Fight for Your Family

Nehemiah 4:13-14

November 22, 2009 | Brian Bill

I read a book that quotes from a U.S. Government Peace Corps manual for volunteers who work in the Amazon jungle.  Among other things, this manual explains what to do in case they are attacked by an anaconda, the largest snake in the world.  An anaconda can grow up to 35 feet long and weigh between 300 and 400 pounds.   What would you do?  The answer might surprise you…

  1. If you’re attacked by an anaconda, do not run.  The snake is faster than you are. 
  2. Lie flat on the ground.  Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another. 
  3. Tuck your chin in. 
  4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body. 
  5. Do not panic. 
  6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet end-always the feet end.  Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles.  Do not panic. 
  7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body.  You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time. 
  8. When the snake has reached your knees, slowly, and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg.  Then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake’s head. 
  9. Be sure you have your knife. 
  10. Be sure your knife is sharp. 

Friends, there are many snakes out there threatening to split your family and devour your children.  May I remind you in Genesis 3:1 that Satan is called the serpent and it says of him: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.”  Satan is sinister and is intent on swallowing you.  Some of his names from the Bible include Adversary, Accuser, Tempter, Murderer, the god of this world and a Thief.  Make no mistake about it – Satan is focused on families today and is doing everything he can to cause friction, fractures, and failure.  He’s going after your kids and therefore you and I must fight for our families, using the weapons found in the Word of God for “still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.”

Here’s what I want us to learn today: Instead of fighting with your family, start fighting for your family.  Let’s tweak it a bit to make it more personal: Instead of fighting with my family, I will fight for my family. Let’s say it together.  We’ll repeat it several times this morning. Let’s say it again: Instead of fighting with my family, I will fight for my family.

Before we get to our text, I need to give some really brief background.  God’s people have been held in captivity in a foreign land for 70 years.  In three different stages they’re allowed to migrate back to Jerusalem.  Nehemiah leads the third group and his focus is on the walls around the city because they are in ruins.  His job is to mobilize the people in a building campaign. In chapter one Nehemiah prays and God answers, in chapter two God moved Nehemiah from the prosperity of Persia to the desolation of Jerusalem.  In chapter three, we’re introduced to the wall workers and we see that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  Because everyone was working hard, the construction project was really zipping along.  But when we come to chapter 4, things start to get more complicated for Nehemiah.  

External Causes of Discouragement

There are two main types of discouragement – one set of problems come at us from the outside, the other set attacks us on the inside.  Let’s look first at the external causes.  The wall workers were initially excited.  They began the work with great anticipation and joy.  It says of them in verse 6 that the “people worked with all their heart.”   Things were going well, the people were excited, and the wall was going up.  Then something happened.  

if you’re going to focus on building the faith of your family, you will be attacked by Satan the serpent

Getting the work started on the wall was a major achievement, but keeping the workers working proved to be a much tougher assignment.  Someone has said that exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you and right before you realize what’s wrong with it.  Where God is at work, the enemy is also at work.  When people take kingdom priorities seriously, Satan stirs up agitators to block the work of God.   Likewise, if you’re going to focus on building the faith of your family, you will be attacked by Satan the serpent.  These human enemies started with ridicule in verses 1-2: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed.  He ridiculed the Jews…” and then they get so angry that they surround the wall workers on all sides.  Let me make the obvious point that it was God’s will for the wall to be built but he didn’t remove the opposition that came against them.  Likewise, there will always be conflict and challenges in our homes as well.

Internal Causes of Discouragement 

Satan shoots at us externally and He also tries to swallow us on the inside.  2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “In order that Satan might not outwit us.  For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  I see three schemes that Satan uses in this chapter.

1. Fatigue.

Verse 10 reads, “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out…’”  Simply put, the workers were tired.  They were hitting it hard and needed some rest.  The phrase “giving out” carries with it the idea of “staggering, tottering, and stumbling.”  

When you are physically drained, it is very easy to become discouraged at the slightest problem.  It’s also interesting to notice when the workers became fatigued and discouraged.  Verse 6 says that the wall was built to “half its height. When you start a family everything feels real optimistic and then discouragement sets in.  Satan knows that the halfway point is the time to strike because that’s when we’re the most vulnerable.

When the newness wears off and the work becomes routine and boring, then it’s easy to become fatigued.  And when you’re tired it’s easy to become discouraged and to begin to think that you will never finish the job.  Verse 10 says: “…we cannot rebuild the wall.”  They were ready to throw in the towel and the trowel.  These are the same people who were described in verse 6 as those who “worked with all their heart.

Some of you are fed up with your family.  You’re tired of always having to correct and inspect and redirect. 

2. Frustration. 

Verse 10 says that there is “so much rubble” that they cannot rebuild the wall.  They became discouraged because they were so aggravated with the situation.  I’m sure they were encountering old broken rocks, dirt and dried-out mortar, and other debris that was underfoot.  

The trouble with rubble is that it’s everywhere.  And my guess is that your family has a ton of it.  There’s probably some level of dysfunction in your home, a relative with a substance abuse problem, someone with a bitterness issue, husbands who are defensive (that would be me) and another with anger problems.  It feels all too overwhelming sometimes because the Adversary’s attacks are relentless.

3. Fear.

The enemies of the Lord’s work had struck fear in the hearts of God’s people and they felt like giving up.  They are now surrounded by foes to the north, the south, the east and the west.  

4 Ways to Fight For Your Family

Instead of fighting with my family, I will fight for my family

Fatigue, frustration and fear can lead to fractures in your family.  Let’s look briefly at four ways to fight for your family.  Let’s say our motto again: Instead of fighting with my family, I will fight for my family. 

1. Request God’s help.

I’m reminded of an “Adventures in Odyssey” episode when this question is asked to some terrified kids, “Are we warriors or are we wimps?”  The answer comes quickly, “We are wimps, sir.”  It’s easy to feel like a wimp in the face of family struggles.  Nehemiah requested God’s help in chapter one.  In chapter two, he prayed a “popcorn prayer” while he was in the presence of the king.  Now, in chapter four, he prays two different times.  He looked up before launching out, he prayed before proceeding. Take a look at his first prayer in verse 4: “Hear us, O God, for we are despised.”

Notice that while the people prayed, they also prepared.  Check out verse 9: “But we prayed to God and posted a guard day and night.”  It’s very important to ask God for help, and to make sure we have submitted ourselves to Him.  I love this promise in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 

2. Rally your family.

Look at what Nehemiah does next in verse 13; “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest point of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.”  Nehemiah placed them as families so they would know what they were fighting for.  

Don’t miss this because it’s the defining moment for the community of faith.  Nehemiah rallied the families to serve where they were most needed because family bonds of love and protection are very strong.  I can almost hear parents saying to the enemy, “You mess with our kids and you’ll have to mess with us!”  The very future of their families was at stake.  Notice that they were ready to fight – not each other, but the enemy.  I hadn’t really noticed before how strategic it was for Nehemiah to have families rallied around a central purpose until I went back and reread chapter 3.  Check out these verses:

3:10“Jediah…made repairs opposite his house.”

3:23“…made repairs in front of their house…made repairs beside his house.”

3:24“…repaired another section, from Azariah’s house to the angle…”

3:28“…the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house.”

3:29“…made repairs opposite his house.”

3:30“…made repairs opposite his living quarters.”

We need families on board who will stand in the gap!  Imagine if you will that there are functioning families of faith stationed on the walls all around this country, fighting for their families and every other family. 

In verse 16 the workers reorganized again by dividing responsibilities – half worked and the other half kept watch.  Those who worked used one hand for pushing the wheelbarrow, and with the other hand, they carried a weapon.  And, they worked together as a team, prepared at any moment for an attack.

3. Remember who God is.

After looking everything over and sensing the discouragement within his team, Nehemiah refocused his troops in verse 14: “…Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…”  Nehemiah knew, even in the face of opposition, that the success of the wall was wholly dependent upon God who inspired its beginning.  

