Updated: Nov 8
Under the reign of Artaxerxes I of Persia, in the year 444 B.C., there was a servant of the king named Nehemiah.
A righteous man, he was tormented by the news that came to him describing his home of Jerusalem as being in great distress and the walls surrounding the city being destroyed.
After months of prayer and fasting, Nehemiah was given an opportunity to plead his cause to the king when he requested of Nehemiah the reason for the visible loss of his countenance.
"Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies desolate and it's gates have been consumed by fire.?" (Nehemiah 2:3 NASB 1995)
I'm sure you're feeling the same way Nehemiah did.
Oppression falls on us from every side.
Division grows like a cancer.
Anxiety picks away at your peace.
Depression follows you like a heavy shadow.
While we don't have walls around our cities anymore, the institutions that are meant to protect us have collapsed.
We are in distress.
Consumed not by fire, but by fear.
It was in the desperate plea of a broken man that Nehemiah received an incredible response from Artaxerxes.
To go, by order and protection of the king, to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and that the kings soldiers would escort him and the kings lumber would be used to complete the task.
As Nehemiah aptly pointed out, a response that could have only happened "because the good hand of my God was on me." (Nehemiah 2:8 NASB 1995)
So Nehemiah traveled to Judah, and surveyed the ruins under the cover of darkness.
To rebuild the wall alone was a daunting task, yet there was also fierce opposition from governors of the local regions to whom it was "displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel". (Nehemiah 2:10 NASB 1995)
Even so, Nehemiah began to rebuild the walls, "for the people had a mind to work." (Nehemiah 4:6 NASB 1995)
The governors of the provinces surrounding Jerusalem mocked him for his work.
When the work continued, the opposition conspired for war.
Even so, Nehemiah armed the builders so that the work would go on.
"From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates: and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah.
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." (Nehemiah 4:16-17 NASB 1995, emphasis added)
When only the gates had yet to be hung on the walls, the enemy planned to assassinate Nehemiah four different times.
Even so, the work of a seemingly impossible task went on unimpaired.
The fifth and final time that the enemy tried to assassinate Nehemiah is recorded with great clarity.
Having infiltrated his inner circle, a man tried to lure him into an awaiting trap so that they might finally finish him off.
Before the plans execution, Nehemiah perceived by God's wisdom that the man had been hired by his enemies to entrap him.
Nehemiah's response should be studied by military strategists and preachers alike.
"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." (Nehemiah 6:13 NASB1995)
Make note of those words.
I might become frightened, act accordingly and sin.
To live in faith is what God calls us to do.
To live in fear, is sin.
To live in faith means trusting God, putting our faith in Him and and the purposes He has laid upon our hearts, and trusting Him to provide when what is required is beyond our means.
To live in fear means we have lost sight of God, of our purpose and our calling.
It means we put our faith in something else to provide either our purpose or the means to accomplish it.
Nehemiah makes clear, to live in that manner is sin.
How many of us lived this way?
We've foresaken the fellowship out of fear.
We've abandoned our purpose because of circumstance beyond our control.
When what was required of us was beyond our means, we paled with terror instead of putting our trust in God.
We have fled in fear instead of abiding in faith.
Here's the good news:
It's not too late.
It's not too late to return to the purposes and callings for our lives, despite the opposition.
Much like Nehemiah, there is fierce opposition to you having a revived purpose and calling.
But despite the opposition, despite the mocking and threats, and the character assassination, you have what Nehemiah has.
The blessing from the King.
You have his orders.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:19 NASB 1995)
You have his protection.
"For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:11 NASB 1995)
And you have been given what you need to finish the task set before you.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:26 NASB 1995)
There is nothing set before you by the Lord's divine providence that cannot be accomplished.
From a heap of ruins to an impregnable fortress in only 52 days, let Nehemiah's life be an inspiration for your own.
The Lord is at work rebuilding walls. The only thing left to determine is wether or not you will trust him, and take up that calling and purpose for your life that he has given you.
Other texts indicate that Nehemiah was also the one who brought the holy fire for the altar back from the diaspora to Jerusalem.
If you live by that faith, that as Paul describes as being a "shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (Ephesians 6:16 NASB 1995), and you follow His precepts and seek the paths of righteousness, you can be the one that brings that same fire of revival back to your own nation.
You need only to live not by fear, but to live by faith.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jozef Lalka is a former Infantryman with the Canadian Armed Forces and founder of War Doll.
Since releasing from the military, Jozef has devoted his life to the scriptural motivation of the warrior culture, and the mentorship of the next generation. Jozef works as a graphic designer, photographer and videographer while pursing a passion for current global conflicts and how they relate to historical events.