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"Fight for Your Sons and Your Daughters, Your Wives and Your Houses"

(Nehemiah 4:14)

by

Ian McPherson

"And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses".

The text is spoken to men who had a massive task to perform. To rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It had been about 150 years since the city, in all its splendor had been razed to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar's army. There was rubbish, old burnt rocks and materials everywhere. These were to be cleaned up, and the massive walls rebuilt. To give an idea of the task "The total circuit of the modern walls is about 4,326 yards or nearly two and a third miles. Their average height is 35 ft. and they have all together 35 towers and eight gates" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans Publishing Co. Vol 3., p.1002).

This task was even more awesome, when we consider that they were not skilled tradesmen (just ordinary family men, like us). Added to this was the pressure of enemies who were trying to thwart their efforts.

The text is directed to men, not women. Nehemiah in encouraging them to fight for their families and their houses. The exhortation then is to spiritual men. It was them who Nehemiah was relying on to get the task completed. We must take admonition from these verses. The exhortations from the text are as follows.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

CHRISTIAN MEN ARE TO BE THE SPIRITUAL LEADERS OF THEIR HOUSES. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." ------ "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" --- Ephesians 5: 23,25. This verse likens we men with our families to Christ and the church. As spiritual men we must have the same type of concern for home and church as Christ has. The spiritual man will love his wife and family enough to even die for them. What husband among us for example would flee from a burning house to save himself, if his wife and family were still in the house. What father among us would feed the last crust of bread to himself, if his wife and family did not have food?

SPIRITUAL MEN ARE OFTEN CALLED ON TO MAKE DIFFICULT DECISIONS. The men in the text had to decide whether or not to leave off fighting and go home, or to stay and fight. The army of Samaria led by Sanballat and Tobiah had risen up against them. They were angry that the Jews had returned to the land and wanted to stop them whatever the cost. We see how they mocked and ridiculed the builder's efforts trying to make them believe that the task was too great, and their capabilities too limited (1-3). They had every intention of killing the Jews in order to stop the work (Nehemiah 4:11)

The easiest way out would have been to throw in the towel. The Dads could have gone back to their house, compromised their faith, and lived out their lives in relative peace. Staying to fight was the most difficult decision. If they chose to fight, and continue to build, they ran the danger of their wives and families being either killed or taken captive and enslaved.

SPIRITUAL MEN HOWEVER PUT GOD FIRST (even above the physical welfare of their family).
Jesus said,"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." --- Matthew 10:37-39.

Christians in the early church were often in the position of either denying their Lord or being killed by torture. They would be subjected to such things as being burned at the stake, fed to wild beasts, fried in oil, beheaded, or crucified. In this type of environment it is easy to crumble. It would only be the strongest of men who would stand.

ANTIPAS .WAS ONE EXAMPLE OF A CHRISTIAN PUTTING GOD FIRST.
He is mentioned in the Lord's commendation of the church of Smyrna:"I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth" --Revelation 2:13.

Antipas lost his life fighting for the cause of Christ. Although the world would have scoffed at his decision. His family (if he had one) would have been left without a father and husband on earth. However they could look up to him in admiration, heads held high, knowing that their family leader had died faithfully for the cause of Christ. How proud they would have been when this exhortation was read to the church at Smyrna. They would certainly have to endure hardship without him, but he paved the way for them to go to heaven. This is all we read of this great man of God, but what a great commendation from the Lord. This is one of the few Bible characters of whom we can be absolutely sure that he died faithfully in the Lord .

MEN TODAY ALSO FACE DIFFICULT DECISIONS IN THE CHURCH.
Doctrines must be contended for, even at the expense of family. For example consider the marriage divorce question (Matt 19:9; 5:32; Romans 7:3-4). These verses plainly tell us that God does not accept marriages that are formed involving any divorcees except those who had obtained a divorce for fornication. There are many however like false prophets Tobiah and Sanballat who ridicule those who make a stand on this truth. To yield to the temptation and accept the adulterous couple into the church fellowship, would be the easiest decision. Many have yielded to such decisions, deciding to blend into some sort of compromising relationship with liberal minded brethren, to avoid family conflict and the straining of fellowship with other brethren who would not take a stand..

However in yielding to pressures these brethren make a decision that is destructive to their own soul as well to their families soul. They also influence other weaker brethren who will not make a stand, and start traveling along the broad way.

The spiritual man would take the more difficult road, because, it is the right one from the Lord's perspective. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" -- Matthew 7:13-14. "Strait" means "difficult". The easy road is rarely the right one to take.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE ENEMY
"And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease" -- Nehemiah 4:10-11 His own people were becoming discouraged, and started feeling that the task was hopeless. When pessimism sets in, there is little chance of accomplishing anything. Negative, complaining brethren are the church's greatest enemies. These were good men, who were supposed working with him, but they had been influenced by the enemies threats and mockings. Pessimism and discouragement began to spread. His own men were becoming his enemies. Paul had this problem with the Galatian brethren who were so soon removed from the gospel. He said Galatians 4:16 --- "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"

There are unfortunately many sound men who are like this today. They do not teach error. They work hard when every thing is going well, but begin to crumble when their faith is tested in battle. They throw up their arms in despair, saying "The task is too great there are just too many liberal minded brethren and false teachers." Pessimistic and negative brethren are standing on the side of Satan.

