The walls of Jerusalem were pulled down and the Temple was destroyed. In a swift response to the news of the deplorable conditions of the Jewish exiles who had returned to rebuild Jerusalen, Nehemiah returned to Jerusalen himself to encourage and mobilize his people to rebuild the broken walls of the city and repair its burnt gates. But when their adversaries led by Sanballat and Tobiah saw that Nehemiah and his work force were making significant progress in the rebuilding of the broken wall, they became very angry and employed several means to frustrate and stop them (Neh. 4:7-10).
The principal means, strategy, or weapon they employed against them was fear. They employed every means to frighten Nehemiah and his work force so that they could stop their progress and thwart their plan and purpose.
Sanballat and Tobiah sent frightening news of their intention to invade Jerusalem ten times to Nehemiah (Neh. 4:12). When that strategy failed to put fear in the heart of Nehemiah, they employed some prophets to prophecy false and frightening prophecies to Nehemiah so as to manipulate and control him through fear (Neh. 6:10-14).
But Nehemiah and his work force confronted, quenched, subdued and overcame all the fiery darts of fear their adversaries fired at them and thus accomplished their goals in fifty-two days. They surely have some great lessons to teach us on how to confront and overcome fear which is the devil’s chief weapon and means of paralyzing and stopping us from pursuing and fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives. Let us learn from them.
Firstly, Nehemiah recognized fear as a sin. He vehemently refused to flee to the temple to hide according to the counsel of the false prophet hired by Sanballat and Tobiah. Nehemiah insisted he would not “act that way and sin.” (Neh. 6:13 NKJV).
Any time we speak, pray or act in fear; we sin against God. Unfortunately, many prayers we offer personally or in our churches today are borne out of fear of our enemies. Sadly, many believers today are being influenced by the fear of past failure, personal inadequacy or discouragements.
Your victory over fear starts with you understanding or acknowledging that fear is a disobedience to God’s command that you should not fear. God commands: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Isa. 43:1 NKJV). Any of your action that is not borne out of faith is a sin in God’s sight; “for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23NKJV). A believer who is operating in fear is indirectly saying that God’s words and promises are untrue and unreliable, and that God is incapable of keeping His promises.
Secondly, Nehemiah’s spiritual perception or discernment enabled him to overcome fear. Sanballat and Tobiah hired many prophets to pronounce frightening prophecies to Nehemiah that he might be afraid and hide in the house of God. One of them even counselled Nehemiah thus: “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” (Neh. 6:10 NKJV).
But through spiritual discernment, Nehemiah perceived that God did not send the prophet and so he refused to believe and obey his prophecy and counsel. Nehemiah said: “Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.” (Neh. 6:12 NKJV).
There are many false prophets in the world today and even ‘Job’s comforters’ in our own churches sometimes whose ministry is to go about given words of discouragement to manipulate and frustrate the work of God. Unlike Nehemiah who refused to be frightened or controlled by any false prophets and to hide in the temple, there are many undiscerning believers today whose cower in fear of such negative words.
You need to pray for spiritual discernment and be versatile in God’s Word lest someone manipulates and defrauds you through false words, visions or dreams. The Scripture warns: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NKJV). Understand that Christian Unity is Jesus’ deepest desire for His Body and your commitment to it, positions you with Him in pursuing the greatest of all goals. Jesus said “Abide in Me….and you will bear fruit” Jn 15. The sensitivity and accuracy of our discernment will be directly proportional to the degree of intimacy we have with Him.
And thirdly, Nehemiah and his work force were able to waste and defeat all the arsenals of fear their adversaries rolled out against them because they were watchful and prayerful. They too were fully armed with weapons of war even while being busy rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. When their adversaries heard about their alertness and preparedness, they gave up on attacking them (Neh. 4:9-15).
It takes putting on the whole armour of God and being watchful in prayers to recognize and quench every fiery dart or arrow of fear the enemy may fire at you. Be alert spiritually; allow no one to sow the seeds of fear in your mind through any means. Watch what you allow your ears to hear, your eyes to see or read.
Dear friend, remember we are also called to restore and rebuild, like Nehemiah, the broken walls of division and disunity in the Body of Christ in our towns, cities and nations where we live today. Similarly we too will be bombarded with arrows of fear and discouragement on all sides like Nehemiah was because Satan hates, above all else, to see unity in the Body of Christ.This work is a priority on Gods agenda because the prayer of His Son Jesus, cried out in such agony of heart, still echoes contnually in His ears and will do until it is fulfilled “Father I pray, that they may be one just like We are one…..so that the world may believe” (Jn 17 v 21 and 23). Satan too knows the scripture that says “Where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands the blessing!” (Ps 133).
Let us arise today with fresh encouragement in this work of unity that we are all called to and let us not be discouraged by the opposition of others, even amongst some glergy, ministers, pastors who still seem disinterested about the quest for unity in the Church. Let us press on by putting on the whole armour of God and standing firm in prayer on God’s Word. “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Eph. 6:16 NKJV).
Be encouraged! Remember that Jesus said “I will build My Church (which sometimes means to restore) and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it!” and He is even more committed to that than we are.
GOD IS ON THE MOVE and great things ARE happening…..even here in the South West!
Howard and Tricia Barnes
The Body and the Bride Network Ministry. UK. Cornwall.