S (Scripture): Nehemiah 4:11 Our adversaries also boasted, “Before they are aware or anticipate anything, we will come in among them and kill them, and we will bring this work to a halt!”…
4:18 The builders to a man had their swords strapped to their sides while they were building. But the trumpeter remained with me.
O (Observation): As Nehemiah and God’s people work to rebuild the Temple, the locals begin to plan an attack to stop this construction. Their plot develops, but Nehemiah is made aware of these plans to attack them, so they tell their builders to prepare for the worst – to prepare for battle.
Nehemiah has a man stationed at his side…a man with a shophar. Here is an excerpt from the website Hebrew4Christians.com, regarding one particular use of the shofar: The shofar (ram’s horn) is often used as an instrument of spiritual warfare… For example, the Torah states, “When you go to war in your land against an adversary who is oppressing you, you are to sound an alarm with trumpets; then you will be remembered before the LORD your God and you will be saved from your enemies” (Num. 10:9)
Nehemiah tells his folks if they hear the shofar, rally to it, and be prepared for God to lead them in battle.
The image that stands out to me is that while they are building, their weapons are strapped to their sides. Their first purpose remains: build the Temple. But the moment you hear the shofar, run to its sound, and be prepared for battle. And yet, do not fear, for God will lead this battle.
This is quite the set of mixed emotions. Build, and yet be ready for war! That must have been emotionally exhausting! At one point (Neh 4:23) the workers are told that even when they fetch a drink of water, they are to carry their weapons with them!
A (Application): I can’t shake the image of the worker hammering away, while a sword sits in its leather sheath on the worker’s side.
This has me wondering about how I live my life…how we are all called to live our lives.
As children of God, we all have a calling. We all go about our separate callings, and as we go, we are called to be alert to evil in the world. When the shofar blows, we respond.
What does the shofar blowing refer to in our world? Poverty. Hunger. Discrimination. Evil. (To name a few…)
As the shofar blows…as God calls out to us, we are called to gather as one. And we are reminded that in the difficulties that come to us, we do not face them alone. We rally around one another, knowing that God is taking the lead against our enemies.
We also gather for celebration. The shofar is also an instrument of worship, calling us together to hear stories of God’s great covenant with us.
To where are you called this day? Work? Home? Play? When the shofar blows, with what weapons has God equipped you? (A listening ear? An open heart? Words of wisdom?)
May we know our callings in this world. May we live in a state of readiness to respond to God’s call to do Kingdom work. May we know that God’s everlasting covenant goes before us, stays after we leave, and remains in our hearts forever.
P (Prayer): Lord, lift the fog from our paths. Help us to see the way. Ready our hearts to respond to your call to the Kingdom work you have ready for us. Amen.