December 2015


Introduction

The modern men seldom look back nor do they look up. Today if we were to hit the streets, we often see them looking down. It doesn’t matter if they are in the mall or on the road. They will tend to look down all the time, with their eyes fixated on their phones. What is scarier is when they do that even as they are driving. In the Chinese language, we nicknamed this generation as “底头族” which literally translates to “A tribe that lowers their head”.

But if we choose to look back we may realise that we have lost a lot of beautiful sights which pass us by.  That is when we realise that time had passed quickly. The year 2015 is about to pass and we are about to enter a new year. That is when we realise that time had indeed passed us by quickly. That is when we become concerned and we regret not looking back or looking up.

How does that apply to us today? Especially as the current year draws to a close.  To some of us, it does not make a difference. But to many others it seems to matter a lot. Let us take a look at two reflections and learn from them

The Reflection And  The Song Of Moses

Moses reflected on his life as such

“The days of our lives are seventy years;
  And if by reason of strength they are 
  eighty years,
  Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
  For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
  Who knows the power of Your anger?
  For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
  So teach us to number our days,
  That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Moses (Ps 90:10-12)

As Moses looked back at the days he had spent on earth. He felt that life on earth is short and it is full of labour pain and sorrow. As he looked back, he saw the darker aspect of the life of men. But as he looks upwards, he saw his eternal home up in the heavens. He is able to see the bright future ahead of him.

That is why he said “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

The Importance Of Looking Back

As we step into the new year, let us take the time to reflect on how we spent our last year. Let us make new plans for our life. Have we used our time to prepare to enter our home in heaven?

These are important question for the kingdom of heaven is not open to everyone

“Not everyone who says to Me, 
  ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom 
  of heaven, but he who does the will 
  of My Father in heaven.
 
Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, 
  Lord, have we not prophesied in Your
  name, cast out demons in Your name,
  and done many wonders in Your name?’
  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never
  knew you; depart from Me, you who practice
  lawlessness!’”- Jesus (Matt 7:21-23)

This is why Christians ought to follow God now, let us not wait  until the door is closed before we knock. For right now, when the door is open for us, we could knock and enter. But if the door is closed no amount of regret could let us enter into the Lord.

That is why we need this heart of wisdom to prepare for our home in the future. We need to make use of our remaining time to draw close to God and to walk with him.

Reflecting On Our Past Mistake

Sometimes as we reflect on the year, we may encounter occasions that sadden us. When our health is not as good as before, when we encounter events that take away joy from our heart. When our hearts are weight with many anxieties, vexing problems that clause sorrows.

These are things which we do not want to encounter, it may happen in our work, in our families as well as our church ministry. They appear as if it is a black spot causing much sadness and regret.

That is when we need to look up and look at God. For only by looking upwards can we experience hope and comfort. For we are assured that there is a place of eternal joy and peace prepared for us.  We need to have the heart of Wisdom to prepare and enter that rest. For we know that Christ is at the door waiting to welcome us there.

But are we truly able to get to that rest? It depends on how we prepare for it today. In Psalm 90 Moses said

“Who knows the power of Your anger?
  For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.” – Moses (Ps 90:11)

Today in church many pastors refuse to talk about judgement and wrath. They wanted to bring messages of love and hope, messages to give warmth and happiness. Many would not prefer speakers who talk about God’s wrath and judgment.

We believed that we have toiled hard for 6 days and were carrying lots of burdens. We need more messages of warmth and comfort and not words of rebuke and Gods wrath. We often think “God is Love, why would one talk about the wrath of God?”

It sound reasonable, but is that the only message from the bible?

Indeed, God is love and he wanted us to draw close to him and experience his love and be saved. But likewise, God is also a consuming fire. For when the day of Judgment is here, then we will see the fire and his wrath. Anyone who went against the word of God will be judged.

If everyone only wants to talk about the love and peace of God and no one is willing to talk about sin and judgement. How could one prepare for the coming of the Lord? Will it be too late if we start preparing only when he comes?

Therefore, the song of Moses reminds us that we will all face judgement from God. That will be a time when we are forced to look back and consider how we lived our lives. God will show us the things we did that incurred his wrath. Likewise, God will also reward those who did things that glorified his name.

