Not all who have been called to engage in spiritual warfare will assume their position in the battle. Some no longer believe such battles exist. They have stepped away from the conflict abdicating their role in defending truth. God is calling those with a willing heart who trust in God and His ability to do what our natural talents cannot accomplish to take their assigned position on the wall of defense.
One of the most vivid images of a community of faith coming together while outside forces prepare to attack is found in the book of Nehemiah. It describes the time when the walls of Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt.
To begin the project, each person and their family were assigned a place on the wall to begin the rebuilding process. The collection of those assembled were not all professional builders by trade. Some of those assigned as supervisors to oversee the reconstruction included goldsmiths, perfume makers, and merchants. Sadly, some who in a previous season were assigned to lead God’s people, “refused to work with the construction supervisors” (Nehemiah 3:5).
As the reconstruction began and it became obvious the reconstruction of the wall was making progress, adversaries began to assemble who wanted to stop the work. Scripture tells us that when they “heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious” (4:7). Every process of rebuilding in God’s Kingdom, when it is obvious a refortification is making progress, will be met with opposition. It’s not something that only happened in an Old Testament text. It has happened repeatedly in history, this time of our lives included, whenever the access of hell to God’s people is being limited by a rising sense of oneness in our ranks.
As the work progressed, the people became tired, and with their fatigue, fear began to fill their hearts. When word came of a planned attack, Nehemiah took decisive action, “So, I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows” (4:14).
This text’s most graphic image was the workers stationed on the wall. “The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm” (4:17-18). Nehemiah went on to say, “When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!” (4:20). The workers worked armed and ready for battle.
The people took their defense assignment seriously because they understood the depth of the threat they faced. “During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water” (4:23).
The words Nehemiah spoke at the lowest point of the people’s morale revealed the quality of his leadership. His words are applicable today when we see evil attempting to breach the walls of our communities of faith and when we are tired and afraid of what is coming. “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (4:14).