The Adventure of Building
Ever since I was young I have always felt an exhilaration in getting to put my hands to work crafting something new. Perhaps it was the coffee table for the living room my dad and I built when I was about twelve. Maybe the bee supplies I built for my business, gun stocks I’ve worked on, or the raised beds we constructed for our gardens over the years. It is an enjoyable process to take a bunch of mixed materials, put them together, and cut them just the right way, in order to make something sturdy enough to serve its purpose for years.
I can only imagine the way Nehemiah felt when he realized he was called by God to rebuild Jerusalem. He had been struck to the core of his being because the people of God and the city of his fathers were both in shambles (Nehemiah 2:1). In God’s providence, the king granted him the opportunity to rebuild the walls of the city. He carefully began inspecting Jerusalem’s walls. Slowly day by day he rallied the people to begin the rebuilding project. One group repaired over one thousand cubits of the wall which is over 1,400 feet (Nehemiah 3:13). It was a massive project to undertake, yet Nehemiah worked at it as did the people. However, their work was not popular with everyone. As the city began to be renewed they came across opposition. Truly, righteous building projects often do not receive shouts of joy from the masses!
Building With Swords
Nehemiah chapter four records the surrounding peoples’ opposition to the work. We read of the plan Nehemiah implemented in response:
“From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me.”
This passage goes to demonstrate the twofold work before the people. On the one hand, they had to actually build. If all they did was hold swords in their hands, then it would not have been possible for them to complete the project. Likewise, for them to keep up the building project without any means of protection would have been suicide. All the enemy would have had to do was swoop upon them putting an end to their endeavor. Consequently, it is imperative for us to be involved in both building and fighting at distinct points in our life as believers. There are seasons for building, times to pick up the sword and fight, and situations that call on us to do both at the same time. If we as Christians neglect one or the other, we shall be in a perilous position indeed.
Learning From Nehemiah
Putting this concept in plain clothes, we could think of building projects as something like raising a family and sword fighting as contending for the life of the unborn. As you invest day by day in your loved ones, you are seeking to be an influence that builds biblical truth into one another’s life. Brick by brick, you strive to edify one another. Parents invest decades in their children with the intention of growing them in Christ. This work is necessary, it is noble, and indeed it is glorious. However, in our culture, thousands are slaughtered each day in the womb. We must pick up the Sword of Scripture and fight on this matter. That will look different for unique individuals. Nehemiah’s role in the battle was different than the man whose responsibility to sound the trumpet of alarm (Nehemiah 4:18). A pastor will have a different role in the battle for the sanctity of life than a politician and a politician distinct from that of a doctor. Each is necessary and equally glorifying to God having a different part of the wall to stand on with their sword in hand.
It strikes me that we can err in our lives in so many ways. At one extreme, we might build the most beautiful wall ever only to hand it over to the enemy because we were too cowardly to fight, or perhaps too unwise. Another temptation is to simply fight while never actually building anything. Ceaseless Twitter wars of sword rattling often are the perfect illustration of this endeavor. On the one hand, we are left with handing our enemies beautiful palaces, on the other we are do not have anything for which to fight. This necessitates it is vital we not only critique the errors present in our day, but also work to build biblical health in our communities. Pastors in your pulpits, do not exclusively show the pitfalls of sexual infidelity, go further and proclaim what the Scripture teaches regarding building a healthy marriage. Men do not only stand against the culture’s attacks on biblical masculinity, find a man to invest in and disciple him in order to help him walk faithfully in the Lord. The point is to build a strong wall while also grabbing our swords to defend it as necessary. It is not that we are called to do one or the other, we must do both!
Some of you will be called to stations where you must fight more than you build, and others will build more than they fight. All of us must be ready to play our role in both realms and each of us will have to. That necessity is demonstrated in the call of God upon us to resist evil (sword fighting) and pursue holiness in our lives (building). I suppose every Christian shall be called to a unique station on the wall by their Lord. Our job is to be faithful wherever He places us each moment. Let us then labor hard as we seek to advance His Gospel, live in faithfulness, teach all He has commanded. May we work together each building and defending the portion of the wall God has assigned. Then, one day we shall get to look into eternity to see the great work that God has done. We shall see the completed task through the ages and stand amazed at the glorious work He built. On that day, we shall see it was worth it all for the sake of the King whose praises we shall sing forever!