Many people believe that Christians should never take up arms, even in self-defense. But today’s Bible reading* gives a Biblical case against pacifism.
When Nehemiah sees that his enemies are threatening to attack his builders, he prayed for God’s protection. But not only did he pray for God’s intervention, he also placed a watchman on the wall. (Nehemiah 4:9)
Later, he had his workforce to alternate between working on the wall or protecting those who were were. (Nehemiah 4:6, 21) Finally, he requires his builders to wear a sword strapped to his waist all the time, even when off-duty. (Nehemiah 4:23)
Nehemiah was a wise leader. He knew the importance of asking for God’s protection. And he recognized the practicality of having bows, spears, shields, and armor for protection. Half of these weapons are defensive (for protecting) and the other half are offensive (for defending).
We see a parallel when Paul tells the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. Some of the armor Paul lists is defensive (e.g, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness) and two elements are offensive (the sword of the Spirit and the javelin/spear of prayer)
Can God protect His people without them taking up offensive weapons? Absolutely! He did it with Gideon’s army. They only had clay pots, torches, and trumpets. (Judges 7:16-18)
But God normally protects His people by giving them wise leaders who know that “spiritual” protection doesn’t negate having “practical” elements.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: