The Enemy’s Poisonous Darts: Detention

In Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah had to deal with a third poisonous dart meant to take him out and render him helpless: detention (see vv. 10-14). This time around, his enemies Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem wanted to get him off the wall by making him run and hide.

Tobiah and Sanballat used an inside connection to try to bring this distraction. Shemaiah, we discover, was a hireling prophet who was complicit in the plot to frighten Nehemiah. Shemaiah invited Nehemiah into his private home and then said, “Hey, let’s go to the temple. I have the key. We can lock ourselves in there.”

Now, the Old Testament taught that if a person who sought a place of refuge was really in fear of their life, they could come to the brazen altar before the temple (see 1 Kings 1:50). But no laymen were allowed to go beyond that altar (see Numbers 18:7), and that’s exactly what Shemaiah—along with the other prophets mentioned in verse 14—were trying to get Nehemiah to do. They knew it was a death penalty if they could just go, “Hey, Nehemiah, cross this line.” And the Jews revered their prophets, making this a mounting peer-pressure campaign.

Yet Nehemiah didn’t give in. He refused shelter for three reasons: First, as governor he was responsible to protect the people. If he hid, they would all want to hide, so he had to stay out front for the moral advantage of keeping the rest of the people courageous. Second, he was a God-fearing man and thus would not disobey His Word. There are some boundaries we must not cross, even if fear is prompting us. And finally, as a discerning man he uncovered the entire plot and exposed those who were responsible.

All this to say, don’t forget in the dark what God has told you in the light, because fearful circumstances will come your way. Fear is the enemy’s favorite tool because it’s contagious. When you’re around fearful people, you will be become more fearful. And the enemy is perfectly happy to keep you crippled in fear so that you’ll stay hidden away, far from achieving all that Christ has for you in your life.

But I can personally attest that you do not need to be a victim of fear. Do you know the antidote for fear-tipped darts? Faith. The enemy shoots these poisonous darts, but God provides protection: “[Take] the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Is there any dart of fear the enemy can shoot your way that you cannot be victorious over? No, because you merely have to raise up your shield of faith, and it will quench them all. So let’s march forward this month and keep fighting, even in the face of fear and darkness.