Nehemiah has proven to be a book about many things, most fascinating to me has been the foreshadowing of Jesus and last time I discovered something worth celebrating – the “boring” life! That celebration comes to the forefront, now, in Chapter 12.
Chapters Thus Far:
1 – Nehemiah broken when learns of state of Jerusalem; because he loves God and hurts to see the state of His people and desires to see His promise fulfilled.
2: 1-10 – Nehemiah desires to bring God glory so much he abandons his Persian palace and heads out to do work in Jerusalem.
2:11-20 – We learn of the calling to Go and Rebuild.
3 – The Gates parallel the Christian life. Ah-Mazing stuff…
4 – External Opposition : way in which the devil attacks
5:1-6 – Responding to Anger Part 1 – wrong doing is inevitable; think before you speak.
6 -Proper handling of opposition of comes with a attributes I do not have!
7 – When God takes roll of His people, which tribe will you be associated with?
8 – Restoration begins with God’s Word
9 – Restoration leads to purification
The first 26 verses of Nehemiah continue the lineage capture calling out the specific names of God’s people (one worth mentioning may be Judah). Beginning in verse 27 we see the culmination of hard work in the form of one of my favorite words – celebration. They do this around a formal dedication of the wall.
I don’t know how long the trek was from where they lived, but they came. The trip was important enough that the Levites were ‘sought out’ and brought to Jerusalem to accomplish one goal – celebrate what the Lord has done.
This gate area is all of it. The people proceeded around the entire area and were led by Ezra and Nehemiah. #awesome. God has been working on doing something in the world through this lowly group of people and the project doesn’t look beautiful, it isn’t glorious or majestic, it’s not inlaid with gold or treasures, but it’s rebuilt. And it’s strong. Strong enough for them to walk on it, and preach on it, and sing on it. Dance around it. The material is stone, not gold or silver, but it is theirs. And it is theirs because God has given it to them. Don’t miss out on what else He has given them, too, though:
…because God had given them great joy
So much of the Christian disposition is GIVEN. The central message of Christmas is a child is GIVEN for “unto us a child is born, a son is GIVEN.” In the beginning was the Word of God and it is eternal. So is this great Joy that He has given. Throughout history God has always fulfilled His promises and it should be no surprise that in this rebuilding He is not simply providing safety for His people or just fulfilling prophecy or basically continuing a story He began at creation. At the exact same time He is doing those things He is also delivering something else: Joy. Jerusalem understood that gift and it moved them to celebration.
It’s an important distinction because when we associate joy with what we have earned (because of what we have done) we can miss out on humility and gratitude. When we, however, understand the joy we possess was given to us, that we were lost and now found, not because of what we did to find our way out but because of what He did to find us while we were in, then a natural overflow can be humility and gratitude and that should compel us to shout from the rooftops a celebration heard far far away.