The Importance Of Doing Right

That is why Paul tells us

All things are lawful for me,[
  
but not all things are helpful;
   all things are lawful for me,
  
but not all things edify.

  Therefore, whether you eat or
  drink, or whatever you do, 
  do all to the glory of God. “ – Paul (1 Cor 10:23,31)

It is true that we have the liberty to do everything we want. Back in the military, they often say, “Do but don’t get caught”. But Paul reminds us that “everything is lawful. but not all are helpful and edifying”. That is why on top of everything that typical man would review in his new year. Christian ought to consider if their actions brought glory or shame onto God.

Perhaps we may not be breaking the law, and the courts will not question our action. But God will definitely question us on the last day. That is why the preacher in Ecclesiastes tell us that we could do all our hearts desire and see what we want to see, but know this that we will be judged eventually.

That is why he concluded saying

“Fear God and keep His commandments,
   For this is man’s all.
  For God will bring every work into judgment,
  Including every secret thing,
  Whether good or evil.” – Solomon (Eccl 12:13-14)

This is why Paul reminded the church in Corinth that in everything they do, they must give glory to God.

Perhaps by now we would have recalled many things that happen within this year. The many occasions where we are tempted and we sinned against God. IT makes us sad and regretful. But we need to remember the lessons we learnt from these mistakes. Perhaps we may be able to rectify some of them, but there are many which are irreversible.

We need to know that a moment of folly can lead to years of regret.

Moving Forward With Repentance

That is why we must be careful and mindful over how we should lead this coming year. Let us not repeat these mistakes once again.

As we reflect on the year 2015, we would remember our mistakes and the areas we need to improve. We would also see the things that we have done well. Let us resolve to continue in the things that are right before God and let us have the courage to repent from our mistake and resolve not to continue in the error. For the only way to escape the wrath of God is to turn back and repent.

For God said

“Therefore I will judge you, O house
  of Israel, every one according to his ways,
  Repent, and turn from all your transgressions,
  so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away
  from you all the transgressions which you have
  committed, and get yourselves a new heart and
   a new spirit. For why should you die, O house
  of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death
  of one who dies,Therefore turn and live!” – YHWH (Eze 18:30-32)

This is why we must repent, and look back to check if we have sinned against God. For Jesus tells us.

And if anyone hears My words
  and does not believe,[ I do not
  judge him; for I did not come to
  judge the world but to save the
  world. He who rejects Me, and
  does not receive My words, has
  that which judges him—the word
  that I have spoken will judge him
  in the last day.”- Jesus (Jn 12:47-48)

Here Jesus tells us that his words will judge us on the last day. We often think that the word of Jesus is only the words of salvation. In fact they are more than that, they are also the words of Judgment. Let us not just call him “Lord Lord” and yet disobey his commands and instruction.

Those who are wise and God-fearing will choose to follow his words. For they know that his word will judge them. That is why we need to let go of our sins and receive a new spirit and a new heart. For why should we die? Why don’t we turn back?

It is our choice and God will not force us to repent. He hopes that we will turn back to him he hopes that he will repent by our own free will. He never desired the death of the wicked he would rather that they turn back and lived.

Looking Back At Our Direction And Goals In Life

Now let us take some time to reflect on the goals we have set for the year 2015. Sometimes we as adults are guilty of leading a life that is aimless.

That is why Paul tells us

“And everyone who competes
  for the prize is temperate in all
  things. Now they do it to obtain
  a perishable crown, but we for
  an imperishable crown.
  Therefore I run thus: not with
  uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as
  one who beats the air. But I
  discipline my body and bring it
  into subjection, lest, when I have
  preached to others, I myself
  should become disqualified.” – Paul (1 Cor 9:25-27)

When Paul looked back in his life, he can say with confidence, that he is not running aimlessly in life. He had the right goal and he is running towards it.

Today many Christian work hard and run their race with all their strength. But are our goals correct? Are we running at the right direction?

I remember six years ago I shared the lyrics of the song. “Nowhere Man”

Let us not be like the nowhere man who laboured so hard without any result. There was a Chinese Poet who describes this aptly. “ “采得百花成蜜后,为谁辛苦为谁忙”(Translated “After turning a hundred flowers into honey. for whom are they toil and suffer for? “)

Indeed, we work harder than bees, who are hard at work creating honey as we are sleeping at night. Just when we think we could enjoy the fruit of our labour, we encounter unfortunate events. That is when we wonder, “Why are we so busy all the time? What’s purpose does it serve?”

