When nations go into battle, their focus is on defeating the enemy. So they begin to train their soldiers for battle. The objective is, for every soldier to return to the base alive. That is very easy in times of peace but very difficult during a conflict. Adequate training can make the difference between success and failure on the battlefield.
The first stop in a military career is Basic Training. The purpose is to prepare you mentally, physically and emotionally for battle. You might wonder are all these things necessary. Fighting is not just a physical act. Yes, you are using your body but if you are not equipped both emotionally and mentally, you can lose your life. There is more to the battle that the fight.
So you get on the battleground and you expect to find the enemy there. You have your camp and they have their camp. Each group is fighting for control. Control means that you defeated the enemy in the battle. That was straightforward. You came; you saw the enemy and you conquered.
What do you do when you can’t identify the enemy? That can be a problem. If you don’t know who your enemy is, you open yourself to all sorts of problems. You cannot protect yourself from an enemy you don’t know. It’s even dangerous when the enemy is hiding in your camp.
Nehemiah was a man with a mission. He was living in exile but his heart was back in his homeland. He was always alert to what was taking place there. One day he inquired about those who remained in Jerusalem, they told him, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 1:3. That is not what he wanted to hear. The news broke his heart and he mourned for days. In the brokenness of his heart, he took time to pray to God about the situation in his homeland.
When the king, his employer, noticed how distressed he was, he gave him leave and resources to go to his homeland and make a difference. When he arrived, there were those who were happy to see him and some were not. He found the city in disrepair. The walls were torn down and the community was in disgrace. He approached the leaders in Nehemiah 2:17 and said, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” So under his leadership, they began to work and repaired the wall in fifty-two days.
Their enemies were not happy with the progress and enlisted people in the camp to work for them. It’s easy to identify the enemy outside the camp. It’s not so easy to identify the enemy within. They devised a plan, chose a location and used one of their enemies on the inside to set up the attack.
Every project has a key man. That person is the driving force behind the success of the project. You don’t need to bomb the building to derail the project; you need to get rid of the key man. When Nehemiah was approached, and told about a plot on his life; he did not accept the information simply because it came from someone on the inside. He had to determine if the information was reliable. Nehemiah recognized the trap. The hiding place mentioned would have been his place of death. He didn’t die because he recognized the enemy within.
When you are on a mission, don’t be so naive to believe that all your enemies are on the outside. Sometimes the most brutal enemy you can encounter, are those from within. This enemy was willing to lure Nehemiah to the temple to take his life. Continued success on your mission requires you to identify the enemy within.