God's Work...and ours

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night  Nehemiah 4:9

A little background.  God's people are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem which had been devastated by enemies and looters.  They had returned from long years of exile and were set on restoring their city to beauty and safety.  Although commissioned by Almighty God, the work was not without setbacks and discouragement.  The opposition came initially in the form of jeers and verbal abuse and eventually led to threat of invasion.  Thus, verse 9.  (Ultimately, the source of discouragement came also from within their ranks, not from the outside.  But that's another post!)

Let's notice these things -first, God's people were doing what He had told them to do.  But that didn't mean smooth sailing.  Note to self: difficulty and discouragement are not necessarily the signs that God intends me to go another direction.  Often, just the opposite is true!  When I find it tough to complete the task I believe God has given me, that might just mean God wants me to flex a little spiritual muscle and resolutely stand.  Just sayin

So the opposition is going to come.  It might be intimidation or ridicule or antagonism.  Or it might be distraction or resistance or negativism.  Don't be surprised.  But don't give up.  This verse tells us exactly what to do.  And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

Two things are the example.  I think, though, that we as believers tend towards one or the other in exclusion.  And then we think God failed us when we are without success.  But Scripture is very clear here.  First, pray.   Pray because God is the only One who has the power we need.  The only One who has the wisdom we need. The only One who has the love and grace and strength we need.  The only One who can affect the situation....because He engineered it for His purposes and our benefit to begin with!  And prayer is His chosen means of getting His Will done.  It's how He changes us.  It's how He keeps us connected to Him.  It's how He gets the glory and honor of which He is worthy.

Notice, though, that His people didn't just pray.  And this is where some of my brothers and sisters are gonna get a little rattled with me.  Prayer was not all God called them to do. Sounds practically blasphemous, doesn't it?? Well, it's not.  They set up a guard to watch and protect against the enemy.  Now don't hear what I'm not saying.  In no way am I advocating some kind of works-based theology.  Our life of salvation (justification, sanctification and glorification) is completely a product of God's grace.  But as His grace works through us, He calls us to do some things.  In this case, the people prayed...and worked and stood guard, ready to terminate invaders.  Check out the rest of this passage:

 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. 14 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.”

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail.


Next time you face a little opposition, (like maybe before you have your 2nd cup of coffee this morning??), remember Nehemiah and his people.  They prayed.  And they also worked.


Oh, and the wall?  Well, read on through chapter 6 of Nehemiah and see what happened.

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.