“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 4:17
If there is any passage of scripture that illustrates how your adversary the devil will relentlessly attack you, it is the story of Nehemiah. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the people of God set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Initially, such a task seemed overwhelming to God’s people and the sight of the crumpled remains of the city wall only served up feelings of discouragement. Nearly one hundred years had passed since God’s people had returned to Jerusalem from exile. Though the temple had been rebuilt, the city itself was barely occupied. Because Jerusalem had no wall, the Jews were in danger of losing their identity; for many of the Jewish people had settled in the outlying villages and towns rather than the holy city of Jerusalem, and had mixed with various foreigners. This was the setting in which God called Nehemiah to be the building foreman for the Jerusalem city wall project. But as they began the reconstruction, another wave of discouragement hit. Neighboring enemies threatened invasion, and made plans to tear down any progress made on the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. North of Jerusalem were Sanballat and the Samaritans. South of Jerusalem were Geshem and the Arabs. From the east were Tobiah and the Ammonites, and coming from the west were the Ashodites. All of these enemies rallied together to unite for the common cause of attacking Nehemiah and God’s people. But even with this factor entering the equation, God continued to use Nehemiah in a great and mighty way as he encouraged the people of God to complete the task placed before them.
The opposition recorded in the book of Nehemiah serves as a reminder to all of us that Satan opposes God’s people. Just like Jerusalem’s enemies, Satan will attack you from every direction and angle possible. Because of this, you need to keep an eye out and beware of his strategies against you. He is the ultimate enemy and the great destroyer, and he desires to tear down the walls of your life. God is in the construction business but Satan is in the destruction business and he plans to do anything and everything he can to prevent you from serving the Lord. But an interesting truth oftentimes overlooked within Nehemiah’s story is found in our text above. The Bible tells us that the workers on the wall had a trowel in one hand to work with the clay and mortar while in their other hand they carried a weapon to fend off the enemy. And as you read the rest of the chapter, you will find that the workers worked in shifts. Half of the men worked on the wall with a trowel in one hand and had a sword in the other hand, while the second group of men stayed guard and kept watch against the enemy. By the use of shifts, they were able to stay focused on the task before them, and never lose sight of the nearness of their enemies. But it is the ambidextrous behavior of the workers on the wall that fascinates me; they served the Lord and defended Jerusalem simultaneously, and did so holding a sword and trowel.
We need to be serving God ambidextrously! We must serve the Lord and keep watch all at the same time. Don’t drop your guard against the enemy; for he is ready to attack you at any moment just like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Instead, be prepared to defend yourself against as he strategically plans his attacks. Hold a trowel in one hand while holding a sword in the other!
– Pastor Eric