Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
Nehemiah and Ezra were tasked with rebuilding the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem after they fell into disrepair. First Nehemiah interceded for his people. He confessed Israel’s sins and admitted their wickedness. Nehemiah honored Yahweh by preparing the Jews to defend themselves with armed force in the face of enemies that were conducting terror operations in the form of guerilla warfare to undermine the rebuilding of the temple walls:
Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, “Be not ye afraid of them! Remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
In Samuel’s time, the Philistines inaugurated weapon control by regulating the metal-smith trade. The restrictions, like modern day gun laws, went beyond simply depriving Israelites from rebelling against Philistine occupation. Palestine, known as Philistia in times past, was a cross-roads where cultural values battled for supremacy. Israel had forfeited more than the ability to make swords- the people had been deprived of the knowledge of who they were:
Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears. But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
History and culture, along with education, decides who determines the meaning of words and symbols. Well chosen words can be more powerful tools of liberation than guns or swords-especially expressions of Gospel truth. The importance of this fact cannot be underestimated. The conduits that deliver education, technology, news and entertainment determine who controls the resources of government, including the power to deploy armed force and the cultural information that shapes the minds of coming generations:
Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
Isn’t the situation described above relating to ancient Israel’s loss of cultural sovereignty comparable to modern attempts to place America and other nations under UN gun control treaties? What is less obvious is that Samuel inaugurated a school in which he taught men & women of Israel to be prophets and lawmakers, judges and warriors. For years, before and after Israel threw off its oppression, the people were taught the forgotten heritage; i.e., how God had raised up men like Joshua & Gideon in days gone by. How the people had repented and called out to Yahweh– a name that was rarely pronounced and is still virtually unpronounceable because of the terrible awe with which the name is endued.
The building of the Republic in the earliest days of the New England colonies was considered to be a rebuilding of the walls of holy Jerusalem. The Puritan forefathers consciously designated the cities they carved in the wilderness as a New Jerusalem:
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that (the strategy of our enemies) was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
“Everyone with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.”
Nehemiah instructed the leaders to prepare the workers so that when they heard the warning of a trumpet they would swarm to the gaps in the walls prepared to fight and ”our God shall fight for us.” By protecting themselves with swords and spears and not depending on Persian troops offered to them, the builders demonstrated that they were trusting in an all-powerful God with tools in one hand and weapons in the other hand! We need to pass on the warrior heritage of Israel to our children!
The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.