Does your marriage seem unmanageable?  Are your kids out of control?  Don’t quit.  Don’t retreat; instead remember that the Lord is great and awesome.

Drop down to verse 20.  Because the work was extensive and spread out, and families could feel isolated, we read that Nehemiah came up with a plan: “Whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!”  Families, can I plead with you to do whatever it takes to stay connected with other Christians?  I’m sounding the trumpet!  If you unplug, you will unravel!  Don’t bail on your small group.  Don’t let other things crowd out church because you need a spiritual support system.  You need us and we need you.  When the wall is breeched, we must all come running and fight together.  And that’s when God shows up and fights for us as well.   Did you catch that part?  It’s only after families come together, that it says God “will fight for us.”  

So, when you’re down, turn your discouragement to the One who is able to do something about it.  God has been faithful to you in the past.  He is faithful to you today.  And He has promised to be faithful to you in the future.  Remember the Lord.  Remember His promises.  Remember His goodness.  Remember His power.  Our God is great and awesome!  Remember Him even as your family struggles through friction and fractures.

4. Reclaim your family.

Listen to the last part of verse 14: “…and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  This is the right fight!  Don’t be surprised if your family feels like a war zone but instead of fighting each other, begin fighting for each other.

Some of us, like me, are way too passive in our parenting.  If I’m not distracted by other things, I’m disengaged for no good reason at all.  I might be the head of the home, but Beth is for sure the heart of our home.  It’s time for me to fight for my family.  Let’s say it again: Instead of fighting with my family, I will fight for my family.

I read an article this week called, “Never Give Up Parenting a Difficult Teen” that was posted on  Here’s a section that jumped out at me: “Teen problems usually have to do with hormones, immaturity and brain development.  They are fueled by struggles for independence, identity, and the testing of beliefs.  But all of this is just a phase!  That’s why in the midst of the turmoil, you still need to stick with them, even if you don’t feel your teen deserves it.  The goal during the battle is to keep your relationship with your teen alive….so decide right now, ‘I’ll never, ever quit.’”

Drop down to Nehemiah 4:23 for a moment: “Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”  While under attack they didn’t even change their clothes, which must have pleased the sellers of deodorant.  The point is that they never disarmed and never let down their guard.  They were on task at all times as they fought for their families.

Do all your children know that you will never stop pursuing them or fighting for a right relationship with them?  Chip Clark writes: “Moms and dads need to see their parental role as a marathon, recognizing that building a relationship in which their child trusts them is even more important than whether they can trust their child regarding the immediate issues of the day.”

I find it interesting in the Apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy that his heart was for Timothy to fight the good fight of the faith, mentioning it twice in his first letter (1 Timothy 1:18, 6:12).  And then, shortly before Paul died, he penned these words that we should all strive for in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

The Trouble With Rubble

The people complained about all the rubble in verse 10.  Here’s a question.  Wasn’t the rubble there in the beginning?  Of course it was.  The difference was that when they started the project they were focused on God and His character.  But they had allowed themselves to become rubble-gazers.  Friend, if you focus on all the junk in your life, and in the lives of your family members you will become discouraged.  Let’s determine to be God-gazers instead of rubble-gazers, OK?

It hit me this week that Ephesians 6 comes right after Ephesians 5.  That doesn’t seem too profound on the surface, does it?  But check this out.  The fifth chapter of Ephesians deals with the various roles in the family, spilling over into the opening verses of chapter six.  I don’t think it’s any accident that after we learn about the family we’re told to take up our spiritual weapons and fight in Ephesians 6:10-12: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Psalm 127:1 says that, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”  The battle for the family is won through prayer, pure and simple.  Parenting principles are helpful but if they are not bathed in prayer, your family will falter and maybe even fail.  We must keep our knife sharp because Satan is slithering around, looking to devour our children and wreak havoc in our homes.  1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

Prayer Time

As we move to a time of prayer, we recognize the truth of 2 Corinthians 10:3-4: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?