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DAY ONE: [Re]read Nehemiah 12


Nehemiah 12

These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2 Amariah, Malluk, Hattush, 3 Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah, 5 Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua. 8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services. 10 Joshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua. 12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:


of Seraiahs family, Meraiah; of Jeremiahs, Hananiah; 13 of Ezras, Meshullam; of Amariahs, Jehohanan; 14 of Malluks, Jonathan; of Shekaniahs Joseph; 15 of Harims, Adna; of Meremoths,Helkai; 16 of Iddos, Zechariah; of Ginnethons, Meshullam; 17 of Abijahs, Zikri; of Miniamins and of Moadiahs, Piltai; 18 of Bilgahs, Shammua; of Shemaiahs, Jehonathan; 19 of Joiaribs, Mattenai; of Jedaiahs, Uzzi; 20 of Sallus, Kallai; of Amoks, Eber; 21 of Hilkiahs, Hashabiah; of Jedaiahs, Nethanel. 22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals. 24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.



25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. 26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law. Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem 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 Jerusalemfrom 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 associatesShemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hananiwith 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 Davids 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 peoplepast the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, 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 priestsEliakim, 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.



It had been an uphill battle for Nehemiah and the people of God. It all started hundreds of miles away in a palace when news of brokenness and disgrace from the folks in Jerusalem came to Nehemiahs attention. Through prayer, God gave Nehemiah a clear vision of a preferable future. The vision that God gave him must have seemed impossible at best, and foolish at worst. Yet, through prayer and great resolve Nehemiah overcame great resistance and opposition. The king granted him permission, provided resources and even a military escort to go to Jerusalem. Nehemiah entered the ravaged city with a clear vision: rebuild the wall! But the challenges did not stop there. There were constant attacks from outside and inside. Secret conspiracies to discredit him had to be overcome. Discouragement and fatigue had to be dealt with. Stone by stone, day by day, carrying tools in one hand and swords in the other, they completed the impossible. The wall was finished. There was only one thing left to do worship! As we come to Nehemiah 12, we see a glorious image. The people celebrating, marching and singing on top of the very wall that they had sacrificed so much to build. It is an impressive picture. Two leaders Ezra and Nehemiah and two choirs parading around the city on top of the brokenness they had rebuilt and restored. With Gods help, they had rebuilt the wall. They had completed the task God had given them to do many of them right in front of their own homes. Families worked side by side, at times risking their lives. They would never forget this challenging experience that had grown their faith and united their community. For the rest of their lives they would look at that wall and know that they had been part of something amazing something bigger than themselves! Now its time to celebrate worship! 100

DAY TWO: [Re]read Nehemiah 12:27-30. The dedication of the wall of Jerusalem is the highpoint of the book of Nehemiah. This climatic ceremony commemorates the final step in the restoration and rebuilding of the people of God. The temple had been rebuilt under Zerubbabel. Ezra had reinstated the Temple sacrifices and ritual. The wall that laid in ruin for 140 years had been finished, the city repopulated and the place and authority of Gods Law re-established among them and the covenant restored. Now, the community joined together to celebrate what God had done in and through His people. But, before the celebration began there needed to be a cleansing and purification. The significance of the dedication was to acknowledge that the people, the wall and gates were created by God, belonged to God and would be sustained by God. All were set apart for Gods purpose and purified by the priests and Levites. Ritual purification was symbolic of the holiness and purity of God that was appropriated by Gods people. As Gods restored covenant community, the people can now be made ritually pure. For the disciple of Jesus, the New Testament describes this work and appropriation of cleansing and purification as the work of the Holy Spirit. The term used is sanctification. Sanctification means both to set apart and to cleanse. The believer through the decision to accept the lordship of Jesus is given new life and is separated from a former lifestyle of sin and cleansed in their hearts. Read Titus 3:3-8. What words in verses 3 and 4 express the before and after work of God in the life of the disciples? Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. What are the promises mentioned in 7:1? Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. To what extent does Paul pray that the Thessalonians will be sanctified (v. 23)? See also Acts 15:6-9, 1 John 1:7-9 and 1 John 3:2-3. John Wesley the founder of Methodism emphasized that faith in action is best seen in considering his favorite text for preaching on faith and good works: But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised (Jewish) or being uncircumcised (Gentile). What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:5-6, emphasis added). Wesley believed that the fruit of sanctification was not only an active strenuous walk of Christian service, but a pure and holy life. In the preface to the second volume of hymns published in the spring of 1741, Wesley vividly illustrates the life of holiness: 101

This great gift of God, the salvation of our souls, is no other than the image of God fresh stamped on our hearts. It is a renewal in the spirit of our minds, after the likeness of him that created them purifying their hearts by faith, and cleansing all the thoughts of their hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit. Having this hope, that they shall see God as he is, they purify themselves even as he is pure; and are holy, as he that has called them is holy, in all manner of conversation. Not that they have already attained all that they shall attain, either are already (in this sense) perfect. But they daily go on from strength to strength; beholding now, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.

