Nehemiah 4:17 ~ "Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other."
There's a work to be done, a Kingdom to serve and a house to be built for the glory and name of the Lord Jesus. Every believer is tasked to go forward in their lives with this same mindset. Consider what Paul told the Philippians, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). There is a striving, and a firm standing of believers together, that bring about the spread of the gospel while we are here on earth.
Consider the work of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, and let us learn what it will take for us to serve the Lord in the work of the church.
Severe opposition arose in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem as the surrounding nations were furious at the attempt. Nehemiah did not lead the people to put away their tools until the persecution ended, nor did he tell them to try to get along with the nations around them. Instead--he put swords in their hands.
Half the people worked while the other half were armed to protect them (see Nehemiah 4:16). And those who worked, did so with a burden of labor in one hand and a weapon in the other. You might think that it would certainly restrict the effort of rebuilding the wall, if the laborers were limited to one-handed efforts. But keeping their weapons at the ready provided them the opportunity to keep working. It is no mystery that those who are struck down, as well as those who surrender, are incapable of continuing the work.
Let us consider two things we can learn from our text.
First, there is a labor that must take place. The church, today, can easily get caught up in all manner of other endeavors and forget the one thing that is of critical importance for the work--the gospel of Christ. Preaching the gospel, sharing the salvation of the Lord Jesus, and laboring for that end is the "wall-building" given to the church today.
We may carry our burden in preaching, teaching, prayer, outreach, hospitality, meeting needs, and all other means of services in order to do the one thing that God has given us: Go into the world with the gospel and make disciples (see Matthew 28:18-20). They were "loaded in such a way." They were not all loaded equally, nor were they all loaded with the same burden to bear. But they were all loaded to do the work subscribed to them, and they did so with determined effort.
Second, there are enemies against us. It is not right for the church to believe that the world will support our efforts to rescue people out of the world. They won't mind if we agree with them. They won't fight us if we conform to them. But the world hates Jesus (see John 15:18). The cross proclaims their guilt and offers them grace. The gospel is the enemy of self-will and self-righteousness. It demands that a person surrender to the Lord and in humility and with love receive His salvation.
And, as the workers on the wall of Jerusalem carried their burden in one hand and weapons in the other, so the church must be ready to stand firm against the forces of evil that would destroy our efforts out of their hatred of Christ. Do not work with your eyes closed to the enemy around you. Even Paul recognized that both work and war were before him as he preached the gospel, "For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Corinthians 16:9).
But do not fear. God will uphold His servants who labor for the Lord and will ultimately defeat those who stand against Him.
My friends let us labor for Christ, fully prepared to do the work, all the while knowing that there is also a war.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.