by Katie Julius

It’s been more than 100 years since King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and took Israel captive. Two groups of exiled Jews have already returned. Nehemiah, part of the third and final group, has made his way back. While the temple has already been rebuilt, Jerusalem remains vulnerable to attack without a city wall to protect her.

Upon his inspection of the city wall to devise a plan to rebuild it, he says in Nehemiah 2:17 (CEV), “Jerusalem is truly in a mess! The gates have been torn down and burned, and everything is in ruins. We must rebuild the city wall so that we can again take pride in our city.” It’s almost as if he could be describing the world that we live in today.

As he begins to build the wall, Nehemiah faces both external and internal threats to rebuilding. The governor of Samaria, Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people from the city of Ashdod were all angry with Nehemiah (that’s a lot of people to have as enemies!). They were making plans to attack Nehemiah and the Jews. Morale was also low. The people were grumbling about the work and the amount of time it was taking. Nehemiah needed to act to protect the wall and Israel.

Again, this is an accurate description of the world we live in today – Christ-following families (and homeschoolers specifically) are facing threats both external and internal. We usually only think of the external threats; overzealous legislators who think they know better than parents, professors of institutions of higher learning who aim to discredit years of research, or the media that is quick to blame homeschooling for horrific child abuse cases. There are also threats from those within the homeschool community, such as organizations of former homeschooled children who seek stricter oversight of homeschooling or grass-roots groups of parents proposing initiatives that would give the government the opportunity for greater regulations through government funding. Homeschooling is under attack.

In Nehemiah 4:13, the account tells us that Nehemiah placed the people around the half-built city wall in the areas they were most vulnerable, grouped together with their family. It’s no accident that he did this. The members of our family know us best. They care for and love us the most. They encourage us and support us. What better teammates could we have in a battle?

As Nehemiah instructs the people of Israel, in preparation for attacks, he says (verse 14, ESV), “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

While this verse tells us what Nehemiah did, it’s also interesting to note what he didn’t do. The challenge ahead of him was great. It was probably scary. But he didn’t panic. He didn’t doubt that God would lead them. He also didn’t sit back and JUST trust that God would handle it. While God was and is fully capable of acting on His own to save Israel from these threats, He often uses people to carry out His work. Nehemiah was sensible and practical in his approach. And it worked. The city wall was finished (in just 52 days!) and stood strong for more than 500 years.

As we face battles of our own today, to protect our rights as parents and homeschoolers, may we remember Nehemiah’s words. He puts things into perspective. The challenge ahead may be difficult. It may be scary. But do not fear. Trust God. Pray. Fight with everything that is in you to protect your family; your children and their future. For Your Family.