In Chapter 6 of Nehemiah it was more of the same. The opposition continued and crises and problems threatened the very existence of the entire Jewish state. One of the crucial lessons of the book of Nehemiah is that life is a battle from beginning to end. You know by now, my theme this year has been Strong. Sacred. Armed. What does the book of Nehemiah teach us about tactics?
Know Your Enemy
If you haven’t experienced opposition for doing God’s will, or what you know in your heart to be true, it will come—you can count on it. The ultimate source of that opposition is not merely ugly human interactions but according to Ephesians 6, we’re battling against powers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness. Satan has two primary tactics:
- He comes after us boldy: with the ferocity of a beast, a roaring lion seeking to devour us emotionally, financially, physically and relationally. 1 Peter 5:8
- He comes after us subtlety: disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), flattering, charming, attractive, offering enticing promises that will grant us everything and cost us nothing.
The Attacks Continue
When the enemy cannot accomplish his purpose by direct assault, he will often try to win you through deception by offering peace and friendship. These tactics are not only enemy tactics, they can just as easily be used by family and friends or what I call “frenemies.” Lies, half-truths, attempts to undermine your morale, spiritual abuse, and narcissism; just to name a few. (Neh. 6:1-13)
Nehemiah did not succumb to the satanic attacks. He went to God everytime and refreshed himself in the presence of the Lord. Are we doing the same? Are we living lives worthy of God? (1 Thess. 2:12) Do we choose to live life on a different moral and ethical plane than the people around us? We cannot use ungodly methods, even to do what seems good and expedient. We cannot resort to worldly practices even to save our lives. We cannot give into the peer pressure and enticements of this world in order to “fit-in.” God never calls us to fit in with this ungodly world; He calls us to stand out, to be distinct, to not be conformed to the pattern of this dying world.
The Unending Struggle
This brings us to the end of this first phase of Nehemiah’s work. The wall was completed in 52 days. Even the enemies of God had to admit that God was at work in the lives of his people (Neh. 6:15-16). God’s defeated enemies though refused to give up. Satan won’t quit either until he’s finally vanquished and thrown into the lake of fire. Until then, we are still in a battle. As long as we have breath, we must never cease to fight this good battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. That is the lesson of Nehemiah 6.
Perpetuating the Legacy
Nehemiah 7 is the longest chapter in the book. It is largely a list of the families who had been exiled in Babylon and were now permitted to return to thier homeland. After the reconstruction of the walls and their great victory (which was really only the beginning as Nehemiah was Judea’s ruling governor for a total of 12 years) he appointed wise successors and established enduring policies to remain long after he returned to Babylon and the King of Persia, which is astounding in itself.
Nehemiah was concerned with preserving the purity of the doctrine God had entrusted to the people of Israel. The story of Nehemiah is a practical illustration of one of the great truths of Scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 *adapted from Blueprints for Success – Ray Stedman