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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 4:7-23 (ESV)

Posted on October 30, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 4:7-23 (ESV) - But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 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. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. 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. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.

Question to consider: How does this image of Israel being ready for battle while they do their work compare with our lives as Christians?

It must have been exhausting to continually be on high alert and ready for battle as well as spend their days working to secure the city. However, it was the Lord who strengthened them and gave them success despite having the Samaritans and Arabs trying to destroy them. Honestly, I think this scene pretty much sums up the life of God’s people ever since the rebellion of Adam in the garden of Eden.

Peter gave this advice to the churches which were facing persecution, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) “Preparing your minds for action” was literally translated as “girding up the loins of your mind.” Peter saw the life of a Christian as one of doing the Lord’s work while being ready for the attacks of the enemy.

The rest we find in Christ is a rest from works of the Law. Christ has imputed to us His righteousness so we are not continually striving to earn the Lord’s favor. However, in this life, we do not see rest from the scorn and judgment heaped upon us by the world. In fact, Peter would say in that same letter, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

The Israelites were facing this same fiery trial while they did the Lord’s work in rebuilding the walls. It may have been directed by the Samaritans and Arabs in this situation, but ultimately, the battle against them was from the evil one. There was only one city of the living God. All of the other cities were ruled by Satan and his demons who disguised themselves as gods, and so there was always going to be someone trying to stomp them out.

Under the New Covenant, Christ reigns from Mount Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem. As Jesus told Pontius Pilate before His crucifixion, His kingdom is not of this world. We are therefore aliens and strangers who are proclaiming Christ’s kingdom to those who are hostile to this message. Miraculously, the Holy Spirit continues to use this proclamation to cause the enemies of God to repent and seek refuge in Him, and His kingdom continues to grow and prosper.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for changing the hearts of Your enemies and offering rest and peace in the finished work of Christ. Please help us to serve with joy and persevere amidst the attacks of the enemy who wages war against our souls. Amen.