Faith and Action

November 12, 2019

Nehemiah 4: 13-23

So I took up a position in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall in an open area. Then I stationed the people by families, and they had their swords, spears, and bows. After reviewing this, I stood up and said to the officials, the officers, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them! Remember that the Lord is great and awesome! Fight for your families, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses!”

Then our enemies heard that we had found out and that God had spoiled their plans. So we all returned to doing our own work on the wall. But from that day on, only half of my workers continued in the construction, while the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and body armor. Meanwhile, the leaders positioned themselves behind the whole house of Judah, who were building the wall. The carriers did their work with a load in one hand and a weapon in the other. The builders built with swords fastened in their belts, and the trumpeter stayed by my side.

Then I said to the officials, the officers, and the rest of the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are far apart from each other along the wall. When you hear the trumpet sound, come and gather where we are. Our God will fight for us!” So we continued the work, with half of them holding spears from dawn until dusk.

I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant spend the night in Jerusalem so that we can guard during the night and work during the day.” Neither I nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor my bodyguards took off our clothes, even when they sent for water.

The Jews are scared for their lives. They’ve heard that certain factions in Jerusalem plan to attack and kill those who are working on the wall. We saw yesterday in verse 9 that Nehemiah’s first reaction was to pray. Today, we see him move swiftly into action. He arms and stations half of his workforce along the wall to stand guard. Then, after he has inspected the safeguards and deemed them satisfactory, he reminds his people that the power of God is behind them. We see that the people keep their weapons on them even when they bathe, not letting their guard down even for a second.

When faced with threat and fear, Nehemiah strikes a healthy balance of faith and action. Think about your go-to response in times of difficulty. Do you have a tendency to pray and avoid taking action? Or do you rely too much on your own capabilities and forget to go to God in prayer? What would a healthy balance look like for you?