Thursday, 14 July 2011
Warrior Bride - Pt 2 - Nehemiah, The Watchman
Nehemiah, The Watchman
Nehemiah was a cupbearer. His position was of great importance to the king. He was also a Jew. His people were in recovery, a remnant trying to comprehend what had happened to them and how to move on. The symbol of their worship, the House of their God, had been destroyed. It lay in charred ruins, just like their hopes and dreams.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer. A cupbearer with a heart for how things should be and how God intended for them to be once again. A cupbearer whom God equipped for the job to which he was called.
The story of Nehemiah is a very personal account about the struggle one man has against the despondency and hopelessness of a nation. Amid ridicule and impossible situations, this man’s commitment to reestablishing the Temple and the Law was astounding. He is a cupbearer who becomes a Watchman. In my personal opinion, being a Watchman is a vital component to becoming the Warrior Bride. It would seem that Nehemiah’s willingness to respond to each situation with fortitude and resolve, must be something that we have in our every day responses.
A Watchman is a protector. They are people with an eagle eye, who are acutely aware of the weaknesses of the defense systems surrounding those they are to protect. A Watchman is a navigator. They are people with a strong sense of community, having the ability to maneuver protective forces around the weak links, without sacrificing the work already accomplished. A Watchman is a wise and firm leader. They are people with a powerful determination to set things right, and can enlist the support of all those beneath them without segregation. Finally a Watchman is a force to be reckoned with. They are people who can recognize where the enemy is attacking, and move to deal with that attack swiftly and competently.
All these things are displayed through the eyes of Nehemiah. His competent and organized leadership in the face of much difficulty led the people to make him their governor. His ingenuity in dealing with the attacks of their enemies led the people to respect his opinion and follow his leadership to the letter.
Nehemiah’s purpose was two-fold, to re-build the wall around the Temple and to reestablish the Law. In doing this, Nehemiah fulfills his commission. He is not sidetracked nor do the smoke screens sent by his enemies to take his attention off of the job at hand, deter him. In a swift manner, Nehemiah places protection at the weak spots along the wall, and continues on.
This is such a powerful example for us. How often do things that get our attention off of the job to which we are called, sidetrack us? How often can the enemy place smoke screens in our path to cause us to lose our focus? Nehemiah was a man of careful planning, for even during the sleeping hours, the wall was protected.
With so much in our lives clamoring for our attention, how is it possible for us to find balance, but stay in complete focus? I would say it is by clinging to the Commander. It is by ‘laying aside the weights that so easily beset us’. It is by keeping our hearts clear of the things that pull us aside from our calling.
Examining the heart of Nehemiah, the thing that perhaps strikes me the most is that he chose to identify himself with his people. The remnant was trying to salvage any bits of pride they had left when he came and chose to get dirty with them. They needed someone who could motivate them and believe in their ability to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah somehow understood that with the rebuilding of that structure came the rebuilding of their national and personal pride in who they were. It was his choice. He had lived in the palace and he had served the king.
Choosing to leave our palaces, pulpits or our soapboxes to get dirty trying to restore personal pride in our people is the work of a Watchman. It is a noble and valiant effort, and one cannot choose that road lightly. It means protecting the weak links. It means navigating protection on the night watch, when all those around are sleeping. It means leading through ridicule, difficulties and insurmountable odds. It means rallying a remnant together who have perhaps lost their sense of identity and personal pride, and need the chance to re-build.
A Watchman has a keen eye. Watchmen are people with a powerful ability to see the enemies advances and thwart those opportunities. They do not just see, however, they have a sword to fight with in one hand and a brick to work with in the other. They do not live in a world of their own, not getting dirty or building up themselves.
It would seem that Nehemiah has the true nature of a leader. He is one who works for and with the people he serves. His job is important, but his eye is never far from the weak spot in the wall. He is touched by his people, he is ridiculed on their behalf, and he puts himself in the place of hazard for the sake of those he loves. He does not ask for them to carry out one task which he himself is not willing to perform.
Nehemiah’s story is not unlike some of our churches today. Complacency slips in. Casual sin settles on congregations like a comfortable blanket. Watchmen are sometimes frustrated and weary souls. Nehemiah had brought reform, the people repented. Nehemiah has choreographed the rebuilding of the wall, only to have to close those gates for those who began to disregard the Sabbath. He had helped to rebuild the pride that they had lost through exile and evil leadership, only to have them intermarry once again.
His was neither an easy road nor an easy choice, but through all of it, Nehemiah remained true to the calling of his heart. He bucked the complacency, he battled disloyalty to God, and he struggled through the ridicule of the Law he had worked so hard to maintain.
A Watchman has a somber heart as they must relinquish control and watch loved ones flounder that no longer want protection. Watchmen must fight to the bitter end to do what they can for those who become complacent, but cannot change their message in order to win back those who walk away. They must plead on behalf of those loved ones, those sheep who have wandered off, but must maintain the focus of their calling.
Nehemiah could not allow casual sin to re-enter the camp of his people. He could not turn a blind eye to those ones who began disregarding the Sabbath. No matter how many times they had been warned, forgiven, warned again, forgiven again, they still chose to allow the enemy into the camp. And Nehemiah still chose to get dirty on their behalf, all without sacrificing his own personal mandate.
Perhaps to the remnant, the little things didn’t seem to matter. They probably crept in undetected, or shushed away as insignificant. However, little things when they are heart issues never stay little very long. “Lusts of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life’ seems to encompass so much of what we deal with. If we allow the enemy a place in our mind, our homes, our lives or our churches, even with the seemingly insignificant things, pretty soon our focus will evaporate.
It is possible to imagine that no one would have thought twice about Nehemiah taking a foreign wife, as others had, even though at that time it was against what God’s law established. He still made the choice to remain true to the calling of his heart. His focus remained rock solid, in spite of many smoke screens the enemy threw his direction to catch him off guard. We need our focus grounded and steady. Little things slip in faster than we think. Lust finds a playground in our minds. Pride in the fact that we do not think we sin, swells our chest and has us believing we are above all of that weakness. Whatever we see that we want, we must have, disregarding any call to financial stewardship and materialistic balance. These are issues of our character that don’t make any difference to anyone but our Commander/Bridegroom. No one else see that playground in our minds, or our credit card bills. No one sees our chest swell with pride as we watch our peers confess the sins of their heart.
It is my belief that Nehemiah made the choices to be true to what God was calling him to. I believe that he chose to not disregard the Sabbath, just like once before he chose to leave the palace. It is our choice as well. If our focus or vision is blurry, it is our heart that needs to become clearer.
A Watchman is careful to guard himself as well as those he loves.