15 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.
16 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 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19 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. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 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.”23 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.
As the rebuilding of the city walls and gates progressed, so did the opposition from the neighboring regions. Five surrounding regions began conspiring against the Jewish people. Nehemiah posted guards 24 x 7 to protect the city and its people.
When the enemies further conspired to ambush the Jewish people, the people were fearful and lost heart, and the work stopped. Nehemiah then drafted all the men as citizen-soldiers, armed them with weapons, and put their families behind them so they would be brave and have a reason to fight.
As we begin today’s passage, word gets back to the five neighboring regions that the Jews know about their plot and had taken preventative action. Once their threats were exposed, they lost their power over the Jewish people and their advantage was gone.
From that point forward, all the people working on the wall carried their weapon in one hand and worked with the other hand, or had their weapon attached to their side to be ready for trouble at any instant. They worked in this manner from dawn to dusk (v. 21)
Nehemiah also instituted an emergency response plan for the city. Nehemiah kept his trumpeter with him as he patrolled the city walls. If the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the citizen-soldiers were to run to that sound and fight together.
Remember in chapter three how some Jewish people who lived outside the city were helping rebuild the city walls? Nehemiah asked these people to stay within the city walls at night, and not return to their homes outside the city. These people helped provide watch over the city at night as well as during the day. This was also a protective measure for them, as this would prevent them from being ambushed on their way in or out of the city in the early mornings and late at night.
This was a time of the city and its Jewish residents being on “high alert”. Neither Nehemiah nor his guards changed out of their uniforms to “civilian” clothing during this time. They even carried their weapons when they went to get a drink of water.
Do we prepare for spiritual battle and have a game plan to call in “reinforcements” for prayer and help in fighting our battles as Nehemiah did for the physical battles?
If so, have you thanked your “battle buddies” recently for their faithfulness, prayed for them, and let them know that you appreciate them?
If not, what is your game plan? It’s time to pray and get serious about the spiritual battle we’re called to fight. The battle for our hearts is real, and so is the enemy. Peter tells us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
And don’t be paralyzed by fear. As followers of Jesus, remember that “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)