The Old Man And The Sea

This reminds me of the work of Mr Ernest Hemingway. He spent much of his life pursuing one objective after another. He achieved fame and status, he worked hard and played hard. He was a wartime reporter and he is known for his fighting spirit, especially against all the challenges he encounters in life.

At the end of his life, he wrote the book “The Old Man And The Sea”

The book talks about an old Cuban fisherman who went out into the deep to catch fish. While everyone says he is unlucky, he decided to venture out on his own to fish. On that trip, he caught a giant Marlin fish, one that is so huge that he was unable to put it on his boat. Therefore, he had to tie it at the side of his boat as he returns to shore.

He wanted to show the fish to those who mock him and he wanted to celebrate his great catch. But as he was returning to show, the sharks came and they wanted to eat his prize. He fought them off and used his oar to hit them. He scolded the sharks for being bullies, for they wanted to eat the fruit of his labour. He used everything that is in his disposal to fight off the sharks. He tried to row back to shore as fast as he can. But at the very end, he realised that his prized catch is merely a dead carcass and a huge skeleton.

Hemingway was referring to himself in the story. He had worked so hard his entire life and he caught a huge fish. After a while, the fish became bones and then he realise that all the things he achieves are temporary. In a twinkling of an eye, it will disappear. That is why he was disappointed with life and he cannot see the point behind his hard work.

We know that at the very end, he committed suicide. He felt as if his life was just like beating the air. At the very end, all that he received were fish bones.

Finding Meaning In Life Struggles

But Paul said that he was fighting not as one who beats the air. For he is able to see the values behind his struggles. He did not fight for the things of the world but for the things in heaven. He is not fighting to receive a perishable crown but he wanted to get the imperishable crown from heaven.

As the result at the end of his life, he can say with confidence.

I have fought the good fight,
  I have finished the race,
  I have kept the faith. 
  Finally, there is laid up for me 
  the crown of righteousness,
  which the Lord, the righteous
  Judge, will give to me on that Day” – Paul (2 Tim 4:7-8)

Here it presents to us two choices we can take in life. We all toil and struggle in life and sometimes we become tired. But what do we want to achieve in the end? Do we want to just receive fish bones, that will disappear in the twinkling of an eye? or do we want to be like Paul who sang the song of victory at the end?  For we know if we continue to strive in this race and to finish the fight. There will be a crown of righteousness waiting for us.

The Reflection And  The Prayer Of David

“Lord, make me to know my end,
  And what is the measure of my days,
  That I may know how frail I am.
  Indeed, You have made my days 
  as handbreadths, And my age is as 
  nothing before You;
  Certainly every man at his best state
  is but vapor.”– David (Ps 39:4-5)                                                

The prayer of David is similar to the prayer of Moses. For be it a prophet or a king, our work will finish one day and it will come to an end. The only thing that is eternal and will never end is found in heaven and not on earth.

That is why we need to have the wisdom from God to see it. We need to pray to God make us know our end. But as I read the two prayers. There is something that baffled me.  The fact is, everyone including children knows that life on earth will end one day. Why then did David and Moses ask God to let them know their end? Even if we know our end there is nothing we can do about it.

Both David and Moses is trying to know the measure of their days. They wanted to be reminded not to waste their time over vain pursuits.   For David continues saying

“Surely every man walks about like
  a shadow; Surely they busy
  themselves in vain; He heaps up
  riches,  And does not know who will
  gather them.” – David (Ps 39:6)

David wanted to adjust his direction in life. Perhaps in the past, he was busy chasing after riches, fame, status and success. Are these not the things we desire today?  We need to know that at the very end it would all be empty. Therefore, we need to have the same understanding as David. For he said

   “And now, Lord, what  do I wait for?
   My hope is in You.”” – David (Ps 39:7)

David mentioned in another psalm

“Arise, O Lord,
  Confront him, cast him down;
  Deliver my life from the wicked
  with Your sword,

  With Your hand from men, O Lord,
   From men of the world who have
   their portion in this life, And whose
   belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
   They are satisfied with children,
   And leave the rest of their possession
   for their babes.

