” was required as well. And everyone slept in their clothes so that at a moment’s notice, those asleep could be roused and charge into battle. The only time

Yet they were never alone in this battle; Nehemiah proclaimed, “Our GOD will fight for us”. Note that it doesn’t say, “fight alongside us” but “…for us”. Truly, because they as well as ourselves are in a contest against evil, these our enemies were GOD’s enemies first. And as intent as we may be in seeing them vanquished, the Holy King of all creation is all the more intent on seeing this enormously offensive evil eradicated from His kingdom!

The thing about spiritual warfare that parallels its carnal counterpart is that both require perpetual vigilance. We can’t lower our guard even for a moment; and yet as willing as our spirit is, the flesh is weak (MATT 26:41). Our LORD said this to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, at His greatest hour of trial. But they all fell asleep and when the moment of truth came, they fled. We can’t afford to get spiritually sleepy in this spiritual warfare, and thus, the need for the Spirit to keep us ever and always on guard, diligent in our awareness of the enemy is quite evident.

Next time, we’ll examine Chapter Five in Part Seven of this series!

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