It was on this day in 1948 that the first truce of many in the Israeli-Arab War was ended. Throughout Israel’s history, there have been many wars and cease-fires, and many starts and stops where peace agreements are concerned – too many to number, quite frankly. Each time war has broken out, though always on the defense at the outset, Israel ends up being the victor, that is when speaking of conventional warfare. However, as history has also shown, in the war of public opinion, Israel most often loses. Furthermore, in this type of conflict, it seems that Israel goes well out of their way in an effort to win over the favor of the nations, particularly the most influential and powerful ones.
Consequently, in this type of warfare, they have a tendency to let their guard down. When they let their guard down in this respect, their enemies gets a foothold and use it for leverage. Rather than obtaining peace with their enemies, their enemies take another piece of land. We could say then, that though they’ve always been victorious on the conventional battlefield, defeat seems to result from the battles that are waged within. Herein is a lesson for you and me.
The Adversary doesn’t typically prevail when he attacks God’s people though external means. When he gains ground, it’s usually because he mounts a successful attack from within. That is why that, from the beginning, his preferred tactic is to get into the midst of God’s people and work from the inside.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Genesis 3:1-3)
From what we read here and, based on what transpires later, it seems that when the serpent engaged the woman in conversation, he wasn’t just in Eden and he wasn’t just in the Garden of Eden. He was actually in the midst of the garden where the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was located. In other words, his attack against mankind was not through external means. Because he had gained access to the midst of the garden, he was able to work against them from within. That he was able to gain access to the midst of the garden is an indictment against Adam; this is precisely what he was supposed to prevent and why God told him to “keep” (literally, guard) the garden.
Using this same principle, consider what happened when Nehemiah and his countrymen were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, after returning from Babylon. The Bible tells us that they worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). In other words, they were working and guarding, just as Adam was instructed to do. It was during this process that a man named Sanballat initiated a conversation with them, wanting to confer with them about what they were doing. Each time he tried this, Nehemiah refused to come outside of the walls; he knew what Sanballat was trying to do. The Bible records his true intention:
Our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” (Nehemiah 4:11)
And so, once again, we can see the enemy’s preferred tactic: get into the midst of God’s people and what God is doing and destroy it from within. That is exactly why the tares, under the cover of darkness, were sown in the midst of the wheat. It was not so that the wheat and tares could coexist, as some in this culture would have us believe, but that the tares might gain a foothold and begin the process of stealing, killing and destroying. The lesson for us is, we must always be on guard. While we’re working, we can’t stop guarding.
Too many times we get focused on our work so intently, that we forget to guard the work; that is when the Adversary is able to sneak in. We must guard that which has been entrusted to us, or else the work may come to nothing. That notion leads to this thought: we must know those who labor among us. Know what kind of people they are. Do they have integrity? What is their character? Are they virtuous people? Remember, the Adversary always presents himself as an angel of light.
Yes, we are to do the work of the Kingdom and occupy until He comes. But perhaps we should take a cue from Nehemiah and work with one hand while defending our work with the other.