   As for me, I will see Your face in
   righteousness;  I shall be satisfied when
   I awake in Your likeness.”- David (Ps 17:13-15)

David wanted God to save him from the people in the world, from the ones whom God had filled their stomach with good things. Those who can leave their possession for their children. These are things we desire and things we hope for, but yet David wanted God to save him from these. He would rather hope in the Lord.

For one day we will know that when we leave the world, everything will be empty. It is a fact that we know, but we pretend as if we want to forget it. Therefore, let us be like Moses and David let us not be busy with our heads bowed looking at the things of the world. Let us learn to look up, for we are the citizen of heaven and we need to look upon our heavenly home.

For we are but sojourners on this earth, we came to earth as if we are travellers. We are a temporary guest on earth and one day we need to return home. Will the heavenly kingdom be opened for us? It depends on how we prepared ourselves on earth.

Looking Back At What We Prepared

As human beings, we often prepare for many things. What have we prepared in the past year? People in the world often prepare for many things in life.

Jesus once talked about a rich fool who had prepared many things in life. He was well prepared for retirement and he was contented. For he told himself

“Soul, you have many goods laid up for 
  many years; take your ease; eat, drink,
  and be merry.” – Rich Fool (Lk 12:19)

He thinks that he could enjoy the fruit of his labour it would be a waste not to enjoy. But God said to him.

“Fool! This night your soul will be required
  of you; then whose will those things be
  which you have provided?” – God (Lk 12:20)

A rich fool is a smart man, he knows how to prepare for life and he knows how to make money. But he had forgotten what he really need to prepare. Jesus reminds us through that parable and he asked, “What are you busy preparing for the past year?”

Actually, sometimes we prepare hard for old age and retirement when we are down doing that we even prepared for our own death. We draw up wills and we divide the possession among our children. This preparations are necessary.

But what is more, important is to prepare to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus reminds us of two things that we ought to prepare.

  “And while they went to buy,
    the bridegroom came, and those
    who were ready went in with him
    to the wedding; and the door was shut. 

  “Afterward the other virgins came also,
    saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
   
But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly,
    I say to you, I do not know you.’

  “Watch therefore, for you know neither
    the day nor the hour in which the Son of
    Man is coming.” – Jesus (Matt 25:10-13)

In this parable, the 5 foolish virgins did not prepare extra oil. When the door was shut they were shut out of the door. The oil is often referred to the Holy Spirit, it is the spirit of God dwelling with us. It is something we need to pray for it is not received at the point of Baptism or when you believed.

That is why the apostles need to pray for it, even Mary the mother of Jesus needs to pray for it. It is the guarantee of our inheritance as Paul said it in Eph 1:13-14. 

Besides this Jesus reminds us of one more thing from the book of Revelations.

“Remember therefore how you have
  received and heard; hold fast and repent.
  Therefore if you will not watch, I will
  come upon you as a thief, and you will
  not know what hour I will come upon you.
  You have a few names even in Sardis who
  have not defiled their garments; and they
  shall walk with Me in white, for they are
  worthy.  He who overcomes shall be clothed
  in white garments, and I will not blot out his
  name from the Book of Life; but I will
  confess his name before My Father and
  before His angels.” – Jesus (Rev 3:3-5)

Here Jesus remind us to look back and remember what we have received and heard. We need to hold fast to that truth that we have learnt initially. Do we still believe in them or have we start to doubt the words of the Lord? Jesus knows who had held on to them and who had left the initial faith.

It is our choice to hold on to our beliefs or to leave them. But our choice will affect our future.

That is why Jesus reminds us to hold fast to what we have heard and to put on our white garments. If we choose to defile our garments we will be rejected. Those who overcome their obstacles and are victorious will be cloth in white and God will not blot his name from the book of life. He will confess him before the Father and before his angels.

Concluding Thoughts

As the new year approaches. We know that there are many uncertainties ahead. We are unsure of what lies ahead but we can ask God to guide us every day. We do not know what troubles we may meet or when we will be deceived and fall from our faith.

But we can ask God to preserve us daily and we can ask him to guide us every day in this new year,

As we celebrate this new year, let us reflect on the previous and let us continue to look up and remember God. May God guide us in this new year and bless us and keep us in the faith.