The pessimism of the surrounding Jews added to the difficulty. Nehemiah 4:12 --- "And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you" They were not contributing one iota to the building of the walls. They were simply hanging around putting a negative stamp on the work. These were continually coming past. They were saying "Whatever you do you can't win. The enemy is too strong. Why not surrender?" These type of people are worse than the active opponent. Brethren, when we get together we need to do so for edification. Don't knock the efforts of men who are fighting the battle, but rather encourage and strengthen them. Consider some who encouraged leaders in difficult tasks

AARON AND HUR HELD UP THE HANDS OF MOSES DURING THE FIGHT WITH THE AMALAKITES
Exodus 17:12-13 --- "But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" If men cannot enter the battle, then surely they can encourage the ones who are.

SHECHANIAH ENCOURAGED AND SUPPORTED WHEN EZRA HAD TO HANDLE UNSCRIPTURAL DIVORCES
Ezra 10:3-4 --- "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it." This great man of God was among those who had transgressed. But he appreciated the difficulty that faced Ezra and he encouraged him to do right.

THE CHURCH NEEDS OPTIMISTS.
We need men with the spirit of Nehemiah who will not give up. He was willing to keep fighting for truth no matter what the odds.. .

He had the same type of spirit as Joshua and Caleb who believed God's promises. In Numbers14: 9 we see them trying to encourage pessimistic Israel."Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not."

REMEMBER THE LORD WHICH IS GREAT AND TERRIBLE

SPIRITUAL MEN BELIEVE THAT THE BATTLE WAS WON BEFORE IT EVEN GETS STARTED.
With the Lord on our side there is no possibility of defeat. Too often we look at the greatness of the task instead of the ability of the Helper. The same walls and giants were conquered by Joshua 40 years after the pessimistic Jews had died in the wilderness. The optimist remembers God is with him The pessimist leaves God out of the picture.

Compare our efforts at fulfilling the great commission with that of the disciples. Colossians 1:23 --- "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;" We see that the gospel reached all creation in their life time, and we have not touched the hem of the garment. The difference I believe is that they fully believed the promise of the Savior in Matthew 28:20 --- "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

WITHOUT THE LORD, SUCCESS WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE.
However, with the Lord on his side the enemy was like butter in Nehemiah's hands. They built the wall in just 52 days. They believed the exhortation in Romans 8:31 --- "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" If we put our trust in the Lord it is impossible to lose the battle.

FIGHT THE BATTLE

IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THE LORD DID NOT USE MIRACULOUS MEANS TO DEFEAT THE ENEMY.
He simply empowered his people to accomplish the task.. This inner power is still available to us. Ephesians 3:16-20 --- "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."

THE LORD EXPECTED THEM TO DO THE WORK.
He does not do anything for us that we can do ourselves. We notice that PRAYER WAS OFFERED. Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He never stopped praying even amidst turmoil and strife. Notice his prayer concerning the enemies, Nehemiah 4: 4-5 --- "Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders."

We do not often pray this type of prayer (for wrath upon the enemies), but we should do so more often. We should have a hatred for what the false teacher is doing to the church. It was abhorrent to Nehemiah to see people actively opposing God's will. We also should feel abhorrence. John commanded.. "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it". -- I John 5:16. Notice how Paul felt about the Judaising false teachers who had infiltrated the Galatian church, and were"perverting the gospel" (Gal. 1: 6-7). The New Revised Standard version of the Bible has rightly captured Paul's indignation towards them in Galatians 5:12 where he said .. "I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!" By way of exhortation, let us remember that it is not the false teacher himself that we are to hate, but what he is doing to the blessed church. Notice how God feels about it. Ezekiel 18:32 --- "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."Hell is such a terrible place, it makes us shudder to consider anyone being cast into the eternal fire. We must make sure however that that their influence does not cause others to be lost as well (Matt. 23:15; I Tim. 3:16-18)

THEY WATCHED NIGHT AND DAY (V9)
Spiritual men must be alert and prepared for the enemy. The devil is always roaming around seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Notice some of the warnings to "watch" in the New Testament."Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." --- Acts 20:31; "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." I Corinthians 16:13; "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." --- I Thessalonians 5:6

THEY ARMED THEMSELVES WITH WEAPONS (13) We cannot go into battle unarmed We must fight the good fight with the spiritual weapons that God has given us. II Corinthians 10: 4-5 says "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"

Notice the exhortation to Timothy the evangelist. I Timothy 1:18-20 --- "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." Hymenaeus and Alexander had become false teachers. Timothy, as a gospel preacher was to withhold his fellowship from them. He could not enter into battle with the enemy by his side.

WE HAVE THE CHURCH HERITAGE TO DEFEND.
Those in the text had their Jewish heritage which was the true religion of their day to defend. Their ancestors had been taken into captivity because they had yielded to the pressures of the people around them. This generation had the privilege of returning to the land, and once again, enjoying a special relationship with God. It was a "do or die effort".

We have the church to defend (Not a denomination, but the true religion of our fathers) There is nothing greater to fight for than the church. As spiritual leaders of church and home we are to leave a spotless and unblemished church to our sons and daughters. Over the centuries Satan has tried to destroy it, but it has survived. It has been split, abused, and aggressively opposed. It is battle worn (and diminished) but still here.

WE MUST REMEMBER WHAT THE EARLY RESTORERS FOUGHT FOR. Forefathers in the Restoration movement, raised the church out of the rubble of denominationalism and restored it to its original splendor. They laid the foundation for the heritage which we in the Church of Christ today. enjoy. There are modern day Tobiahs and Sanballats who are wanting to capitalize on its weaknesses and stop progress of its growth. We must fight to defend the institution for which Our Lord died. Nothing else matters.

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