Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”
~ Ziad K. Abdelnour
Rebuild & Defend
After 70 years of exile in Babylon, the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their homeland. Nehemiah led the 3rd group of returning Jews in 444 B.C. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah and his followers discovered the city walls in ruins and Jerusalem utterly defenseless against her taunting enemies. Much to the irritation of the surrounding aggressors, Nehemiah led the people in rebuilding the walls to protect their city.
It wasn’t easy.
The work of rebuilding is hard enough, but they were also under the constant threat of attack from people who were determined to see them fail (Neh 4:11-12). Half of the men worked to rebuild the wall while the other half stood armed and ready to fight off their attackers. The men carried supplies with one hand and their weapon with the other. All the builders had a sword strapped to their side (Neh 4:16-18). They worked this way all day as long as they had even the faintest glimmer of light and they hardly rested at night because they were always on guard (Neh 4:21-23).
But they weren’t alone.
They had each other. They were spread out along the wall, but whenever one was attacked, they all rushed in to defend. No one had to fight alone. It wasn’t “every man for himself.” The weak were never left to fend for themselves. The people completed their work and defended one another as a single cohesive unit. Nehemiah told the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Neh 4:20)
A Great Lesson for Us
In our modern lives, we also have a lot of important work do. We face attacks, difficulties, and setbacks too. We may not have neighbors coming at us with swords and spears, but we do have an enemy of our souls who seeks to undo us. And like the Israelites in ancient times, we are very spread out.
What they had that we seem to be missing is the trumpet. They knew the work was hard and the fight was real, but they also understood they didn’t have to do it all alone. Somehow, we’ve forgotten that last part.
People have always lived and worked in community. It’s how we were made to function best. Something about our modern lifestyles and independent American mindset has made us think we can win at life alone. We can’t. If we’re going to succeed, we must learn how to lay down our pride and pick up our trumpet. Asking for help isn’t showing weakness. It’s showing the quiet strength of humility. It’s allowing others to be blessed by helping us. It’s letting others minister to us the way we have ministered to them. It’s the way God intended for life to work.
In the midst of our crisis, at the point of attack we have got to be willing to sound our trumpet and call for help.