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Introduction

So far we have covered 4 factors behinds the success of Nehemiah.

1st Factor : He realised his commission and he prayed to God to help him  (Part 1)
2nd Factor : He was able to seize the opportunity and he was well prepared.  (Part 1)
3rd Factor : Nehemiah visited the ground to gain a personal understanding (Part 2)
4th Factor : Nehemiah encourage the Jews To Work For The Lord (Part 2)
5th Factor : Nehemiah knew how to make everyone work together (Part 3)
6th Factor : Nehemiah relied on God in face of Internal and External Threat (Part 4)

Let us continue our study the 6th factor behind his success. We understood that as Nehemiah went on to build the walls of Jerusalem, he had to handle both internal and external threats that will destroy the work of God.

Our previous post talks about how his enemies mock at the Jews and discredited the work that they did. They wanted to use their words to destroy the faith of the Jews. We have discussed how Nehemiah responded by calling God to listen and to judge. As he prayed, he continue to lead the Jewish exiles to work on the wall.

Let us now consider the other aspect of the threat of Sanballat and Tobiah

Threat 1: Military Action From Sanballat And Tobiah

“Now it happened, when Sanballat,
  Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites,
  and the Ashdodites heard that the
  walls of Jerusalem were being
  restored and the gaps were
  beginning to be closed, that they
  became very angry,  and all of them
  conspired together to come and attack
  Jerusalem and create confusion.” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:7-8)

When Sanballat and Tobiah realised that their words failed to hurt the Jewish exiles, they decided to spread the word that they are planning to attack the builders. They did it so as to create confusion and to divide the people. If the exiles are divided, they will never be able to unite against their enemies. The threat of a military offensive is often effective tactic. For everyone is afraid of trouble, everyone is afraid of bloodshed and tears.  By issuing a military threat, they are able to threaten the Jews to stop the work.

Threat 2 : Resistance From The Workers

As the result of this external threat, Nehemiah now face the internal resistance from among the builders. These resistance came from many angles

“The strength of the laborers is
  failing, and there is so much
  rubbish that we are not able
  to build the wall.”- Judah (Neh 4:10)

“They will neither know nor
  see anything, till we come
  into their midst and kill them
  and cause the work to cease.”- Adversaries (Neh 4:11)

From here we know that the people had lose heart and their strength are failing. there are 2 reasons behind their discouragement

Firstly, they saw much debris and they needed more manpower to clear them. The builders needed more help, and now they face the threat of military action. These news brought grieve upon grieve. Sometimes as we serve in the church we will encounter a lot of debris and obstruction. They are hard and difficult to clear. Sometimes the more we try to clear them the more they will appear. These problems can make us weary and tired.

Secondly, their strength are failing and they are indeed exhausted . Every Project Manager will tell you that the midpoint of the project is the most trying time for the team. When a project is just initiated, it is often greeted with lots of enthusiasm and zeal. For the team is fresh and are eager to put in effort and to make sacrifices.  The same can be said when the project is close to completion, for everyone could see the light at the end of the tunnel and they will be willing to push forward towards the goal

But the midpoint is where most people are tired and discouraged. In the example of Nehemiah, the threat from the enemies discourage them even more. Some of the Jews wanted to stop working and they wanted to compromise with their enemies  

That is why some of the Jews reacted saying .

“From whatever place you
  turn, they will be upon us.”- Jews living near the Enemies (Neh 4:12) 

Nehemiah 4:12  talks about the Jews who lived close by telling Nehemiah to stop work. They approached him 10 times/ They are made up of residents living near the enemies, their numbers include the leaders and commoners.

These are the internal and external problems faced by Nehemiah. Let us learn how he responded to these problem.

Response 1: Nehemiah lead Israel To Focus On God

“Nevertheless we made our
  prayer to our God, and because
  of them we set a watch against
  them day and night.” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:9)

In face of all the threats, the first thing he did was to lead them to pray to God. He wanted to turn their focus away from their weariness,  away from the debris and he wanted to turn their focus towards Lord. Everyone is aware of the reality of the work before them. There were a lot of rubble and it is difficult to clear them.  There were people trying to stop the work fearing for their lives, they refuse to cooperate to complete the work.

