Summary: When you have the right tool for the right job, you can accomplish what you set out to do. In order for the remnant to accomplish the job that God had called them to do, they needed the right tools. They needed the tools of vigilance.
Remember last week we saw how there were two kinds of enemies who were coming against the remnant. There was an outside enemy and an inside enemy. One rule of combat is that you have to deal with the most imminent threat first. In other words, you have to deal with the closest enemy first. Whatever is going to kill you first is what you have to worry about first. So, it’s interesting to me the order that Nehemiah dealt with the enemies. Back up in verses 7-9, he pointed out the fact that they had some outside enemies. He pointed them out, but all that he did to deal with them was watch and pray. He didn’t spend a whole lot of time planning an active defense against them. Why? Because he had more pressing matters to deal with. Before he could concentrate on the outside problem, he had to deal with the inside problem. Because the inside problem was the problem that would kill them the quickest. How many churches do you personally know of that have been torn apart because of people and issues coming at them from outside the walls of the church? Probably not very many, if any. But how many do you know of who have been torn apart from the inside? It was the same way for the remnant. Nehemiah knew that internal problems would destroy them a whole lot quicker than their outside enemies would. So he dealt with those problems first. He led the people in conquering their discouragement. They conquered it by listening to and spreading encouraging words instead of being drug down by discouraging words. They conquered it by taking their eyes off the rubbish and putting them back on God and the mission He had given them. And the third way they conquered it was by making a transition. They transitioned from dealing with the inside problem to dealing with the outside problem. You see, just because they had conquered the inside enemy didn’t mean that everything was rosy. They still had an outside enemy waiting for them. It’s just that now they were going to be able to deal with them. You’ve heard me say it before. Nothing unites like a common enemy. We tend to forget who our common enemy is when we begin to fight amongst ourselves and get discouraged. Who is our common enemy? 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I thank God that we don’t have infighting and strife in this church. But we don’t need to take pride in that. Instead, we need to always stand guard against it. Our enemy is not each other. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It was the exact same way with the remnant. They had overcome the problems of internal strife and discouragement. But just because they had, didn’t mean that they could sit back on their laurels and brag about what a great fellowship they had. They still had an enemy to fight. So the last thing that Nehemiah told them to do in verse 14 was to fight. But this time, instead of fighting with each other, he told them to fight for each other. And that’s where we find ourselves in our passage tonight. The remnant has conquered the enemy within. Now it’s time for them to stand against the enemy outside. They were to do the exact same thing that Peter told us to do with our enemy, the devil. He didn’t say that we’re to attack him. He didn’t say that we’re to worry about him and focus all of our energies on him. What did he say? He said that we are to be sober—we’re to be serious about him. We can’t underestimate the threat. We need to take serious steps to guard against his tactics. We are to be sober and we are to be vigilant. The dictionary defines being vigilant as being “alertly watchful especially to danger.” We are to be alertly watchful of our enemy the devil. Just like Nehemiah led the remnant to be alertly watchful of their enemy. But vigilance doesn’t just happen. It is something we have to equip ourselves for. We have to equip ourselves with the tools of vigilance. It seems like anytime I set out to do a project at home, I have to go to Lowe’s or Sears to buy a tool. Part of that is because I like to buy tools. But most of it is because, in order to do a job the right way, you need the right tools. The right tool for the right job. And when you have the right tool, you can accomplish the job you set out to do. In order for the remnant to accomplish the job that God had called them to do, they needed the right tools. They needed the tools of vigilance.