If God be for us, who can be against us? We must keep the faith even when things get especially difficult. God’s people are called to trust God and not fear. Second, they prepared a guard as protection during the day and the night. Nehemiah teaches us that the wise man keeps his head on a swivel (as my old football coach used to say). Being naive is not a fruit of the Spirit.
The world that we are living in is a spiritual and physical battlefield. Most of the world knows this. Historically, most of the civilizations in the history of the world have known this. But it seems that many of us, especially in America, have forgotten this reality.
Cotton Mather, a seventeenth and eighteenth-century American Puritan, wrote that “[Christianity] begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother.” Christianity brought with it prosperity—the Protestant work ethic, Christian morality and laws, the inalienable rights of human beings, the virtues of justice, temperance, and courage. Matther was describing how biblical wisdom, when widely accepted by a particular people, produces an environment ripe for people to prosper.
The problem, as Mather succinctly describes it, is that when prosperity is widespread, people forget its source—the daughter devours the mother. A biblically formed people have a sinful tendency to forget God and begin to worship their comfort and prosperity. They neglect the Creator for his creation, and when that happens, their faith flounders and society collapses. We are in this precarious situation today. We have prospered. God has blessed us, yet most of our society has turned away from him. I pastor a young church in Davenport, Iowa. Most of us are making more money than we were ten years ago. We own nicer houses, drive newer cars, and can afford to go on vacation. But as the Lord prospers us, it’s easy to forget that we are in a war. Opposition can surprise us. How do you feel when a fight breaks out at a hockey game? Pretty normal, right? Okay. Now how do you feel when one breaks out on the golf course? It’d be shocking. Our world is far more like hockey than it is like golf. So many Christians don’t realize they’re playing the wrong game until a fight breaks out.
God has called Christians to build families, churches, businesses, schools, and governments on his Word because Jesus is the King of the nations. The book of Nehemiah teaches us that all of our work will be done in a war zone, with proverbial bullets flying. If building things isn’t hard enough, it’s even more difficult when people are actively set against you and doing their best to stop you by any means necessary. This is why the fourth chapter of Nehemiah is one of my favorite chapters in the whole book of Nehemiah. In this chapter, we learn some common tactics of the enemy, and we get a striking picture of how a godly leader responds to those attacks.
The Response to Mocking and Threats
The first thing we see God’s enemies do is jeer and mock those who are trying to rebuild the wall (Neh. 4:1–3). Mocking is a common tactic God’s enemies use to discourage God’s people from the work God has called them to accomplish.