Prayer And Preparedness
A daily devotion for August 9th
7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall."
11 Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."
12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us."
13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!"
21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, "Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day." 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:9)
The enemy mobilizes its forces, escalating the attack, and begins to plan direct violence. When you begin to move with God to change things in your life for the better, you will find that you are met first with derision, and if you keep persisting, someone is going to get very upset with you and attack you in a vicious, perhaps physical, way.
But see how Nehemiah reacts, He still relies on prayer (Nehemiah 4:9). But he does more than pray. He posts a guard as well. Prayer and preparedness! This blending of the resources of the spiritual life with those of the material world is a marvelous picture of how believers ought to face threats, recognizing that we need action on both levels.
Still the enemy persists, and he launches a propaganda campaign. There was an enormous amount of debris and broken stones that had to be cleared away before they could get to the walls. It must have been very discouraging.
The enemy immediately takes advantage of that weakness and discouragement (Nehemiah 4:11). Have you ever faced something like that? Were you ever threatened at work when you tried to correct an immoral or illegal practice that was being carried on around you? Perhaps someone said to you,
Keep that up, and you may lose your job here. You may have been threatened with demotion or with eviction from your apartment. You may even have been invited out in the parking lot to face a physical attack. These kinds of things are possible when we begin to right wrongs.
Nehemiah's response is very deliberate. First, he carefully looks over the situation and evaluates what is needed. This approach is necessary if we are going to improve our own lives. We must observe exactly where we are under attack. What are we addicted to? A wrong habit, a drug, an attitude of mind? Bitterness of spirit? When we have identified the source of attack, we must post a guard at that point.
Then, second, Nehemiah reviews the spiritual resources available to them. They had a power at work in their lives that their enemies knew nothing about. The great and awesome God who was with them would stand with them in their peril. When they remembered this, they became reassured and renewed in courage. The enemy saw that they could achieve nothing with their attacks.
One of my favorite passages of the New Testament is found in Paul's second letter to Timothy. Paul is a prisoner in Rome, and Timothy, a rather timid young man, is all alone and feeling discouraged in the great pagan city of Ephesus. The great apostle writes to him this word of advice:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8). Timothy was not alone. God was with him. Jesus is risen! He is awesome. He is strong. He is powerful. Reckon upon Him, and you will be able to stand against the most subtle temptation and the most dangerous threats that come against you.
Thank You, Father, for how practical and helpful the Scriptures are. Teach me to rely on You both in prayer and preparedness.
Life Application: What are two necessary responses when we are under attack? When we feel a bitterness of spirit, what spiritual resources are available to be victorious?
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