Jump Start # 2772
Nehemiah 4:14 “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”
With Nehemiah’s powerful leadership the walls were going up in Jerusalem. But, something else was going up– opposition. The enemies of God were rallying a force to attack the workers and stop the progress. The threat was serious. Throughout the remainder of this chapter, Nehemiah adds weapons of war with the builders. With one hand they built and with the other hand they held a sword.
Nehemiah does much more than arm the builders. He strengthened their hearts. He reminded them of God and what they were doing. Encouragement drives out worry and doubt. And, here, before our eyes we find a most profound passage. It’s fitting for all times. It’s a must for leaders in God’s kingdom. It’s a passage that dads need to see. Nehemiah saw their fear.
So many powerful truths are built around those simple words:
First, many never see the fear of others. Many do not recognize that others are worried, discouraged or struggling. Life goes on as if everything is fine, when it is not fine. This happens so often within a congregation. People are dying in the pews and no one seems to notice. It could be that some are so focused upon their own lives that they don’t see the fear in others. It could be that some assume that if they are ok, then everyone else ought to be ok. And, the opportunity to strengthen and help is often missed because no one sees the fear. Nehemiah did. And, when the fear is not seen, bad things happen.
Second, Nehemiah took action based upon what he saw. He made adjustments. He gathered the people and spoke to them. He told them about the Lord. In our day, we’d say that Nehemiah preached. But more than that, he had the people gather their shields, swords and spears. He equipped the people. The actions of Nehemiah showed that he was aware of what was going on. He knew their fear. He took appropriate steps to assure and calm the people. Sadly, we often leave people on their own to work through their fears, worries and doubts. We stay the course in our teaching program, never realizing that some adjustments ought to be made to help those who are struggling.
Third, Nehemiah recognized what fear looks like. To do that, he was around the people. He heard what they were saying. In verse 10, the people lost their strength, focus and confidence. Nehemiah knew that. Some wouldn’t know the difference between fear and excitement, joy or sorrow, doing well and the bottom dropping out. Nehemiah knew what to look for. He knew what to listen to. He knew. And, this is the key of godly shepherds and dads in the home today. We need to know what to look for. Can you see that a teenager is struggling? Do you realize when that teen is being bullied and is afraid? Can you tell when some in the family are discouraged? They will drop hints with their words. Someone who is on the ball will pick up on those hints. They will know. The same is true for the church. Paying bills, making sure the parking lot is clear of snow and all the lights are working is not the role, function, nor duty of elders. They have much more important things to do. They must see how the flock is doing. In this period of Covid, that means phone calls, emails and texts. Are some fearful? Are some struggling? Are some slipping? Do you know? Do you know what to look for?
Fourth, Nehemiah didn’t rebuke the scared people. The threats were real. Nehemiah understood that they were real. This is why he ordered the people to arm themselves. He didn’t dismiss their fear as a bunch of nothing. He understood. He took action. He didn’t beat the people down more. He lifted them up. Remember the Lord—what great words. Remember what the Lord has said. Remember what the Lord has promised. Remember who the Lord is. Remember when God’s people faced the Red Sea. Remember when David faced the giant. Remember when Gideon faced a fortified city. Remember the fiery furnace. God was there. God delivered. And, in their recent history, remember what God did to Babylon. The very reason they were back in Jerusalem was because of God’s promises and providence.
We live in scary times. But greater is our God than any enemy we will face, including death. What we need today are some Nehemiahs. We need leaders. We need those who are not barking out orders, but rather those who recognize the fear in the eyes of others. We need men of action. We need men who know what to do. Godly men—leading the church and leading homes.
There are actually two things that Nehemiah saw. He saw the fear in the eyes of the people. He also saw the power of the Lord. Seeing the Lord enabled him to lead the people through their fears.