Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nehemiah 4: Building AND Defending!

From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. (Neh 4:16-18)

Sorry it's been a few weeks since my last update. We did have our study with the KingdomBuilder leaders last week and we went through Chapter 4 of Nehemiah. It's one of my favorite chapters of scripture. I even asked the guys if we could change the name of Kingdombuilders to Trowel & Sword! They obviously didn't take to the idea...

It's one of my favorites because of the beautiful picture of building and defending at the same time. These men knew that they needed to defend themselves, but they also knew that they equally had to keep building. See their neighbors were surrounding them. Verse 7 tells us Sanballat (coming from the north); Tobiah and the Ammonites (from the east); the Arabs (from the south), and the Ashdodites (had just joined in from the west) were planning a surprise attack.

Nehemiah and the people caught wind of it and decided to pray AND defend themselves while they kept building. So awesome the wisdom God gave Nehemiah to lead these people. Yes he prayed and he prayed earnestly at the same time he took practical steps to continue building and defend at the same time.

Here are some gleanings from the chapter:

  • We are at war - it's easy to forget in the ever comfortable US of A that there is a roaring lion who is seeking to devour us (1 Pet 5:8). Another passage tells us that a dragon makes war against those who obey God's commands and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17). The lion and the dragon are Satan our enemy who often surrounds us as the Israelites were surrounded and is waiting to spring a surprise attack. Let's not forget, no matter how comfortable and quiet it seems...that's exactly when a lion attacks.

  • Learn the balance of prayer and planning - so far this theme runs through all the chapters we've covered in Nehemiah. He was a man of prayer, leading on his knees as one commentator put it, but he also lead with his the here and now. He was a master of prayer AND planning at the same time. So often we miss one or the other...well I do. Mostly on the planning side, I'm a terrible prayER. But some just pray and don't plan for the prayer to be answered or think that God may want us to act and pray for his continued guidance and strength.

  • Learn the other balance of Building AND Defending - It's so hard to multi-task isn't it? These men were doing it, one hand on the trowel one hand on the sword. I find that I've become a specialist or too compartmentalized (not sure which). I want to either be wielding the trowel or the sword not both. But God's call is to do both! We need to be Kingdom Builders and Defenders. Evangelists and Apologists; Prayer Warriors and prone to Good Works; daily confessing and repenting of sin as well as gaining some ground on that sin.
I recently found out that Spurgeon had a newsletter or magazine (not sure what to call it) that he started in 1865, and apparently continues to this day! Guess what he named it? He named it Sword and Trowel. He announced the new magazine by saying, "We would ply the Trowel with untiring hand for the building up of Jerusalem's dilapidated walls, and wield the Sword with vigour and valour against the enemies of the Truth."