“And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”
Nehemiah 4:8-9 ESV
Do you remember who “they” are? Those plotting to fight against Jerusalem are Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabs, Ammonites & Ashdodites. That’s a lot of people. Plus their goal is to cause confusion. The Hebrew word is toah – to wander, error, an abhorrence.
Ah, confusion. Have you ever had a season where it seemed to dominate? When you questioned precious truths and felt as though you might lose your ever-loving mind? Confusion is a brilliant military tactic. That’s why the enemy of our souls uses it.
In today’s narrative, these men who cannot seem to stop the building are now seeking to cause the rebuilders to wander. Wander from their new unity, their purpose of rebuilding. For Nehemiah, the enemies of God’s plan wanted him to question the call God put in his heart. And cause him to wonder if it’s worth it. That’s the main way these men sought to “fight against Jerusalem.”
Oh but what does verse 9 tell us? We prayed. Not just Nehemiah. We, us. A thrill of hope.
And they didn’t just unite together under the God – Elohim, Creator of all – to pray. They also set a guard as protection. In the rebuilders’ case, they set an actual guard with weapons to fight back as necessary. But the Hebrew is so cool: for “set a guard,” set is amad (to take one’s stand) against is al (hovered over)and (because of) them is paneh (before the face of). Or “our stand hovered over them before their faces.”
There’s a wonderful way we Believers can come together right now and take our stand in a broken, weary world: Advent. The arrival of God coming to earth is either a ridiculous joke or the Hope of the World. And the Church worldwide will begin celebrating within a week.
Let’s set a guard right now individually and corporately to stand on the kind of God Who would arrive on the scene and change everything. To make right what we were hopelessly unable to. To so relate to our pain He took it upon Himself.
There’s no one else who could love like that. No other way to be saved.