Remaining Steadfast in Battle
Heart to Heart

Remaining Steadfast in Battle
by Candy Summers

 While residing in the security of Susa’s citadel, Nehemiah inquired about the Jews who had escaped and survived captivity and about Jerusalem. Upon hearing of their great distress and the destruction of Jerusalem’s wall, he sat down and wept. For days he mourned, fasting and praying, praising God, confessing sin, pleading on behalf of the sons of Israel, and calling upon Him for help.
 Even though Nehemiah lived securely in the king’s palace, his concern was not for himself but for the well being of God’s children. Knowing full well that “unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it,” instead of forging ahead with his own agenda or rushing ahead of God, Nehemiah went directly to his all knowing Father to seek His guidance and help. Full of reverence for his majestic, awesome God, he worshipped Him and then waited until God ordained the work and empowered Nehemiah personally for the task. Then, only after he was empowered from on high, he proceeded to rally the people to arise and rebuild the wall. “So they put their hands to the good work.”
 Humility before God, a deep reverence for His majesty, waiting upon the Lord, and compassion for God’s people mark the Lord’s servants for His service. God uses men to build His kingdom; Satan uses men to destroy it. Once the building begins, God’s arch enemy also begins using everything in his power to stop the work, and if necessary, slay the workers.
 When the enemy heard of Nehemiah’s work, he sent his workers to mock and accuse him of rebelling against the king. But Nehemiah was a man of great faith and answered them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build” (Neh. 2:20).
 Nehemiah was not building a kingdom for himself. Being called by God for such a time as this, he was building it for God and God’s people. Since God was Lord of his life and Master Builder of this work, he knew God would bring it to completion. “For all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
 Now the enemy became furious, for he knew the importance of this mighty work. He mocked the Jews and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?” (Neh. 4:2).
 Powerful satanic weapons—doubt and discouragement—come directly from the pit of hell where an endless spiritual arsenal awaits the enemy’s ruthless and never-ending tactics of harassment. God warns us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered a little, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).  “Now it came about when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. And all of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem … and said, ‘They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them, and put a stop to the work’” (Neh. 4:7-8, 11). “We prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night” (Neh. 4:9).   When Nehemiah saw their fear, he rose up and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people and said, “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight …” (Neh. 4:14). “Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon” (Neh. 4:17).  Nehemiah remained steadfast and relied on God’s protection for he knew that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayers and petitions pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:12-18).  Nehemiah had unshakable faith in his Almighty God, knowing full well that no enemy could stand against God’s power. It was, and is, this shield of faith that is able to extinguish all the fiery missiles of the evil one. For God did not remove the fire from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but walked with them through the fire. “For you shall walk through the fire and not be burned.”  Now it came about when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab, and to the rest of our enemies that Nehemiah had rebuilt the wall, that no breach remained … that they sent a message to him to meet them because they were planning to harm him. But Nehemiah, full of God’s vision for the great task at hand, with God’s calling still ringing in his ears, said to them, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3). Four times the enemy requested his presence. Four times Nehemiah stood firm and resisted.  Satan, “the Lord of the flies,” operates like swarming horseflies that suck blood from here and then there. The enemy uses this clever warfare tactic to draw us away from God’s work. However, Nehemiah knew how to resist and faithfully man his post—a most vitally important quality for a leader. For “he who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).  “… as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God … it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:1,2).  In this case, Nehemiah, entrusted by God to rebuild the wall, was found to be trustworthy, staying on the job and seeing it to completion. To this God says, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).  When distraction tactics fail, the enemy resorts to false accusations against the brethren to undermine their leadership, destroy their credibility, and frighten them into running away. For this time, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his servant to accuse Nehemiah. “You and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together” (Neh. 6:6,7).  Satan, “the father of lies” and “the deceiver,” continuously uses lies to destroy God’s servants. Most leaders like Nehemiah leave the safety and comfort of their surroundings to fulfill a task they do not desire for themselves but to please God and fulfill His request. Jesus, “King of the Jews,” suffered death at the hands of His earthly foes, not because He was God incarnate, but because His title, King of the Jews, threatened the jealous ego of the presiding “religious” rulers. Jealousy and envy are Satan’s most powerful weapons to slay the righteous. He whispers pride to a few in order to stir the masses to slaughter the sheep.  How does Nehemiah respond? “‘Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your mind.’ For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘They will become discouraged with the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands” (Neh. 6:8,9).  Steadfast and solid as a rock, because his feet were planted firmly on the Rock, Nehemiah exhibited a leader’s greatest quality—he feared God more than many. He stood the test and remained standing at his post. He did not worry about his reputation; he only concerned himself with pleasing God. That’s all that mattered.  God continually commands us to “fear not” and to be “strong and courageous.” Nehemiah knew his Master and knew how to stand firm—he prayed! “O God, strengthen my hands.”  ‘For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever; But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip. The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord, and keep His way.… The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord helps them, and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (Ps. 37:28-34, 39-40).  This calm, quiet spirit was not indifference to insults and lies, but an inner peace grounded upon the only One who can give true protection, peace, and joy. He knew by Whom he was created; for what purpose he was created; to Whom he was accountable; and Who really loved and cared for him.  It came from seeking Him and Him alone—reading His Word, praying without ceasing, and seeking His will in all things. It was knowing that, “‘Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones. And all your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great. In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you. If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals; and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin. No weapon formed against you shall prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgement you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord” (Is. 54:11-17).  When distractions, harassments, discouragement, and false accusations fail, the enemy often hires others to frighten us into sin. “And when I entered the house of Shemaiah … he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you.’ But Nehemiah said, ‘Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.’ Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me” (Neh. 6:10-14).  “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” Diligently heeding God’s warning is the only sure way to prevent taking the wrong path that leads to destruction. “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).  Often men start out taking God’s vision down the right path, only to end up in hell. The path to life is narrow and few may enter in, but the path to destruction is wide and many enter therein. Why? Because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and cannot be trusted. Woe to us if we give in to our flesh.  “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” This is the true meaning of putting on the armor of God. None of us are capable of standing up to the wiles of the devil. Only in prayer can the battle be fought and won because we fight not against flesh and blood but against the principalities of the dark side.  It is not sufficient to just have a vision. Anyone can have a vision, but God          entrusts His vision to a trustworthy steward who has proven himself to be steadfast. That only comes from daily practice of putting on God’s armor—waiting and watching so that when the heat of battle strikes, God’s steward remains calm, steadfast, and faithfully mans his post. Satan cannot stand before a man clothed in God’s armor.  “So the wall was completed … And it came about when all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Neh. 6:15,16).  “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory … You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord … It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken,’ Nor to your land will it any longer be said, ‘Desolate’; but you will be called, ‘My delight is in her,’ And your land, ‘Married’; For the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.… And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you. On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent.… Go through, go through the gates; Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway; Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.’ And they will call them, ‘The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord’; And you will be called, ‘Sought out, a city not forsaken’” (Is. 62:1-6,10-12).