Ezra & Nehemiahby Robert M. Solomon
The enemies try every trick in their book to bring Nehemiah down, but the man remains resolute and close to God. He quietly and urgently takes appropriate action to secure the city, appointing gatekeepers and other residents (Nehemiah 7:1, 3) to stand guard.
It is important to guard what has been built with effort and sacrifice. If we merely focus on building but fail to take steps to guard what has been built, all our efforts may go to waste when the enemy enters to disrupt and destroy. We may have been given a new heart when we place our faith in Christ, but we must learn to guard it. ″Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it″ (Proverbs 4:23). How easily the enemy can influence our thoughts, attitudes, habits, and relationships through what we see, hear, or read. How seriously we should be guarding our eyes and ears through which so much of the world enters us.
In taking steps to guard the city, Nehemiah appoints trustworthy leaders-his brother Hanani, who visited him in Susa, and Hananiah, the commander of the citadel. Hananiah is ″a man of integrity″ who ″feared God more than most people do″ (Nehemiah 7:2). These men have good credentials and Nehemiah is wise to choose them. Nehemiah also gives instructions for the gates to be shut at night and to be reopened only when ″the sun is hot″ (v. 3). This is to prevent spies and other enemies from entering and leaving the city in the darkness, and other illegal and subversive activities. In posting many of the guards ″near their own houses″ (v. 3), Nehemiah exercises wisdom: a man would be extra vigilant near his own house as any breach of security would first affect his own family.
We have to guard what God has blessed us with: our personal walk with God, our families, our churches, and our service for the Lord. We do well to remember that ″Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain″ (Psalm 127:1).
It is easy to be complacent and allow the enemy to infiltrate our lives. The alarm system in an office or home is designed to go off when intruders try to gain illegal entry. In the same way, our regular habits of Bible reading and meditation, prayer, worship, reading good literature, being part of an accountability group, and acting according to a Christian conscience are ways in which we can develop a spiritual alarm system to warn us of possible infiltration by the evil one and his ideas. Above all, we must pray for the Lord's protection to ″deliver us from the evil one″ (Matthew 6:13).
What lessons can we learn from Nehemiah's actions to guard Jerusalem, and how can we ensure that our spiritual alarm system is working well? See 1 Corinthians 16:13.
Read Philippians 4:7. How does the peace of God guard our hearts and minds in Christ? How is such peace connected with prayer (v. 6) and thinking godly thoughts (v. 8)?