This morning I was reading again in Nehemiah chapter 4. No matter how many times I read the words of this account, I am inspired and encouraged all over again. This particular portion intrigues me because of the formation of defense that revolved around families.
Families are, in my opinion, the foundation of society as we know it. When God created human kind, He formed the first family. All through Scripture we are taught of the importance of family. Even our belief system as Christians is based on the concept of being a family of believers.
Families can be frustrating and irritating. Families can sometimes look differently than what we would have hoped. Sometimes our closest family members have nothing whatsoever to do with shared blood lines. As an adoptive mom I can attest to that. But, families with all of their complications and demands are important. They are necessary. They influence who we are, remind us where we have been and hopefully give us the courage to press on to what we can accomplish in the future.
As I’ve mentioned before, Nehemiah is about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. They encountered all manner of opposition as they went about this work of restoration. Chapter four details many of the tactics the enemy used to prevent progress. It was being discussed by everyone. The attacks were coming from every direction. The people were almost in a panic. They needed a plan. Something had to be done! Let’s look at what they did.
The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
Nehemiah 4:12-14 NLT
Every direction! If you are a living breathing human being that’s lived a few decades on this earth, you know exactly what that looks like. This description always reminds me of the fiery darts mentioned in Ephesians chapter 6. So, here they are, an impending attack (from all directions) has been reported. Before we discuss what they did do, let me point out what they did not do. They did not march around with their hands over their eyes and their fingers in their ears refusing to hear and see what was happening. No matter who has convinced you otherwise, denial does not equal faith. As a matter of fact, denial equals vulnerability. If you won’t admit there is an attack, an enemy, an issue, an ensuing battle, how can you prepare for it?
I am thankful for the fine example in is passage of taking action and putting a plan in place to defend what is worth defending. I can so easily envision Nehemiah speaking courage and purpose into these shaken people.
“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
There are things worth fighting for. As we all know, while we would prefer peace, when peace is threatened, it must be defended. Peace worth having was never gained nor retained by refusing to take a stand. A peace that requires the compromised safety of your family or the tolerance of evil is a pretense and a cowardly, dangerous path to choose.
Before he gave his impassioned speech and after they had been given the report of the impending attack, Nehemiah did some other things. He had a strategy. After he identified the lowest parts, the exposed parts of the walls, he stationed guards. THEN he stationed the people to stand guard by families! By families! These families were armed; they had the weapons they needed and the reason they needed.
What about you and your family? Are you properly equipped to withstand the attacks that are sure to come? Have you identified the exposed, low parts in the wall that represents the integrity of your family? Are you ready to take a stand and prepared to defend it?