Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in Scripture. Written by Ezra, it is the last recording of the Jewish historical narrative in the OT. After Nehemiah, all the Psalms and prophets fit back into the historical narrative already covered.
There will be NO NEW HISTORY after this book and the silence will last 400 years. Until John the Baptist begins to prepare the way of the Lord.
And Nehemiah is one of those special heroes of the faith.
A quick reading of Chapter 12 would almost leave you with a feeling that there is little here to take heart. But, as is all of God's Word, there is PLENTY to meditate and wrestle with.
The first part of the chapter is the orderly procession in preparing the dedication of the Wall which has been restored. It is proper to do these types of things. We need formality and honorable decorum in recognizing God's great achievements. It is proper to honor people and occassions where God's truth has been fought for and won.
I love the language:
dedication with gladness
with thanksgiving and singing
with instruments of all kinds
with honorary guests
with great sacrifices
and we are talking about a LARGE number of people
two large choirs
some of the procession went counter-clockwise and the other went clockwise and sang, and cheered, and proclaimed the beautiful pageantry of VICTORY!
A BEAUTIFUL VERSE: And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away!
quick side note: Did you notice how David is referred to twice?
David the man of God
Do not neglect opportunities to celebrate and spare nothing in the event! It is OK to make it a big deal.
I think this applies to worship. Why not plan a large victory celebration on the Lord's Day? Sure, there are days for sobriety and times for solemn reflection.
But the gospel is the greatest achievement in human history!
Take in the moments... they are fleeting.
Stop at the end of chapter 12 and you can smile a great big smile. But don't turn the page!
Chapter 13 is after some time has past, Nehemiah has been absent, and the people already had sunk back into sinful practices. The victories a few and fleeting in this world of sin. Until Christ comes back we will have some great days AND we will have some dark days.
Nehemiah is back in the trenches fighting battles.. literally pulling hair and chasing unruly people out of the fold!
Talk about an amazing ending to the historical narrative..."Remember me, O my God, for good".
Are you free to celebrate the goodness of God? Are you taking time to celebrate? There is way more liberty here than you can imagine.
Are you open to worship that celebrates?
Are you willing to rejoice with brothers and sisters who celebrate big victories?
Sure- the battle will soon return... but today we dance with joy........