What does the Bible say about physical security in the church? How are we too respond to physical threats today? We recognize as followers of Christ we must hold to a Biblical worldview in all areas of life, but what does that look like when we talk about security? This is the introduction to a new series of articles which will be released each week examining what the Scriptures teach us about security related topics.
One of the most common verses used throughout the church security landscape today is Nehemiah 4:9. It says ”And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” This verse is the response by Nehemiah and God’s people to the opposition and threats of Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites. In Nehemiah 4:7-8 they are presenting opposition to Nehemiah’s efforts to lead the rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah 4:9 was Nehemiah and his peoples’ response to the threat and opposition. We should be using this same two-pronged approach to threats and violence the church is facing today (We will distinguish martyrdom and threats and violence later in this series of posts).
First, we need to pray just as this verse describes. We are called to be people of prayer throughout the scriptures. We are to pray for ourselves, our families, our friends, our enemies, our government, our society, our culture, and every other aspect of life. (Matthew 6:6; 7:7, Luke 6:27-28, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9, 1 Timothy 2:1-3). 1 Peter 3:12 states “For the eyes of the Lord our on the righteous, and the ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” We must recognize God hears our prayers and we are to be people of prayer.
Second, we need to recognize we need to post a guard. The word translated guard in Nehemiah means one who is watching over for protection. This word is used eight times in the book of Nehemiah alone. In the context of Nehemiah we can read in verses 4:17a-18 “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.”
The concept of posting a guard is not just found in Nehemiah. In I Chronicles 26:12-16 we can see the watch established that will take place by the gatekeepers at the gates. They were tasked with the protection of the city and people. We can see in Jeremiah 51:11 “Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for the Lord has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon. Again, the concept of watchmen and guarding for protection is clear. We need to recognize throughout the scriptures God uses His people many times rather than always taking action Himself. We see examples of Saul, David, and many others who God worked through for His purposes.
Whether our safety and security ministry is just beginning or has been established for many years the foundation of our ministry must be the scriptures. Nehemiah 4:9 provides a clear two pronged approach resting in God’s sovereignty through both prayer to Him and the use of His people as protectors.