Spiritual battles are part of the Christian life, and they come in many forms, but always with the same purpose – to destroy God’s mission. Satan is the hand behind spiritual warfare and his chief battle plan is to make God’s servants back down from Kingdom work. He has a great variety of weapons. He frequently uses fear and sin. But his favorite fiery dart is discouragement. And he will often use people close to you. I know this one personally.
After the Israelites were granted their freedom from Babylonian captivity, Nehemiah lead the people to rebuild the walls that protected Jerusalem. But Israel’s enemy (led by Sanballat and Tobiah) did not want those walls back up. They started their opposition with ridicule (Neh. 4:1-3). But Nehemiah and the people called on God to “Turn their insults back on their own heads” (v. 4) and they continued the good work. “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height,” and I love this part, “for the people worked with all their heart” (v. 6). The Israelites were not discouraged or distracted.
But neither were Sanballat and Tobiah. They attacked with more anger and “plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it” (v. 8). The Israelites still did not lay down and quit. “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (v. 9).
Even the neighboring Jews warned them that the attacks would continue and the persecution did begin to wear on them, (v. 12). Nehemiah told them, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (v. 14). And so “we all returned to the wall, each to his own work” (v. 15) with building materials in one hand, weapons in the other, and a sword at their side (v. 17-18), and the assurance that “Our God will fight for us” (v. 20).
Five times Sanballat tried to stop the work, even writing blatant lies, “trying to intimidate me” (6:19). But Nehemiah knew “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’” So he prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (6:5-9). The wall was completed in fifty-two days (v.15) and the enemies “were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (v. 16).
Spiritual warfare is real and it’s ugly, but do not be afraid of the enemy or anything or anyone he uses. Pray for strength. Keep your hand to the work and your Sword at your side. Beloved, God will help you. He will fight for you, and the enemy – and his weapons – will lose. “No weapon formed against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me.” (Is 54:17).