John Wesley doctrine of sanctification has a clear relevance for todays world. Today, as ever, the world needs people who are motivated by Christ-like love. Our world yearns for a holy people a holiness derived from Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The world today cries for a pure people a purity of desire and loyalty of heart to God alone. The world is pleading with its dying breath for a people empowered by the Holy Spirit


DAY THREE: The later part of Nehemiah 12 sets the scene for an elaborate time of worship as the people of Israel give thanks to God and dedicate the completion of a wall that would not have been finished without His guidance. [Re]read 27-43. What were some of the actions and activities that took place in this historical worship service? This public spectacle could have been seen and heard from miles away. Imagine that Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and others who had opposed the project were watching from a nearby location as this worship service erupted. What do you think their thoughts were? 102

The Israelites, under the leadership of Nehemiah, took the time to worship and celebrate all that God had done and all that they had done (with Gods help). Why was it important for the Israelites to celebrate and praise God at this time? Based on what weve studied in Nehemiah, what does a person with a heart of a worshiper look like? How do you see this kind of a heart in Nehemiah? Look up Luke 17:11-19. This is the story of the Ten Lepers. Jesus heals them all but only one comes back to convey gratitude. How were the people of Israel like that one leper?

Nehemiah had the heart of a worshiper. He was like the one leper who came back. But he took things a step further; he invited lots of others to join him in fervent worship of God. He was going to remind all of the people that it was the hand of God that made the rebuilding effort successful. He didnt want anybody to forget it or miss out on this unique opportunity to give God praise. Think about that for a second. When was the last time you worshiped God? Not when was the last time you went to church or when was the last time you listened to the sermon, not even when was the last time you had devotions or prayed? The question is, when was the last time you worshiped God? All of the things listed above can be part of worship, but worship is bigger than any of these actions. It is a condition of the heart, a hunger for God, an unbridled expression of praise and glory to the God who deserves our praise and so much more.

NEXT STEPS: Take 5 minutes.

Separate yourself from any/all distractions. Spend some time worshipping God. Reflect on all that he has done for you. How has He blessed you? Name them aloud. Show your gratitude to God for all that He has done for you!



DAY FOUR: We spent much of DAY THREE looking at why the Israelites worshipped. Lets take a step back and take a harder look at worship. What is worship? SIDE NOTE: What can we do to intentionally engage our Worship is our response to what we value most. hearts and minds more fully in worship? As a result, worship fuels our actions, becoming the driving force of all we do. Some of us attend the church on the corner, professing to worship the living God above all. Others, who rarely darken the church doors, would say worship isnt a part of their lives because they arent religious. But everybody has an altar. And every altar has a throne. So how do you know where and what you worship? Its easy: You simply follow the trail of your time, The wall in Jerusalem served as a constant your affection, your energy, your money, and your reminder of Gods faithfulness. At other times in allegiance. At the end of that trail youll find a throne; their history, the Israelites stacked stones and what ever, or whoever, is on that throne is (Joshua 4:1-9 stone of remembrance; 1 Samuel whats of highest value to you. On that throne is what 7:11-13 Ebenezer, stone of help, etc.), build you worship. altars (Genesis 12:1-18; Joshua 22:11, etc.) or set up memorials (Joshua 3-5) to remind them of the Sure, not too many of us walk around saying; I great things God had done. How might we set worship my stuff. I worship my job. I worship this up memorials and reminders to inspire us to pleasure. I worship h er. I worship my body. I worship me! But the trail never lies. We may say we value worship God with great frequency and this thing or that thing more than any other, but the enthusiasm?

volume of our actions speaks louder than our words. In the end, our worship is more about what we do than what we say. From: The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life by Louie Giglio


Five Reflections on Worship: Worship is a spontaneous overflow of a heart that is in awe of who God is and what he has done. Worship is an occupation of the mind that leads to preoccupation with God. Worship is the act of setting up memorials and establishing reminders of the great things God has done in our lives. Worship is costly and involves sacrifice of who we are and what we have. Worship is bigger than just the here and now; it overflows into eternity. ~from Bill Hybels, pastor, Willow Creek GROUP ACTIVITY: Read Psalm 100 aloud in unison and with passion. A psalm. For giving grateful praise. 1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Praise be to God!


DAY FIVE: Celebrate! Rejoice for all that God has done for you, your community and your church. Make a list on the back of the completed projects God has guided you through, to the finish. Reflect on what it means to finish strong.