Nehemiah’s work was going well, the wall was built up half-way it’s needed height all around the city. The people were enthusiastic. Work was moving along fine. Then, the reality of the situation set in – not for the Jewish people, but for the enemies round about. These poor, defeated Jews were going to pull it off! How dare they! The god of the Jews had ceased care, right? The temple was destroyed. Everyone knew that the god of the Jews had allowed the city to be destroyed because the Temple was profaned and the sacrifices made vulgar. So why would he care now?
Yet, the Jews were building up the city to their God, and the Temple to their God, and once again, offering sacrifices to their God. So, opposition arose. The enemies conspired to attack the city before the wall could be finished.
Then Nehemiah prayed. He didn’t bless their little hearts, but asked God to hold on to the sins of the enemies. He prayed that God would guard the city, day and night, while the people worked. They worked, God manned the turrets.
But that was not enough for the people of the city. They began to complain, to get tired, and they began to listen to the gossip against the city. The people of the City were told by Jews living near the camps that the enemy planned to attack, any day now, on all sides, with uncompromising force. In response, Nehemiah posted guards around the walls. He gathered together the leaders, urged to them to remember who they were fighting for, and with!
The work continued, with half the people working, half the people guarding. Those who worked did so with one arm on the wall, and one on the spear. They had work today, but showed themselves fierce. Nehemiah moved all the outlaying settlements into the city, and they too went to work. The Master Wall-Builder himself worked and guarded, along with his entire house.
During this terrible time, Nehemiah had a Trumpeter stationed, to sound the alarm. It had to be a physiologically draining time for the people of the city – already tired, worked out, and motivated only by history. The enemies knew the weaknesses – you could see that the city couldn’t withstand an attack, and that the people were not fighting ready.
Pastor Nehemiah didn’t take advantage of the people, nor allowed them to work. He stood guard with them, worked along side of them, and not just him, but his entire house. He prayed a difficult pray for us today – something that was needed. He stood with the people of God, and gave no quarter to the enemy. He wanted God to give no quarter either. He placed people where they needed to be, gathered everyone in, and waited, resting fully on the promise that God would fight the battles for them when the trumpet sounded.
Nehemiah’s Night Ride
When Nehemiah rode into the dark,
And stones of ruin cumbered his advance,
And old localities were hard to mark,
Methinks he spent some moments in a trance
Of sounds from past and future — Abraham’s foot
With Isaac’s on Moriah; then the sigh
Of Moses, beyond Jordan doomed to die,
So near the soil wherein his heart had root:
‘Ay!’ thought he, ‘and my own fond suit was met
By earthly and by heavenly sympathy!’
Then came sweet tones from far Gennesaret,
A plash, as from the casting of a net,
The noise as of a Cross grounded and set
Hard by him, and a loud and lonely cry!
Charles (Tennyson) Turner (1808-1879)