“And our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.'”
Nehemiah 4:11 ESV
Last time we watched how the rebuilders took to discouragement, reminding ourselves where to find our strength and hope. Today we see from the enemies’ perspective.
The first thing we hear from the enemies of the builders is their plan to come among them. The Hebrew word for among is tavek – in the midst. But the builders would not know (yada – be aware) or see (raah – be considered, perceive) their enemies were coming until they were right there in their midst.
Has this ever been your reality? Completely unaware, not even perceiving of the enemy of your soul until you were in the midst of a strange and confusing attack? Me, too. From the looks of things out there, many others can relate. Of course, there are always things we are responsible for; none of us are always, only victims. But understanding the Biblical, spiritual reality of warfare can help us perceive rightly.
The second thing the rebuilders’ enemies utter is their purpose for coming among them: to kill them and put an end to the work. Simply put, intimidation wasn’t working, so killing them was the next most expedient solution. Remember, there were issues of political control factored into Sanballat, Tobiah, and the others’ motives. They stood much to lose if Jerusalem succeeded in coming together and uniting under a new governor. Don’t think they wouldn’t stoop to this level.
Neither will our enemy. Don’t think the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms don’t stand much to lose if Believers come together under His Lordship, despite our differences. And powers and principalities will do everything possible to undermine our witness and break apart what His blood brought together.
And please don’t miss the ultimate motive behind the killing: to put an end to the work. The word is shabath, Shabbat, Sabbath – to cease, rest, stop exertion. The same word used for Elohim, Creator God, on the 7th day of creation. To rest.
In our verses today, the builders resting or ceasing their exertion would be contrary to God’s will. The work needed to continue despite fear and discouragement. And what God has called us to must also continue. Fortunately, even in our work, we are called to rest in Him. Not only does He provide the strength and hope to keep working, He commands rest in the midst of it.
Believers, can we rest this Advent season in appropriate ways? Cease our exertion in a healthy rhythm of trusting relaxation in the midst of obedient work? We will miss the beauty of His coming if we don’t. We couldn’t do enough to get to Him, but He came with a pulse and warm breath and pain receptors to us.
Nothing on our part could bring Him, and nothing could stop His redemptive work. Not an engaged couples’ reputation, a political tyrant or a powerful spiritual enemy. He did the work so we could rest.
Shabbat Shalom, this Advent Sunday, friends. He is worthy.