If this were to continue , when  will the wall ever be completed? Indeed the surrounding is scary and discouraging. It seems no matter how hard they try to see, they are unable to see any glimpse of hope.

Therefore Nehemiah led them to look upon God.  Even though we cannot deny our disappointment and how weary and tired we are, but let us focus on the Lord, his temple and this city that belongs to him. For we are not working for our own sake, and we are doing the will of God. God will help us, and God will complete this work.

All we need to do is to acknowledge the problem and tell them to the Lord.

Sometimes as we serve God, we will meet with many problem and we will face the threat from our enemies. But we need to know that our Lord is greater than all these problems.

That is why we need to look upon the Lord. Just like how Nehemiah reminded the Israelites

“Do not be afraid of them.
  Remember the Lord, great 
  and awesome, and fight for
  your brethren, your sons,
  your daughters, your wives,
  and your houses.”- Nehemiah (Neh 4:14)

Nehemiah reminded them that their God is great and awesome. The enemies are obstructing the work of God and they  will not escape from the wrath of God. But if the Jews were to stop working on the wall because of them, they will have to face the wrath of God.

Therefore let us not  focus on the  frightening the enemies are, but let us be afraid of the wrath of judgement of God. Nehemiah reminded them of whom they should really fear. Therefore whenever we feel weak and are fearful in the situation, let us remember that our great and awesome God.

A spiritual leader need to have strength in order to lead. If Nehemiah appear weak before his enemies, then the work will be affected. The Jews would be confused and frightened, and they will tremble in fear. Let us not be part of the confusion and fear, but rather let u rely on God who is strong and is able to complete the work.

When Winston Churchill became the prime minister of Britain, it was during a difficult time. For Hitler had occupied most of Europe and was planning to invade Britain. On his first speech to the house of commons he said.

“I have nothing to offer
  but blood, toil, tears
  and sweat.”- Winston Churchill

It was his strength and conviction that unites Britain against Nazi Germany. Britain is the only country that did not fall to Hitler. From here we can see something that is common in all struggles, be it spiritual or worldly.  Whenever we face the threat of enemies, it is natural to feel weak, discourage or even fearful. But that is also the time we need to use our faith to understand that our God is great and awesome.

Response 2 : To Pick Up Weapons For Defence

Beside praying, Nehemiah led the people to do whatever he could at that time.  

Therefore I positioned men
  behind the lower parts of
  the wall, at the openings;
  and I set the people according
  to their families, with their
  swords, their spears, and
  their bows” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:13)

Nehemiah told the Jews to to pick up their swords and spear. They did that not to attack but to defend themselves.  They wanted the enemies to know that even if they were to attack, the Jews will not surrender. Nehemiah then reminded them to fight for their brethren, sons, daughters, wives,  and their houses,

He told them not to be afraid but to defend themselves. For even if they were to surrender, they enemies will still come and attack them. But if they knew that the Jews were not afraid of them and have armed themselves. They would not dare to attack.

And it happened, when
  our enemies heard that
  it was known to us, and
  that God had brought their
  plot to nothing, that all
  of us returned to the wall,
  everyone to his work. “- Nehemiah (Neh 4:15)

The enemies purpose for threatening the Jews is to make them lose their faith and willpower. They wanted to create division and to be fearful and confused. But Nehemiah is a spiritual leader who fought hard for the house of God. He understood their plot so he encourage the Jews to be strong and not to fall from it. 

God helped them and he disrupted the plan of the enemies. We read that the enemies did not come for God had brought their plan to nothing. The bible did not record of how God helped the Jews and how he disrupted their plot. But we know that God had brought their plan to nothing. Therefore we need to learn to entrust our problem to the Lord. Even though we do not know when God will help and how he will destroy their plot. But we believe that whoever who opposed God will be judged by his righteousness.

Let us not stand there and wait for God to act, we need to do what is within our ability. We need to pick up our spears and swords and show our enemies our determination to fight.

Response 3 : Making Plans To Defend The Wall

Besides arming the Jews, Nehemiah made plans to defend the wall from the enemies. He did not relax just because the enemies did not come. He continued to prepare for the defence of the wall.

“So it was, from that time on,
  that half of my servants worked
  at construction, while the other
  half held the spears, the shields,
  the bows, and wore armor; and
  the leaders were behind all the
  house of Judah.
 
