Nehemiah’s heart was broken because the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed and left in ruin. He asked the king for permission to take men and rebuild the sacred city, and it was granted him. He also knew that there were enemies in the land that did not like the Jewish people, and did not want the city rebuilt.
The book of Nehemiah is a wonderful illustration of men doing God’s work in a land filled with enemies. While a great story of Jewish history, it is also a guide for us today as men trying to lead our wives and children; build great marriages and families; all while trying to advance the kingdom of God – all in a land swarming with enemies as well.
How do we do this? What does God say about it?
Living in a world at war requires a deliberate lifestyle. As a soldier living in a combat area, you would never dream of living one minute, much less one day, without your body armor and helmet on – and our assault weapon in your hand. Sadly, most Christians today walk through their days in their underwear expecting their life, marriage, children, job, health, etc. to be unaffected by the world. It is no wonder half of them end up divorced, and far too many live unfulfilled, wounded lives.
The Bible is very clear that we have responsibility to protect ourselves and to live deliberately as soldiers in this fallen world:
Proverbs 4:23 – Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.
1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Proverbs 16:17 – The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.
Proverbs 22:5 – Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
Malachi 2:15 – Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.
Nehemiah gives us a great example of how to lead well, protect ourselves and our family, all while building the Kingdom – in chapter 4, verse 17:
Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,
We are wise to wake each day, put on the “whole armor of God”, and go about our day with one hand on the work at hand, and another firmly on our weapon. We live in a world at war and need to be reminded daily how critical our role as leaders is, and how God is entrusting (and empowered) us to lead and protect well.
Suit up, stay alert…