It was another pea soup kind of morning on our commute to school. White fog laid lazily overtop the countryside like a heavy comforter, and showed no signs of rising anytime soon. The cars slowed, sending red hazy light into the clouds behind them.
The headlights coming from the other direction reminded me of The Jungle Book. The car approaching became Shere Khan, his glowing yellow eyes the only thing visible.
The menacing eyes came closer and closer through the fog until soon a maroon minivan rusting at the wheel wells slowly rumbled by. I silently reminded myself that I am nearly thirty years old and my imagination should at some point slow down. #SherekhanTraumaForLife
After we dropped little man off at school, the girls and I were unloading back at the house when a loud noise filled the air. An airplane was landing at the airport nearby, its massive body not far above our home but we couldn’t see anything through the white. The sound was loud enough to silence our conversation as my one year old pointed up. The intense blast reminded me of the upcoming Feast of Trumpets.
Fast forward through the morning a couple hours and there we were at the table, scribbling blue P’s across a scrap piece of paper and reading Nehemiah.
“Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of Ovens. And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.” Neh. 3:11-12
The names go on and on. Names like Hallohesh and Harim, Melatiah and Jadon. All of them small characters in the Bible, listed once: building a wall.
This job was anything but small. These exiles, led by Nehemiah, took a huge risk. They had incredible faith that led them out of the life they knew in Babylon, and out into hostile territory to rebuild a wall that had been long demolished. They faced opposition immediately.
“Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion… and our adversaries said, ‘They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause their work to cease.’
… So it was from that time on, that half of my servants worked on construction while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor.. those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the workers had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.” Neh. 4
These workers had an enemy that they could see watching them from afar, plotting a plan of destruction. So they took up their swords and took up their hammers, and set out a watchman and kept working. And I’m sitting here on this foggy day thinking, Wow. Is this really any different?
When the trumpet sounds this week, may it remind me to the very center of my soul: the body of Messiah has an enemy that is angry with the walls of salvation. We have an enemy that would love nothing more than to come into our midst while we do not know it and cannot see. We have an enemy that would like to kill and cause our work to cease. Like a roaring lion, he seeks whom he may devour.
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God… with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6
If we are going to be doing kingdom work, we need, we need, we need, the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God) girded onto our bodies with the belt of truth. They conspired against Nehemiah by wanting to create confusion and come into their midst without them knowing, and I can tell you the plan has not changed.
May the trumpet sound. Let the warning awaken: confusion is for destruction. Confusion is the fog that will obscure your ability to see the menacing eyes that are but a stone’s throw away.
In all honesty? I can’t see everything clearly. I can’t see the whole picture, the mysterious plans laid out, the easy ABC version of the Bible. I feel like that fog can be thick in today’s world.
But praise be to the LORD Messiah, the trumpet sounds. Through the thickest fog, the sound cannot be stopped. Praise be to our gracious Father, for the still small voice that is leading when we stop and seek.
“Shema (hear!) O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.” Deut. 6:4
Be still. Seek. Listen. Obey.
Take up your armor and keep working.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us- so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise You, God; may all the peoples praise You.” Psalm 67
Abba may Your face shine upon us, so that Your ways may be known on earth. May Your face shine upon us, so that Your salvation may be known among all nations.
Because all of this? Every glorious sunrise, and singing songbird, and every flower stretching arms wide, it is for Your glory. Every child born with eyes of wonder and little fists reaching out, it is for Your glory and praise. May Your salvation and Your ways resound among all nations.
Let’s do this Kingdom work. Like those names listed one time building a wall, this is important. You are unique and valuable. May His face shine upon you. May the armor of God cover you. May the joy of the LORD fill you.
And may all the peoples praise.