The Reality of Real Battles!
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
2 Corinthians 4:7
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
1 Peter 5:8
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
“Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.”
The Enemy’s Plan!
The tactics of opposition followed three tracks:
1. Ridicule- the cry of ridicule is "you can't do it.” (4:2)
“And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?’ ”
2. Criticism- the cry of critique is "it won't work.” (4:3)
“Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!’ ”
3. Combat- when crying doesn't work start punching. (4:7-9, 11)
The Enemy’s Purpose:
To stop the work!
The enemy seeks to produce these qualities in our hearts:
The Responder’s Path!
Nehemiah's course of action involved several counter-punches…
1. Do not fear but know that opposition will come.
2. Pray... It is God's mission so it will take God's strength. (4:4-5, 9, 15, 20)
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
3. Focus...Quitting is not an option. (4:6)
“So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
4. Defend together…be the church. (4:13-17)
“So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 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.”
“So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.”
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ ”