DON’T DROP YOUR GUARD! - Nehemiah 4

HalleluYah! Praise our Mighty and Awesome Elohim, El Elyon – El Most High. How many of you have faced some tough opposition of late to your walking in obedience to the Torah of YHWH, even from within your family and friends? The Scripture tells us to love our neighbours and our enemies, possibly because they are generally the same people. Yahushua said that a man’s worst enemies will be from his own house! And many times after much conflict and onslaught due to our obedience, the temptation to compromise and give in for the sake of peace can seem like the more acceptable approach. In Mattithyahu 10 Yahushua tells us that we are not to think he came to bring peace on earth… He came to bring a sword, to bring division…why? Because the division will come over Him, over the Word… some will follow and others will not which will cause great tension and conflict even within one’s own household! For us who choose to take up our stake and follow after Messiah must be daily encouraged and equipped to stand firm, walking in total obedience, not giving in to compromise for the seeming picture of ‘peace’ in the flesh! As YHWH builds us and we are obedient to the task of building His House His Way we need to realise and recognise that the enemy will not stop at trying to interrupt or even halt the building process of YHWH. My message tonight is called, “Don’t drop your guard!” And so I would like us to look at a very encouraging chapter giving us a great example for us to follow, amidst the myriad of attacks that the enemy throws at us in our on-going process of YHWH’s building plan. Please turn with me to Neḥemyah/Nehemiah 4 (Read).

As we look at Neḥemyah/Nehemiah 4, there are a lot of life lessons that we can learn. In chapter 3 we see a clear picture of true community working together, each playing their part in building the wall, representing what it truly means to work together. If someone didn’t do their part there would be a hole in the wall and cause there to be a weakness and possible threat to all. True to what happens in life whenever we are busy with the work YHWH has called us to, there comes times of trials, opposition and discouragement, which often may bring the temptation to quite. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well this is the situation we find here in Neḥemyah/Nehemiah 4. The building was going well, and then along came the opposition!

Tonight may we all be encouraged to not drop our guard as we with great diligence and obedience stay true to the building process of the Bride preparing herself for her Husband, aměn!

The good work he has begun in us, he will carry it on to completion and we need to realise that no amount of attack from the enemy should cause us to be caught off guard as we endeavour to truly guard His commands, showing our love for Him in every way with exceeding joy!

In this chapter we see the remnant of a nation in the process of rebuilding the walls of the city of Yerushalayim and the enemy did not like it one bit. Let me remind you that the enemy hates the rebuilding work of YHWH that is going on!

The enemy will use any tactic he can to stop the people of YHWH from becoming strengthened and able to withstand any attack. In the account of Neḥemyah we see in chapters 4-6 a number of tactics the enemy used in trying to stop the rebuilding process. So let us learn to recognise what these tactics are and be able to withstand them. He used tactics such as ridicule, intimidation, discouragement, fear and selfishness and when that didn’t work he attacked the leadership and tried the tactic of compromise, slander and threats to which none of these tactics proved successful. Wow these guys stood firm and never dropped their guard…but how!

Let us look at some of these tactics used by the enemy and how these same tactics are being used as an attack on our lives today:

1 – RIDICULE! (4:1-6)

One could almost say that ridicule is a language of the devil. There are many brave soldiers who would stand brave and firm in the heat of battle when being shot at, yet will collapse easily when they are laughed at! Ever been laughed at? We all have – and yes it sucks – it gets in real deep and can often cause us to be defeated. The enemy will often and in fact will most definitely insult or mock or ridicule the people of YHWH – it is a primary language he speaks. Goliath mocked Dawiḏ; Yahushua was mocked, insulted, ridiculed and many of the heroes of the faith had trials of mocking and flogging as mentioned in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 11:36. Listen when the enemy laughs at what the people of YHWH are doing, it is often a sign that YHWH is about to bless His people in the most incredible way. The enemy will often laugh at us and ridicule us. How many of you have been mocked for keeping Torah? Guys, how many of you have been mocked for growing a beard, or how about us wearing tzitzits, or calling on the True Name and actually keeping His Shabbat?  When the world laughs at us realise as it says in Tehillim/Psalm 2:4 that YHWH laughs in the heavens at the enemies and YHWH mocks at them!

Here at the rebuilding process – Sanballat ridiculed the workers and called them ‘feeble’ Yehuḏim. The term ‘feeble’ means one that lacks strength, is miserable and unable to complete a task, one who is withered and miserable. To the enemy these Yehuḏim looked like withered flowers that were fading away and lacked the physical human resources necessary to complete the work. But what the enemy could not see was their great spiritual resources. Often what the world does not understand is that YHWH often takes great delight in taking the seemingly ‘feeble’ or foolish and using them as great instruments in accomplishing His purposes. In verse 2 Sanballat ridiculed the work itself with a three in one question:

A – Will they restore? – This must have stirred up much laughter from the enemy. He was in effect saying that there was no way that this feeble lot would have any hope in restoring a wall that would be strong enough against the enemy! The same happens today – people ridicule us saying that we are trying to restore the ‘Old Testament’ to no avail and are wasting our time – why dig up and rebuild ancient ruins is what world and even the church throws at the remnant who is rebuilding that which has been lying in ruins for so long! What is the point many argue – well sadly the masses are reluctant to build YHWH’s house and side with the enemies ridiculing the remnant few who obediently guard the charge of the Torah – to do it with faith!

B – Will they slaughter/sacrifice? – Sanballat was implying here that it will take a lot more than prayer and worship to rebuild the city! This second part of his mocking question was direct blasphemy against YHWH, as Sanballat was denying that YHWH would in fact help His people! So many today will ridicule us by saying things like, “oh so are you going to do sacrifices now,” when clearly there lack of knowledge and understanding is causing them to die in their sin/lawlessness. We are to be a living sacrifice, presenting ourselves unto YHWH daily, dying to the world and traditions and doctrines of men to be made alive through the very resurrection power of Messiah to live for Him and live in Him – putting to death daily the flesh and walking in the Spirit – in His Torah. Yes many will ridicule you for this – but take heart and stand firm in faith!

C – Will they finish it in a day? – Sanballat was suggesting here that they did not know how difficult the task was and that they would very soon call it quits – it is just a matter of time! Wow, how many of you have heard that one? It is just a phase they will grow out of it! So many have been down this road before and realised the waste of time – these are some of the comments of ridicule that are aimed at us to cause us to quit! In other words the enemy will try to tell us that we are wasting our time – a lie from the pit of hell!!!

Sanballat didn’t stop there with the mockery – after ridiculing the work they were doing, he continued in ridiculing their materials – saying that there is no way they bring to life the stones from the heap of rubbish which is burned. If the enemy ridicules our work he will most certainly ridicule our means – “Look at them keeping Shabbat – trying to be ‘Jewish’” is what they will say. I sent out, as I always do, invitations to come and join us for Shabbat service that we have each week in the evening as we are doing here tonight, to which I received a response from a man who used to walk with me reasonably closely,  and who was a regular participant in a men’s discipleship group I ran for many years, who responded to my invite with, “Thanks for the invite, I will not come as I am busy with my friends and family on Friday nights!” Clear and outright – in your face – what you are doing is crazy – this Friday night thing. May I remind you all that what we are doing here is not crazy – it is a joy to come together and worship as a family and sit under the anointing of His Word and His very presence building us in unity, aměn!

Toḇiyah the Ammonite got in on the ridicule thing too – it is amazing how those who are normally enemies with each other can quickly unite as one against the Truth and stir each other into using the very tactics and vices of the devil! Toḇiyah was a visiting dignitary of the Samaritan army who was part of the inspection crew and he began to ridicule the finished product, saying that you wouldn’t even need and army to knock down this wall that they were building – a fox could do it!

You see from a human fleshly perspective their comments may have seemed valid and true for the Yehuḏim were very weakened and poor and the work was great – yet they had put their faith and trust in the Mighty Elohim – YHWH of Hosts – and that is what made the difference.

Neḥemyah responded to the ridicule, how? By prayer to Elohim and asked YHWH to fight for them!!!

Our prayer life is vital – we cannot allow a little mockery or ridicule to stop us in our good work that has been prepared in advance for us and key to this ability to continue steadfast is in prayer to YHWH. Do not let your prayer life slip for a moment!

People can say things that can and often do hurt us – especially when it comes from those who are close to us, but remember that their words cannot harm us unless we allow them to get in to our system and poison us! If you spend time pondering and meditating upon the lies and ridicule of the enemy you give him a firm foothold to launch another attack. Prayer is key  - give it to YHWH – take everything to Him in prayer and let Him fight for you so you can continue to work. Do not allow ridicule to cause you to stop living in obedience to the Torah of YHWH!

2 – INTIMIDATION/PLOTS OF WAR (4:7-9)

The enemy will try to intimidate you – here we have 4 enemies merging as 1 against the people of Elohim, and so they surrounded the city in an attempt to intimidate the Yehuḏim from building! Listen it is often the case that YHWH’s people have a hard time working together, yet what we find so true is that the people of the world have absolutely no problem at uniting in opposition to the Truth of YHWH – they will hold councils and conferences and meetings to unite against the Truth. The enemy tries to intimidate through numbers – he will ‘gang up’ on you – call others to confirm the previous words of mockery. This is where we are to watch and pray – to be constantly on our guard. This is where our faith must be seen in our works – in the doing of His Torah. We must realise that our battle is not in the flesh, but rather against Satan and his demonic forces that are at work against us using flesh and blood to oppose YHWH and His Word that is working in and through us! Your whole family may gang up on you, all your friends may gang up on you – even people that were not friends with each other may unite to intimidate you from continuing in your steadfast walk – do not let intimidation stop you from serving YHWH!

3 – DISCOURAGEMENT (4:10)

Discouragement – a nasty tool is the enemy’s arsenal! Listen, when you are surrounded by threats and danger it is not easy to keep working as normal. It was discouragement that kept Yisra’ĕl from entering the Promised Land at Qaḏěsh and it was the 10 unbelieving spies that discouraged the nation that resulted in a nation wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years until a new generation was ready to occupy the land. Discouragement is a tactic of the enemy to get you to take your eyes off of the Truth and get you to look at the circumstances and surroundings. When one takes their eyes off Yahushua and looks at the physical and self then the attitude of defeat can kick in causing us to say things like, “I am not able!” We know that we can do all things through Messiah who strengthens us – so let not discouragement cause you to lose sight of where your strength and where your help comes from – lift your eyes to the hills and look above and beyond what might be staring you in the face through intimidation and discouragement and realise the Truth of the One who fights for you that you may remain faithful to the task of obedient living!

4 – FEAR (4:11-23)

In verse 12 we see the term ’10 times’ being used and is simply a term used to describe many times. The enemy had threatened continuously – it didn’t stop. This repeated attack of words by the enemy is a ploy to bring you in to a state of fear that will neutralise your ability to stand firm and keep guard of the Word of YHWH. Fear of the enemy will paralyse you and this kind of paralysing fear is very contagious and can so easily paralyse others too, for which we must be very careful of! Fear of the enemy and faith in YHWH cannot dwell in the same heart! That is why Yahushua rebuked His disciples by saying, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith” – The presence of fear can destroy any faith – the deceitfulness of wealth and the worries of this life will choke out the Word – in other words fear of the enemy will choke out your faith in YHWH.

You know that frightened people discourage others and aids in their defeat. There are many today that are in fear of threatening attacks of the enemy and are sadly causing may others to become discouraged, and in the process and disarming their faith through the fear of what may or may not come! Listen the enemy is real and he uses very powerful tactics in order to disarm us of our weapons – let this not happen as we do not drop our guard!

Neḥemyah posted guards on the wall – on the most vulnerable places – families stood together and for one another and the enemy could see that they would not back down and were prepared to fight the good fight of faith! Neḥemyah, a leader whose heart was captivated and captured by the Great and Awesome El of Yisra’ĕl trusted in YHWH and reminded the nation who was fighting for them, encouraging them to look to YHWH. If we would but simply fear YHWH, then we would need never to fear the enemy!

When we face opposition in doing something for YHWH’s sake – for His Name’s sake that is, then we all have a choice to make – will we continue and go on in faith despite the ridicule, the intimidation, the discouragement and fear or will we allow the opposition to stop us and cause us to be defeated!

Listen when things are going well, be on guard – be constantly on guard that is – for the enemy does not want to see the work of YHWH in your life making progress, and the more we obediently serve YHWH’s building process the more the enemy will arouse his attack toward us – stand firm and do not drop your guard is the call here. They did and look what happened  - they finished the wall – of course they did – all things are possible for those who believe and apply that belief!

Guard, guard and guard – do not let your guard down for a moment!

So what are we to guard? Sha’ul tells Timotiyos to guard the ‘good deposit’ – that is the very Word in you. Let us therefore look at what we are to guard, what can cause our guard to be let down and most importantly how we keep up our guard:

1 – WHAT ARE WE TO GUARD?

As I said we are to guard the commands of YHWH, for that is love for Him and in the process of guarding His Word in us, what areas in us are we actually to guard against the attacks of the enemy?

A – Our Heart! – Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the sources of life.

It out of the overflow of a man’s heart that he speaks – for us as children of the Most High El, we have His Torah inscribed upon our hearts and with all diligence we are to watch over and guard His Word (that good treasure) in us.

B – Our Mind! – Romiyim 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you prove what is that good and well-pleasing and perfect desire of Elohim.

Our mind is the main battlefield that we are to guard against the onslaught of lies and emotional attacks the enemy brings by renewing it with the Truth of the Word, guarding it and strengthening the loins of our minds that we can stand firm in our faith that comes by the hearing of His Word.

C – Our Conscience! – Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 3:15-16 “But set apart YHWH Elohim in your hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to everyone asking you a reason concerning the expectation that is in you, with meekness and fear, 16 having a good conscience, so that when they speak against you as doers of evil, those who falsely accuse your good behaviour in Messiah, shall be ashamed.

 We must always be on guard for our conscience can become corrupted!

Titos/Titus 1:15 “Indeed, all matters are clean to the clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving no matter is clean, but both their mind and conscience are defiled.

D – Our Testimony!  Satan wants to ruin your testimony before others and cause you to sin (that is to walk in lawlessness – without Torah) openly and cause us to react in the flesh rather than in the Spirit, trying us to get to think carnally rather than spiritually.

Tehillim/Psalms 51:10-13 “Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Set-apart Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your deliverance, and uphold me, Noble Spirit! 13 Let me teach transgressors Your ways, So that sinners turn back to You.

A clear testimony is:

-          A consistent walk with YHWH

-          An open relationship with YHWH that the world can see

-          Our actions, attitudes and reactions that are honouring unto YHWH.

2 – LETTING DOWN YOUR GUARD – WHAT CAN CAUSE THIS?

A – Compromise – Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve 2 masters – we cannot compromise in the slightest with our devotion. YHWH wants 100% - He is a Jealous El. We cannot be found cooperating with the enemy and trying to do YHWH’s work at the same time – it doesn’t work although the majority or professing believers today are doing just that – they claim to be working unto YHWH yet are falling prey to compromise in their life. In Melaḵim Bět/ 2Kings 17:33-34 we see how it says that the people were fearing YHWH and they were serving their own mighty ones according to the nations – they were doing what the world does! It goes on to say that actually they do not fear YHWH, because fear of YHWH leaves no room for compromise and we are to guard for those ‘little’ compromises!!!

B – Comfort - Falling in to a pleasant comfort zone is often the downfall of many – as they rest in their comfort rather than in YHWH. Let us take guard not to get too comfortable in our reverence toward YHWH. The builders built with weapons in one hand, some swords strapped to their sides – not to comfortable I am sure – but they did it – keeping guard while working!

C – Carelessness – Let us not be found being like the foolish man who hears the words and does not do them, and so builds his house on the sand! We can so easily let our guard down by being careless in our life of worship unto YHWH – through half-hearted attempt that really seeks to simply please and satisfy man rather than honouring YHWH with total devotion!

Careless worship will affect others and is poisonous to the body!

Compromise, carelessness and comfort – 3 causes of a dropped guard – so how do we keep up our guard?

3 – KEEPING UP YOUR GUARD

1 – Prayer – communication with the Father – we see this was a key attribute to Neḥemyah, he took all to YHWH in prayer!

Kěpha Aleph/ 1Peter 4:7 tells us to be sober-minded and attentive in our prayers – listen pay attention while you pray – or else you may find yourself babbling off long winded prayers that are just words with no intent. Fervent and active prayer is of great value!

2 – Expect anything at all times (Keep watch!) – do not become complacent in your walk. The Devil is like a roaring lion and when he throws things at you they are intended to consume you, harm you and destroy you. He worked very hard at trying to destroy the builders under Neḥemyah – and they kept guard day and night! They were watchful – kept watch and prayed!

3 – Do not get distracted – Do not even allow those little distraction that seem harmless go unnoticed, as they will build up and can cause you to fall! Trust in YHWH with your all and do not lean on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in everything and He will keep your path straight that you will not be distracted! When you try figure things out yourself – you may just get distracted – watch for those subtle distractions!

4 – Keep working – Don’t stop working unto YHWH because of a little discouragement, or a rough patch here and there that you may encounter in your walk. What is a fact is that work is lighter when done as a team – we see it clearly here in Neḥemyah 4 – they worked together and kept their eyes,as they encouraged one another, on YHWH

Perhaps you too have faced the attacks of the enemy as you have diligently done your best to excel in walking in obedience unto YHWH by following His Living Torah – walking in Yahushua Messiah. Be encouraged today by this powerful passage giving us great insight into not dropping our guard for a moment. Have you been keeping alert? Have you found that you may have let your guard down and through fear may have even poisoned others into the same fear, where faith has been choked out? Has the enemy sneaked in and discouraged you and so have found yourself having slowed down or even stopped in your work that YHWH has called you to do. My call and encouragement to you tonight is to take up His work and His armour and guard His Word – to do it and not allow the attacks of the enemy to cause you to lose focus. As Sha’ul said to the believers in Corinth:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Master, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Master.

So may we learn from the closing verse of Neḥemyah 4 where we are told they no one took off their garments, not even at the water. Do not let your guard down – He has clothed you with righteous garments of praise and let us be found continually dressed in Him, giving no room for the enemy’s ridicule, intimidation, discouragement or fear to cause us to stop working out our salvation with fear and trembling as we diligently hear and guard to do all He has commanded us to, aměn!

May we be like the Yehuḏim builders we read about in Neḥemyah 4, who built the wall of Yerushalayim being united in YHWH as they had a mind to work, a heart to pray as they remained steadfast in prayer; they had watchful eyes keeping them fixed on YHWH and had open ears to hear – for they were instructed to listen to the sound of the shofar. Mind, heart, eyes and ears – all focused on the Truth – let us too be girded about with His Truth – His Torah as we labour joyously together in Yahushua Messiah and never drop our guard!

Let me close by reading and then sounding the shofar as we realise and recognise who fights for us and who is our rear guard, our shield, our Sovereign and Protector and our strength – that we may too be found to labour in Him excelling in His work, aměn!

Tehillim/Psalm 121 “I lift up my eyes to the hills; Where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from YHWH, Maker of the heavens and earth. 3 He does not allow your foot to be moved; He who watches over you does not slumber. 4 See, He who is guarding Yisra’ĕl neither slumbers nor sleeps. 5 YHWH is your guard; YHWH is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun does not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 YHWH guards you from all evil; He guards your being. 8 YHWH guards your going out and your coming in now and forever.

 

YHWH bless you and guard you, YHWH make His face shine upon you and show favour to you, YHWH lift up His face upon you and give you peace, aměn!

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