“Your blood will flow in the streets!” “Your children will be slaughtered!” “You will be destroyed!” “They are on their way, you all will die!” The terrifying threats were repeated as the faithless Jews from the outlying areas came running into the city with its half-built wall.
The armies had amassed and the troops were prepared for a surprise attack. The Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites prepared their men for the advance against the embarrassment of a city called Jerusalem.
With the force of a seasoned colonel, Nehemiah snapped into response.
“Grab your spears and shields, swords and bows!” he barked as he advanced around the city. “They’re coming, and they’re coming in fast, and if it’s a fight they want, we will give it to them.”
Stonemasons crouched behind the partial city wall with a sword in their hand. Water carriers, and mortar mixers all filed into the city and exchanged their building implements for weapons of war. The entire city held its breath as the unseen army marched closer and closer.
“Don’t be afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight,” Nehemiah’s encouraging words resounded down the ranks. The fear of their hearts bolstered into a solid confidence in God. Nehemiah’s realization had changed the spirit of the men. No longer did they view themselves as solitary defendants in an overwhelming battle, rather in a battle that was being waged against God, they were a part of His ranks, and He certainly could not be defeated.
These Arabians with their swords and fast horses were like ants before an all-powerful, “terrible” God.
Encouraged by the reality of an Almighty God, all of Jerusalem braced for impact.
But the impact never came. Word filtered from the city out to Sanballat and Tobiah, and their advance was halted.
Perhaps if they had caught the people unaware, they could have gained a victory, but not now. The slaughter squad retreated, and continued their empty barrage of insults.
What made the difference in the fight? It was the power of an Almighty God who turns the hearts of kings however He wants to. It was His power that had given confidence to the weak. It was His wisdom that had turned the enemy away at the right time, and spared His people so they could continue accomplishing His purpose.
Food For Thought: Read Psalm 23:5. What does this verse say about how our God relates to us in the face of our enemies?