“At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, ‘You must return to us.’
So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.”
Nehemiah 4:12-13 (ESV)
Last time we saw the rebuilders’ enemies seeking to come among & kill them to stop the work. Today we see the surrounding Jews, those who did not gather to rebuild, warning the builders to get away from Jerusalem to avoid the attack.
I’ve been thinking this week about the Hebrew word for return: shub – to turn back. Heaven only know the number of times I have needed to turn back from something that was not best for me. But what about when we are smack dab in the center of what He wants for us? That’s when a well-intentioned “return to us” becomes something we need to stand against.
In fact, that’s exactly what Nehemiah did with this warning from their fellow Jews: He stationed people (amad – to take one’s stand) to fight against the attack. If the Jews who had gathered from surrounding areas to rebuild turned tail and ran, the unity being built and the wall starting to take shape would crumble. No, taking a stand was needed.
I appreciate the two areas listed where Nehemiah stationed the people. Both in the lowest parts (tachti – beneath, depths) behind the wall and in open places (tsechichi – higher place, in the glaring sun). And you may like the word used in this situation for people: am – folk. Just the regular, ordinary folk. No special titles needed to take a stand, whether He’s asking you to humble yourself and be stationed in the lowest role, or with great responsibility in a higher one, smack in the glaring sun. Both are crucial, you know. Surprise defense against an enemy attack can only come from those hidden stations. And the character He can grow in you during such a time is desperately needed in the fight of faith.
Where do you need to take a stand right now? Wherever and whatever He has called you to – whether seeking unity, speaking Truth to power, laying down your rights, loving your enemies, taking up your cross, humbling yourself in a relationship, or blessing those unlike you – the spiritual resistance to which He calls us will not ever be with swords, spears or bows.
After all, we worship a Savior Who left power to humbly take on what keeps us up at night. He laid down authority to let our pride humiliate Him. He set aside an army of angels to walk unarmed into our violence.
As we learn to live between the two advents, may we take on His compelling way of life. Folk aren’t drawn into His Kingdom with brute force, selfish ambition, or unbridled power. But rather by the Light and Joy and Peace His arrival brought.
Wherever He’s called us, lets take our stand on a Baby King in a feeding trough. His humility in the lowest place is what radiates His beauty in the glaring sun.