Today you should read: Nehemiah 4
In the first three chapters of Nehemiah we saw how Israel received a clear call from God to rebuild a wall around Jerusalem and how God’s people rallied around their leader in this project, Nehemiah. Now, by God’s good grace, I get to briefly comment on my favorite chapter in Nehemiah.
In the fourth chapter of Nehemiah, Israel faces persecution for the first time since they started rebuilding the wall (vs. 1-14). This is important because I believe we need to be aware that anytime God tells us to build up something, whether it’s a marriage or a church body (not just a building), we should expect trials and tribulation through spiritual attack. Sometimes that’s through others and sometimes it’s through our flesh. Either way, we need to expect that Satan will fight against whatever God calls you to.
Notice what the Israelites had in mind and heart when fighting back against persecution: God and family.
“And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” -Nehemiah 4:14
When Satan attacks whether it’s spiritual or through others, we must remember that we are defending our God and our family. As I type this my daughter is watching the cartoon movie, Despicable Me. In it, the adoptive Dad got his butt kicked by all of the robots, home alarms systems and sharks when trying to break into his arch-nemesis’ home but when he returned later to rescue his adopted daughters, he was the one kicking butt (Take that Todd Thomas and your “Finding Nemo” reference). You see this theme throughout Scripture and if it doesn’t motivate you to fight, then you probably need to do a heart check on what’s important to you.
Lastly, Nehemiah tells Israel to continue building the wall with a trowel (a tool that helps lay brick and mortar) in one hand and a sword in the other (vs. 15-23) He wanted God’s people to build on what God told them to do while defending and protecting that calling at the same time. C.H. Spurgeon, the popular London pastor and preacher of the 1800’s started a famous newspaper entitled The Sword And The Trowel, in which he would publish articles defending Scriptural truths against heresy that was creeping up in society and the church; and other articles that would build up the body of Christ. I believe we must have this same mindset as Christians in whatever God calls us to do. We need to protect and defend the things God calls us to build, one eye toward the enemy and one eye toward the building of the Kingdom through whatever God calls us into; ministry, marriage or being missional in our work and education.
Posted by: Erik Koliser
4 thoughts on “May 14, 2013”
Thank you Erik. Great commentary today. I love history so I did a Google search on Spurgeon’s monthly newsletter, The Sword and The Trowel, which he began publishing in 1865. You can read excerpts from the magazine on-line. It is amazing how the battles Christians faced 150 years ago in London, England are the same as the battles we fight today. Satan always wars against the work God’s people are doing. We can have confidence that God will be with us as we labor in the name that is above all names, Jesus Christ.
I love history as well & have read quite a few article from his newsletter. Some of his stuff on the downgrade controversy (spurgeon criticizing baptists at the time for their low view of scripture) is superb.
For anyone interested, here is a link that shows a diagram of the wall the Israelites were building:
It helps me picture what was going on. In yesterday’s scripture, you can see how the description of how the wall was being built went in sequence from the Sheep’s Gate all the way around the city and back to that same point. The image of the Israelite’s working with the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other is powerful — Defend what God has led us to build while we advance the work. That could be a marriage, a home, a church, a reputaion, a ministry, or whatever God has called us to. There is always a Sanballat or a Tobiah looking to criticize. Nehemiah modeled how to move past them and do what we are called to do. Good post Erik and good comment Mike.
Thanks for the pic & words Mike