When you are doing God’s will and following His plan, know that God will fight your battles. You just need to stand firm in the face of opposition.
Nehemiah 4: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of[b] the builders.
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.” (ESV)
Have you ever played paintball? If you haven’t, basically one team shoots at the other team, and whichever has the last man standing wins. At my previous church, I volunteered for a youth event at a paintball studio. At some point, I jumped in and played for one of the teams. The moment I joined them I became a target. They did not care that I was a pastor. I was a target in the enemy’s field, and so they shot at me. That was my last time playing because those paintball pellets really hurt.
When we profess our faith in Jesus and make it public, we join Team Jesus, and therefore become a target in the enemy’s field. Unlike the paintball game where you can decide not to play because you do not want to be hurt, in the Christian faith you have no choice because if you choose to follow Jesus, opposition and persecution are guaranteed. However, if you stand firm God fights your battles.
The problem is that many Christians play for both teams, both for the world and for God. Satan loves lukewarm Christians because they neither follow Jesus nor try to accomplish anything for His Kingdom, but he opposes those with holy discontent. Satan goes after them with all his power of darkness, but if they stand firm God fights their battles.
In Nehemiah 4, Nehemiah and His people were facing opposition because their newly discovered holy discontent devoted them to God’s will, and they were attempting to do God’s work by building the wall. Satan went after them to halt the work of God in and through them, but he couldn’t. Why? because they believed God fights their battles. So, verse 20 says, “God will fight for us.”
Satan doesn’t have any problem with praying, worshiping, going to church, and reading the Bible. His problem is when, out of holy discontent, we stop living for the world and devote ourselves completely to the will and work of Jesus. It is then that he comes after us with all his power. However, if we believe and stand firm in Jesus, God fights our battles.
Are you sick of fighting your own battles? Do you want God to fight your battles? If yes, this passage puts forth three conditions for that: first, God fights our battles when we stand firm in the face of opposition, second, when we stand firm on the Word of God, and third when we stand firm against the attack of the enemy.
Stand Firm in the Face of Opposition
First, God fights our battles when we stand firm in the face of opposition. In verse 1, notice the source of opposition against God’s people. “Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.” In Hebrew, the statement, “he was angry and greatly enraged,” points to the source of Sanballat’s opposition. Kaass means to provoke anger, and charah means to burn or kindle anger.
Why did this make Sanballat furious and indignant? Because of demonic discontent. Holy discontent is always opposed by demonic discontent. We too provoke others to anger when we mention the name of Jesus because Satan cannot stand His name. Out of demonic discontent, he mocked God’s people and God’s plan. Notice verse 2: “And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?”
The mention of sacrifice indicates that he was not just mocking them. He was mocking their faith, that they would pray the wall into existence by an act of God. Sanballat did not know the battle belongs to the Lord and nothing is impossible for God. Verse 3 says, “Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” We saw this character Tobiah in Nehemiah 2:10, and he is here again. He is the quintessential villain sidekick.
Have you seen the movie Mean Girls? My wife made me watch it. There you have a typical bully and her cronies. When the mean girls didn’t get what they wanted they bad-mouthed and plotted their evil deeds. Sanballat may have been a ruler of Samaria and a commander of his army, but he was a bully with his cronies. He was making nasty comments and continued to make serious threats in the following verses.
So, how do we apply this to our life? Bullies will always be there to harass you and mock you, but when you are doing God’s will and following His plan, know that God will fight your battles. You just need to stand firm in the face of opposition. As the great theologian Taylor Swift said, Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, just shake it off.”
Stand Firm on the Word of God
Second, God fights our battles when we stand firm on the Word of God. When facing opposition, some choose to run from it, others dodge it, some try to work it out by reaching a compromise or blindly jump on it with a do-or-die mindset, but verses 4-6 describe a different way, the right and godly way, by standing firm on the Word of God. We see three components to it.
First through prayers: “Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Nehemiah decided to fight the battle on his knees. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.” He knew the battle did not belong to them but to God. So, he took a stand on the promises of God according to the Word because “vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.
Second through the practice of faith: Notice verse 6: “So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” The verse says that they built the wall because the people had a mind to work. Why? Because when you stand firm on the word of God not only do you pray, you practice your faith because your focus is not on fear but faith.
In verse 14, Nehemiah reminded the people, “do not be afraid and remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight.”
