We must be fully submitted to God to defeat the Enemy’s attempts to keep the church of today from being healed of its brokenness!
[SW139] 05/03/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Spiritual Warfare”
First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild. Then we act upon the inspiration of God, the heart of God which we have sought and got!
But in the midst of the building, the Enemy who is Satan will mock, despise and attack us. How do we defeat him? Spiritual warfare!
Jesus has shown me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:
Chapter 1 — Intercession
Chapter 2 — Christ’s provision
Chapters 2 and 3 — His Inspiration and Strength
Chapter 4 — Spiritual Warfare
Chapter 5 — Conviction regarding sin
Chapter 6 — Discernment
Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance
Chapter 10 — Consecration
Chapter 13 — Cleansing
Ezekiel 22:26-31 describes the spiritual condition of Israel that led to the Babylonian exile of Judah (southern Israel) about a hundred years after Samaria (northern Israel). Judah had sinned greatly against the Lord, and refused to listen to the prophets the Lord sent to them, who warned them to repent. And so God sent them into exile in Babylon for 70 years.
Nehemiah interceded for Jerusalem after his countrymen brought him the sad news that the city was in great distress and reproach, with its wall broken down and its gates burned with fire.
He asked the Lord for favor with King Artaxerxes, and reminded the Lord of His promise to return them to Jerusalem if they returned to their God.
He found favor, indeed! The king sent Nehemiah with authority, timber, officers of the army and horsemen to rebuild Jerusalem.
Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, with something God was putting on his heart to do for Jerusalem. After surveying the destruction, he spoke to the people:
Come, let us rebuild
The hand of my God has been favorable to me
The king supports us
Enter the Enemy, in this case represented by a Horonite (that is, from Moab). Sanballat’s name means “may sin (the moon god) give him life.” He was the governor of Samaria, which used to be northern Israel before they were sent into exile because of their sin. The King of Samaria peppered the land with a mixture of followers of many gods.
When he heard of the repairs (so cool — the literal word is healing), Sanballat mocked, despised, accused. He was furious (2734 burning with anger) and very angry (3707 provoked). So he insulted them in Verse 2. I love Sanballat’s last words in that verse: Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble, even the burned stones?” Oh, yes! Our God can revive the church and make her living stones again (1Peter 2:4-10)!!!! All things are possible with God:
Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “ With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
Mark 10:27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “ With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
Sanballat’s cohorts are Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab. Tobiah chimes in with Sanballat. What the Jews are building will fall under the weight of a fox. Thus, the Jews who are building become demoralized.
Does Nehemiah get armed men together to physically attack the Enemy? No, he calls on God, in Verse 4-5. God, not Nehemiah, put it in Nehemiah’s heart to restore Jerusalem. Since it wasn’t Nehemiah’s idea, he was able to call on God.
So the whole wall was joined to half height, for the people had a heart to work.
What does the Enemy do when he sees us succeed in rebuilding? He forms a conspiracy to come and fight against and destroy the rebuilders. But we have One who has come to give us His life, His power, His Spirit abundantly!
Does Nehemiah get armed men together to physically attack the Enemy? No, he prays to God. He calls on God, he prays to God and sets up a guard. Prayer is the offensive weapon in spiritual warfare, and guarding is the defensive weapon:
2Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . .
And from the Interlinear Greek-to-English literal translation:
Ephesians 6:10 Be made powerful in the Lord, and in the might of His strength. Put in all the armor of God, for you to be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the rulers of this world, of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenlies.”
And the last weapon spoken of in Ephesians 6?
Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints . . .”
In Nehemiah 4:10, the people of Judah confess that they are unable to rebuild the wall in their own strength. God will do it!
The Enemy plans to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), but Christ has come that we may have His life in us, abundantly! And if we have His life in us, the Enemy has nothing on us.
The Enemy plans to attack and kill and put a stop to the rebuilding.
The Jews who lived near them heard of their plan, and told the leaders 10 times that they would come up from every direction and attack — words of fear, spoken 10 times. It is as Israel did in Numbers 13:33, coming with a bad report that they were like grasshoppers among the people of Canaan. These are words of unbelief!
Did Nehemiah form an army to physically attack the Enemy? No. He armed the people, but they were to stand:
Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Do we have no armor for our backs? Of course we do:
Isaiah 52:12 But you will not go out in haste,
Nor will you go as fugitives;
For the LORD will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
The people feared. But Nehemiah exhorted them to remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for what He has promised you (Verse 14). Because God put the rebuilding into Nehemiah’s heart and it was not a scheme Nehemiah cooked up on his own, God would fight for them!
Remember what happened to the people when they decided to enter the promised land anyway, after the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief? They were defeated. It was their idea, not God’s, to enter the land after God’s rebuke and His promise that they would wander 40 years in the desert before entering the land. There is no victory if the Lord is not in the midst, beloved!
Once the Enemy heard that their plan had been discovered and God had frustrated their plan, they could not carry it out. So the rebuilders continued their work. But not without the armor (Verses 16-17).
And a trumpeter was assigned to blow the trumpet if he saw the Enemy approaching. He would sound the trumpet and the people would assemble themselves where the trumpet had been sounded. But they would not fight — God would fight for them.
The work went on from the rising of the dawn to when the stars came out. Half of the workers held spears for defense, even carrying their weapon to the water, and never removing their clothes. They stayed in the city continually, not leaving to return home, so they could both guard and labor without ceasing.
Admonishment to today’s church:
Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)! Pray for the rebuilding of the church!
Beloved, unless you are submitted to God, He will not hear your prayers, and you will not defeat the Enemy who is continually conspiring to keep the church from being rebuilt (James 4:1-7)!
Submit to God, beloved. Ask Him to change your heart, to give you a new one, a heart that is not out for its own interests, that does not demand its own rights, that does not hate, but one that completely belongs to God and is filled with His love. The Enemy cannot stand and will retreat, his attack foiled, if we are fully submitted to God, and following what He has put into our hearts, and not our own imaginings.
The Lord will be your rear guard under these circumstances only:
Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the LORD.
Go out of the midst of the world, purify yourselves. Then He will go before you, and He will be your rear guard, and you will have victory over the Enemy!