Those who built on the wall, and
  those who carried burdens, loaded
  themselves so that with one hand
  they worked at construction, and
  with the other held a weapon. 
 
Every one of the builders had his
  sword girded at his side as he built.
  And the one who sounded the
  trumpet was beside me. “ – Nehemiah (Neh 4:16-18)

The arrangement seem to create a difficult work environment for his people. But we need to understand that just because the enemies did not come, doesn’t mean that they would not come in the future. If the Jews were to relax themselves and stop arming themselves, the enemies will take the opportunity to make a surprise attack and they will be caught unprepared.

That is why Nehemiah did not relax, and he further prepared the Jews to defend themselves. Half of his workers were working, while the other half held spears. The leaders were to stand behind them and to supervise and guard them. These are necessary preparation to deter the enemies from attacking. 

Such precaution will increase the faith of the workers, for they will not be worried if the enemies were to attack the wall.  Some may think that these additional arrangement will affect that speed and progress of the work. But if the Jews were not armed, the wall will be destroyed by the enemies,

That is why Nehemiah arrange that half would work while the other half would guard. The work of building the wall would continue and the defence will not be compromised.  Those who work, must work with one hand and hold a weapon on the other. For there was not enough soldiers, therefore everyone must do his part to protect the wall. Those who are doing heavy manual work that require both hands must grid the weapon on them.

This is a attitude necessary to complete the work.

There was once a village chapel that caught fire. The villagers are are rallying to use buckets to carry water from the river to put out the water. But some of the Christians felt that they ought to pray and ask God to help them. Therefore the leaders told them “Let us use the water to put out the fire, but as we put out the fire let us pray with our heart.”

That leader fully understood what Nehemiah meant to work with one hand and to carry the weapon with the other.

Response 4 : To Set Up Communications Between The Builders

“The work is great and extensive,
  and we are separated far from
  one another on the wall.
  Wherever you hear the sound
  of the trumpet, rally to us
  there. Our God will fight
  for us.”- Nehemiah (Neh 4:19)

Nehemiah planed for the builders to help each other in need. He gave them horns to signal each other if attacked.  If the enemies were to attack suddenly, it would be difficult to summon help by mere shouting. But if one were to blow the horn, it can send a signal far away and the defenders can rally and defend themselves.

Such arrangement will allow the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. If you were to face a swift and stealthy  enemy alone, you will get tired easily. But if you know that help is coming, you will have the strength to fight on. That is why communication between the builders are important, even though the arrangement appear to be  unnecessary. But you will reap the benefit when the enemies were upon you. 

Besides working and carrying the weapon, we need the horn to call for help. 

Response 5 : Taking Turns To Guard The Wall

“Let each man and his servant
  stay at night in Jerusalem, that
  they may be our guard by night
  and a working party by day.
  So neither I, my brethren, my
  servants, nor the men of the
  guard who followed me took
  off our clothes, except that
  everyone took them off for
  washing.” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:22-23)

This is another arrangement by Nehemiah. Nehemiah told the guards to watch days and night. They did not take off their armour except for  washing. The Chinese bible also indicated that those who fetch water carried weapons as well. This arrangement was so because they do not know when the enemies will strike

Nehemiah made preparation that everyone must be armed. Including the cooks and servants who fetch water. Nehemiah considered all the possibilities and prepared with all his might. His preparation allow the Jews to remain watchful and to overcome heir enemies.

Conclusion

Today as we serve God, we would face the same internal and external threats. The problems that we will face will be similar to the problems faced by Nehemiah. We will likewise face people mocking us with their words, and we may even be threatened as we serve God.

Today we studied into the sixth factor behind success of Nehemiah’s work.  It reminds us that we need to rely on God whenever we serve him. At the same time, we ought to make whatever preparation that is necessary. Nehemiah did not relax even though God had helped the people. He continue to put in effort to prepare his people to defend themselves.

We need to be like Nehemiah, to lead everyone to focus onto God. AT the same time we need to set guards, hold up our weapons to defend ourselves. We need to carry the horn to call for help to defend ourselves.

Most importantly, we need to continue to work even in the midst of trouble. For that is the most effective way to deal with threats within and outside the church.