Third through patience: Verse 9 says, “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” Nehemiah’s patience wasn’t passive in Chapter 2, and it is not passive here in Chapter 4. They did what was necessary to protect from attacks.
What is the application? Whatever opposition you are facing today, don’t rush to fight back. Instead, fight in prayer against the power of darkness behind your opposition. People are just pawns in the hand of Satan. You may have heard this saying before, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
Stand Firm Against the Attack of the Enemy
Finally, God fights our battles when we stand firm against the attack of the enemy. Verses 7-8 say, “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.”
We see that even evil unites to accomplish its goal, and it attacks from all directions. Sanballat on one side, Arabs to the south, Philistines to the west, and the Ammonites to the east. Verse 8 says the objective was to create confusion because where there is confusion there is division. Division is what Satan desires against God’s plan to restore families, cities, and nations. Reader, when we participate in divisiveness, we ally ourselves with Satan against God’s plans and purpose.
Satan can be very subtle to discourage and demoralize God’s people to defeat God’s plan. We see that here:
First comes discouragement. Verses 9-10 say, “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” While praying, they were guarding day and night. Mentally and physically, they were beyond exhaustion.
Satan waited for this opportunity. He needed only a person or two to infect the whole team. So in verse 10 we see: “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.” They wanted to quit because of discouragement by the enemy.
Then comes demoralization. Verses 11-12 say, “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.”
Reader, the victory or defeat of two opposing armies is not dependent on weapons or numbers, but on morale. If you demoralize a huge army, a few hundred people can defeat them. Their own people were the mouthpieces of the enemy.
There is a lesson for us as believers and as a church. Satan can use a handful of Christians with a critical spirit who may or may not be involved in a church to demoralize a congregation. In my experience, such people see only negativity, they are quick to kill the morale.
Finally defeat comes. God’s people, when not fully committed to God and His mission, can easily be distracted by the tactics Satan employs to defeat them. Discouragement and demoralization are merely distractions to fabricate defeat. I say fabricate because you are never truly defeated if you are a believer; you are only defeated when you abandon your faith.
In faith and prayer, Nehemiah appointed people in verse 13, “by their clans, with their swords, their spears and their bows.” In verse 14, he reminded them of God’s faithfulness. In verse 15, God showed up: “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.”
The rest of the chapter describes a realist approach to faith and life. Look down at verse 20, “in the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us…” Verse 23 continues, “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.”
The Christian life is an ongoing battle, so never let your guard down and never keep your eyes off Jesus. God will fight for you every time. As long as we live in this flesh, we will face bullies like Sanballat who may appear as giants and goliaths but if you are completely committed to Jesus, God will fight your battles.
The question is, are you willing to commit and recommit to following Christ? Will you devote yourself to His will, and attempt to do His work? If your answer is yes, then the application in this section for every believer is to stand firm against the attack of the enemy from within and from the outside. Like Sanballat, Satan attacks from different directions to discourage and demoralize God’s people to defeat God’s plans. Don’t be on Team Satan by being agents of discouragement and divisiveness.
Not too long ago, I was discipling a man who had great potential to do great things for the Lord but suddenly he stopped meeting with me. I tracked him down and discovered he was struggling with some sin and because he could not overcome it, he decided to quit. For him, discouragement came from within. My job was not to beat him down but to build him up.
Discouragement is a great killer of God’s work in God’s people. It distracts us, demoralizes us, and eventually defeats us unless we stand firm in the face of opposition. Stand firm on the Word of God and stand firm against the attack of the enemy. Our battles belong to the Lord.
So, what action steps can you take to prepare yourself for opposition and persecution? Nehemiah was well prepared; therefore, he did not fight with a do-or-die mindset, nor did he flee as soon as it became harder. If you are thinking about quitting on faith, family, or friends because you are worn out, pray and take a practical step, such as going on a retreat. If you are in a dry season and you are discouraged and feeling like quitting, find the source of your discouragement and cut it off. It might be a person or a situation. Regardless, remove the toxicity and stand on the promises of God to see victory.
To those who are not fully committed to Christ or completely devoted to His mission, I appeal to you. Satan has no problem with you, but Jesus does because you are lukewarm. In Revelation 3:16 Jesus said, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Repent and commit to His Will and do His Work.
For those who are committed believers, be encouraged. God fights our battles. But be aware that if we quit, we forfeit the protection of God in our lives. And, finally, whatever you do, do not be on Team Satan, be on Team Jesus by acting as agents of hope and encouragement.