GOD'S BATTLE PLAN
Pastor Sherri Drury
Thinking about enemies is not my favorite subject with which to occupy my mind. I’d rather think about good things, bright things, peaceful things. And I don’t ever want to be labeled a negative and cautious alarmist. Yet, we would be naive to ignore the reality that there are forces working against God and his kingdom. And when we chose Jesus, we are part of that kingdom, and God’s enemy becomes our enemy too.
We find ourselves face-to-face with enemies in Nehemiah Chapter 4. The people of God are forced to think about the enemy day and night. An alliance of neighboring nations are less-than-thrilled about having a revived “people-of-God” in their way. Behind these very tangible human enemies lurks a spiritual enemy bent on messing with God’s redemptive plan. That enemy continues to lurk in our time as well: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Hear the Enemy’s threat to Nehemiah and his people: “before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to their work” (Nehemiah 4:10). This alliance is not just a mild obstacle to be dealt with. Nor are they simply opposed to a work project. These enemies have decided that they do not want to be bothered with God’s people ever again. And likewise, in our lives, the enemy does not simply scheme to halt your Christian growth– what he’d really like to do is to completely devour and destroy you. (John 10:10) (1 Peter 5:8)
I believe that as the idle and discouraging ridicule of Nehemiah’s enemies turned into actual death threats and plots, that the people’s fear and weariness grew too. The people began saying: “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” (Nehemiah 4:10). I get it! I’m sure they were thinking: How are we to muster the strength to keep moving rubble and rebuild this completely decimated wall, while also finding the internal and external courage to guard against a scary enemy army?
When we start to rebuild the strength of our life, a force immediately arouses itself and resists the work of God in our life. He will oppose our every effort to get our life together and recover from damage and ruin. And unfortunately, here’s what I know about the enemy — he will immediately take advantage of any fatigue or discouragement we are experiencing. Yep. He will hit us when we are down.
So what can be done? Well when I find myself in a similar place, my first prayer request is to pray that God would step in and finish the project (miraculously and quickly of course) and miraculously wipe out any enemy while he’s at it.
And He has the power to do all that and more. He has done it before. Remember the Red Sea: the weary and newly freed people didn’t have to fight the Egyptians — God just sent the crushing sea to do the job. (Exodus 14). In 2 Chronicles 32, the Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians and wiped out the enemy army before any battle took place. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s prayer that the Lord would strike the enemy army with blindness was answered. And in 2 Chronicles 20, the Lord caused the alliance of enemy armies to fight and destroy each other before the army of God even crested the hill.
However, that is not the kind of answer we see here in this situation. Instead, here, he chose to work through the people–to defeat the threat with the people’s preparedness and intentional connectedness. God didn’t extinguish the enemy, rather he armed and rallied his people. By strengthening and unifying his people, the enemy got weary and scared! That’s what makes this story so special!
Maybe our prayer should be this: God help me to face my fear with faith and help me rely on You. Yet in the face of any threat teach me how to do my part as well. Show me how to pick up my weapon. Prepare me to be on guard. Move me to lean into my community. And strengthen me so that the Kingdom Work in me and around me can keep on progressing. Remind us that although we may catch sight of the enemy and his fiery arrows, we will never have to suffer defeat.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9.)
A question for you: How do you you keep a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other? How do you keep doing the work of the Lord while guarding against the enemy? I would love to hear your perspective and thoughts. Please share your replies with me below.