Nehemiah 11:1, 12:27-47
27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the teacher of the Law led the procession. 37 At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the site of David’s palace to the Water Gate on the east.38 The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the JeshanahGate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, 41 as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets— 42 and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. 43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.44 At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites. 45 They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the musicians and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. 46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.
After the call to move out of our comfort zones we see secondly a:
- Commit to Holiness – 11:1 “Holy City”
Moving out of their comfort zone involved a commit to holy living. They didn’t just agree to live in a remodeled city; they were coming to “the holy city.” To live in the holy city was not only a great privilege, but it was also a challenging responsibility. It’s one thing to have a home in a holy city; it’s another thing to make a home holy. Notice that purity started first with the priests and then the people, verse 30. Living in a holy context did not automatically transmit holiness to the individual citizens. It’s not so much about the place as it is the position of your heart. Have you committed yourself to holiness and purity? Are you living your life separated from the “world” because you’re set apart for His use? God is calling you to live in His glory not in the ghetto. Some of us have settled for slumming instead of serving. But we were not saved to be slaves of the slums but servants of the Savior. Today we work hard to have clean, healthy homes, yet we let them become dumping grounds for the pollution contained in many television programs, movies and popular music. We have become a culture of clean homes and contaminated hearts and it’s time to reignite our passion for purity. It’s time for us to stop buying into the lie that macho men sleep around. Look real men don’t mess around they control their passions because they care more about the Father and His purpose than their pleasure. This leads us to the last call a:
- Commitment to Worship – 12:27-47
Nehemiah 12 reveals that there were two choirs who walked on top of the walls of the city and met up by the temple. As they went, they worshiped and gave thanks. This reminds us of the Purpose of Worship. Celebration is the primary aspect of worship. It does not begin with us, but with who God is, what God has said, and what God has done. Thanksgiving is a way of marveling at God’s generosity. Verse 31 tells us that the choirs were appointed “to give thanks.” That was their job or purpose. By offering themselves in dedication, they were surrendering themselves to God. The secret of acceptable worship is not simply what we do but how we do it and who we do it for. There should be nothing half-hearted about worship, because true worship is the outflow of supremely grateful people whose hearts have personally experienced the lavish generosity of God. It’s here that we also see an aspect of worship we often forget about and that is the Witness of Worship. Verses 31-39 tell us that the leaders went up on the top of the wall. The Jews were accustomed to having workers and watchers on the walls, but now we see worshippers on the walls. The two large choirs walked on top of the wall, one heading north the other south. Nehemiah understood that the people needed to see and touch the walls during this dedication service because it was a visual reminder of God’s power and faithfulness. As the church we need to walk on the top of God’s work. We need to walk on what He has done. What has God done in your life, when was the last time you walked on that wall and worshipped God with all your heart. As the people worshiped and walked on God’s work, they bore witness to a watching world of what God had done and that He alone should get the glorified. The enemy had said in 4:3 that the walls were so weak that they would fall down if even a fox walked along the top, but here the people are marching on the walls! The enemy wants to convince you that Christ’s work on the cross is not enough, what you need to do is to stand firm on the foundation of your faith and be a witness to the world of the incredible work of God. As they marched on top of the walls, everyone could see what was happening, and for miles around unbelievers heard the sound of praise. Verse 43 tells us that “The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” So, let me ask you how far does your joy reach? Is the world witnessing your worship or your whining? Oh, we worship here but do we worship in the workplace, do they see our love for the Lord not just on our lips but in our lifestyles. But there is another reason that they walked the walls. It was a symbolic act by which they stepped out in faith to claim God’s blessing. In that day, to walk on a piece of property meant to claim it as your own. In Genesis 13:17 Abraham was told to walk around the promised land and God would give it to him. In Joshua 1:3, God said to Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua walked around Jericho and what did God do? So, let me ask you are you walking by faith around your current circumstance in worship and praise or are you whining and protesting? Have you prayed your way all around every aspect of it? Lastly, we see that worship isn’t just what we do with our mouths but what we do with our money. The people gave of their tithes and treasure and notice it wasn’t just because it was the law, it was because they loved their leaders, Verse 44 “For all the people of Judah took joy in the priests and Levites and their work.” The people appreciated their pastors why because they served the sheep. Pastors it’s not about a position it’s about a privilege. So, let me ask you are you serving God’s people with passion and joy or has it become just a job?