DISCERNING THE ENEMY (Part 1 of 4)

  1. When Radars Fail to Function Well…

In the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza, Israel has had to conduct a sad funeral for some of its own citizens killed in error by its own soldiers who had been searching for those same citizens but mistook them for the enemy when they found them.  Those were Israeli abductees who had managed to escape from their terrorist captors and had been running towards their would-have-been saviours who shot them dead, and regretted later.

A United States military base got bombed by terrorist drones because the radar system at the site mistook the incoming enemy projectiles for their own drones returning to base.  Some soldiers were killed and many were wounded.

Casualties can result on either side of a conflict when radars are defective and unable to tell enemies from friends.  In spiritual warfare, the truth is no less applicable.

  1. The Haters of Your Progress

A man wishing to justify himself once asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).  He thought it was important to be clear on who was deserving of one’s kindness; who was one’s friend. That was what led to Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. “Who is my neighbour?” is an important question, but it seems to me no less important to also be able to identify one’s enemies. If you know somebody for who they really are, you are better positioned to relate with them and not be taken by tragic surprise.

Who is an enemy?  Are there Bible signs by which we might tell an enemy even when they are not chasing us with a gun? In many ways the Bible defines or describes an enemy.  It gives us clues by which we can tell who an enemy is.  The story of Nehemiah has some of those clues, as in the following passage:

1. When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it — though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me (Nehemiah 6:1-2, New International Version).

Nehemiah was ordained to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem and thus take away the ancient reproach of that holy land, but some fellows were desperately incensed at what Destiny had set him up to achieve.  His joy was going to be their sadness; his progress pained them, and they sought every means to ensure that he never fulfilled his mission in life; that he never got any achievement that was going to give him and his generation joy.

While Nehemiah worked hard at his business, those fellows were “scheming to harm” him.  The arrow head of those schemers were Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem.  When those men heard that Nehemiah had made landmark progress in his project, it pained them terribly.  Why?  The answer is in how Nehemiah identified them; it is in the name by which Nehemiah called them: “our enemies.”  They were enemies of his progress. Good for him that he recognized them early for who they were.

So, who is an enemy?  How do we identify them?  From the foregoing story of Nehemiah, the first answer is that an enemy is anyone who does not want to see your progress, and works feverishly to see you fail; anyone who opposes what should promote you, who is saddened by your joy and happy at your sadness, who works to ensure your sorrow instead of your happiness.  That is definition according to Nehemiah.

  1. When Plotters Become Sudden Friends, Beware…

On the occasion that our passage reports of, when those enemies heard that Nehemiah had achieved so much, they did not present an outright attack anymore, as plain threats seemed to have failed up till that point.  In the past, they had mocked, taunted, threatened, sabotaged, yet all of those attacks had failed.  They were not going to attack or confront him anymore.  They were going to change their strategy, and pretend to have become more enlightened, more accommodating and conciliatory.  The goal was still the same.

They invited Nehemiah to a meeting in the countryside, a needful retreat from hard work; a pleasurable getaway to some classic resort in a calm village.  But the sensitive Nehemiah caught their plot.  He wondered how people who had always opposed him had suddenly become friends; how men who had never wished him well were now extending such hospitality to him.  He had a hunch, and he was not going to throw off that uncomfortable feeling about known enemies suddenly turned friends.

Strategically, your enemies will not always attack. Sometimes it is in their tactical interest to support you, or to appear to be doing so, while they bid their time for the opportune moment to give the killer blow, which might not be a blow after all but a killing kiss. Delilah did not kill Samson with a blow or a sword. She killed him with kisses, but he was dead all the same.  He died suddenly without knowing that he had been dying gradually.

From The Preacher’s diary,
January 10, 2024.

Continued in Part 2 of 4

 

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Victor Sunday
Victor Sunday
5 months ago

God bless you for all theses post

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