Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Battle is the Lord's...

"Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Nehemiah 4:14

Once there was a people who, because of their disobedience, their cities had been destroyed and they were forced into exile. They lived this way for many years before the king allowed them to return to their land. But when they did, they were saddened to see their city in such disgrace and disarray.

One of the exiles heard of the disgrace of his homeland and became disturbed and burdened for his people. He prayed and asked God to forgive them as a people and to remember His covenant with Moses, that if they repented, He would gather them back from the farthest corners of the earth and return them to their land.

This people was Israel.
The city was Jerusalem.
The man was Nehemiah....and he was a cup bearer to the king

King Artaxerxes noticed Nehemiah was troubled and asked him why. He had never seen Nehemiah sad before. Upon hearing Nehemiah's explanation of the condition of his homeland and the sadness of his heart, the king not only gives him permission to travel to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding, but gave him letters for safe travel and all the supplies needed to restore the city walls.

Nehemiah gathered the people around him and handed out job assignments. The people came from all the neighboring areas and from all social classes. There were high priests, governors, perfume makers, goldsmiths, house servants, temple servants, sons, daughters, district rulers, Levites, guards and merchants. No one was too important for the work; no one was excluded from the work.

Restoration had begun...
But the enemy had other plans.

There were those who did not want Israel to rebuild and they tried to intimidate the workers. "What do you think you are trying to do? Do you think you can actually do this? Can you bring life back from death? This is hopeless! What fools you are!"

But the people did not give up...they cried out to God and kept right on working with all their might. And they began to close the gaps in the walls and fortify them.

But the enemy came again...plotting to come up with ways to infiltrate them. "Before they know it, we will be right beside them and kill them as they work!"

By now, the people were tired. They had been working night and day to restore what had been broken. The lies and intimidation from the enemy was wearing on them. "Our strength is giving out, and there is so much rubble, so much destruction we cannot finish rebuilding."

Hope was almost gone...

Nehemiah gathers them together and sorts them by families. He arms them with swords, spears and bows and says, "Don't be afraid... remember who your God is! Fight for your families!" He sends them back to work. But from that day on, they did their work with one hand and kept the other hand on their weapon. While some were working, others were keeping watch for the enemy. But the work was spread out around the wall of the city, and there was a great distance between the workers. Whenever the enemy as spotted, the trumpet was blown. Nehemiah instructed them...

"Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. 
Our God will fight for us!" 
(Nehemiah 4:20)

The enemy tried to wait them out, saying, "They'll get tired, they are weak; they will not finish!" But Nehemiah prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."

And you know what? The wall was completed in 52 days! And when their enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they became afraid and lost their self confidence because they realized...

The work had been done with the help of God!

This is the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls. I know... it's a very long story. But it is also the story many of us are living today. For some, the walls of our lives have been destroyed and there is rubble all around us.

~~The work is hard and we are weary.
~~There is work for everyone; no one is exempt.
~~No job is too great and no job is too small.
~~The enemy is constantly intimidating us and placing obstacles in our way.
And we cannot do it alone!

So, what can we learn from Nehemiah?

Humble yourself before the Lord.
Work with all your might at what God has placed before you.
Take up the weapons of warfare and carry them with you at all times.
Don't let the enemy intimidate you with his lies!
Call your brothers and sisters to help you... you are not alone!
Ask God to strengthen your hands when you become too weary to continue.
And remember... our God will fight for us.

"All those gathered here will know 
that is is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; 
for the battle is the Lords'."
1 Samuel 17:47


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