Always Be on Guard (Nehemiah 4:17–18) - Radical

Always Be on Guard (Nehemiah 4:17–18)

“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.”
– Nehemiah 4:17–18

This is an incredible picture. As they’re rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, Nehemiah and all of these builders have experienced threats from the nations around Jerusalem who are threatening to stop them, attack them, so that the walls wouldn’t be rebuilt. So, what that means is now they’re working with tools in one hand and weapons in the other, because they could be attacked at any moment. Everybody who’s building has a sword strapped to his side while he builds.

Nehemiah 4:17–18 Shows Us to Realize the Spiritual Warfare We are In

What a picture. Just imagine, you got a hammer or chisel in one hand, and then in your other hand, you’ve got this weapon for war, and you’re constantly working and then kind of looking behind you to see, okay, is somebody coming to attack me? And I wonder if, in this picture, there is a great illustration of what life and work are like in this world.

We are working, we’re doing things all day long at jobs, in our homes, in our lives, we’re doing things, and we need to be aware. So yes, maybe not in a way that Nehemiah 4 is talking about, like anybody could attack us at any point. But the reality is, we are involved in spiritual warfare all the time. There are temptations constantly coming at us.

This Verse Reminds Us We are in a Spiritual Battle

In an Ephesians 6 kind of way, our struggle’s not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and powers, authorities of this dark world, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that are all around us right now, all around us. As I’m talking, as you’re listening, as we’re doing everything we do today, there’s a spiritual battle raging around us.

And so, I just wonder if Nehemiah 4 is a great illustration and an encouragement, a reminder to us amidst all we’re doing, always be on guard. There is an adversary who wants to pull you away from God today. He wants to pull you away from loving your wife or your husband or your kids, or your mom or your dad, or people around you, in the way God’s called you to love them.

Nehemiah 4:17–18 Tells Us there is an Adversary

There is an adversary who wants to pull you away from intimacy with God, who wants to lure you in to sin, temptation, in all kinds of different ways. So as you work, as you go throughout your day, as you do ordinary mundane tasks, be aware, there’s a battle that’s raging around you. So, have the weapons, so to speak, in your hand. Be sensitive to spiritual warfare happening all around you every day.

So we pray, God, help us to live like this, help us to work like this, help us to be diligent in going throughout our day, doing all that you’ve called us to do, all that you’ve ordained for us to do, in our jobs and our homes, just in every facet of our life. But God, we pray that you’d help us to do all of these things with a constant awareness that there’s a spiritual battle raging around us.

This Verse Reminds Us of the Temptation We Face

And there are temptations coming at us. That there is an adversary who wants to destroy us today. Who wants to destroy our lives, our families, our work, our witness. So God, we pray for just a vigilance in our hearts. Help us to do all that we do today with an awareness of spiritual battle. Around us and a dependence on you in that battle. God, we need you. Help us. Help us to be vigilant and victorious in battles with sin and temptation today. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

Less than 1% of all money given to missions goes to unreached people and places.*

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Let's change that!