God’s Renewing Word of Thankfulness and Praise
Nehemiah 12:27-47: Nehemiah oversees the dedication of the rebuilt wall of Jerusalem. He organizes two processions to march around the city in opposite directions, and both processions end up in the area of the Temple. Officials are put in charge to supervise contributions for the Temple and the Levite priests.
NEHEMIAH DEDICATES THE CITY WALL
27 When the city wall of Jerusalem was dedicated, the Levites were brought in from wherever they were living, so that they could join in celebrating the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals and harps.28 The Levite families of singers gathered from the area where they had settled around Jerusalem and from the towns around Netophah,29 and from Bethgilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth.30 The priests and the Levites performed ritual purification for themselves, the people, the gates, and the city wall.
31 I assembled the leaders of Judah on top of the wall and put them in charge of two large groups to march around the city, giving thanks to God.
The first group went to the right on top of the wall toward the Rubbish Gate.32 Hoshaiah marched behind the singers, followed by half the leaders of Judah.33-35 The following priests, blowing trumpets, marched next: Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. Next came Zechariah, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Shemaiah. (His ancestors also included Mattaniah, Micaiah, and Zaccur, of the clan of Asaph.)36 He was followed by other members of his clan—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani—all of whom carried musical instruments of the kind played by King David, the man of God. Ezra the scholar led this group in the procession.37 At the Fountain Gate they went up the steps that led to David’s City, past David’s palace, and back to the wall at the Water Gate, on the east side of the city.
38 The other group of those who gave thanks went to the left along the top of the wall, and I followed with half of the people. We marched past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall,39 and from there we went past Ephraim Gate, Jeshanah Gate,the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. We ended our march near the gate to the Temple.
40 So both the groups that were giving thanks to God reached the Temple area.
In addition to the leaders who were with me,41 my group included the following priests, blowing trumpets: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah;42 and they were followed by Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers, led by Jezrahiah, sang at the top of their voices.
43 That day many sacrifices were offered, and the people were full of joy because God had made them very happy. The women and the children joined in the celebration, and the noise they all made could be heard for miles.
Providing for Worship in the Temple
44 At that time men were put in charge of the storerooms where contributions for the Temple were kept, including the tithes and the first grain and fruit that ripened each year. These men were responsible for collecting from the farms near the various cities the contributions for the priests and the Levites which the Law required. All the people of Judah were pleased with the priests and the Levites,45 because they performed the ceremonies of purification and the other rituals that God had commanded. The Temple musicians and the Temple guards also performed their duties in accordance with the regulations made by King David and his son Solomon.46 From the time of King David and the musician Asaph long ago, the musicians have led songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.47 In the time of Zerubbabel and also in the time of Nehemiah, all the people of Israel gave daily gifts for the support of the Temple musicians and the Temple guards. The people gave a sacred offering to the Levites, and the Levites gave the required portion to the priests.
TODAY’S KEY VERSE: NEHEMIAH 12:43A
That day many sacrifices were offered, and the people were full of joy because God had made them very happy.
Describe the celebration that took place at the dedication ceremony. How do you envision this celebration? What celebrations take place within your community of faith? What preparations are made for such celebrations?
Holy God, my heart is filled with joy because of your faithfulness and steadfast love for me. May all I say and do today be an act of worship that honors and praises you. Amen.
Haggai 1:1-15: Haggai encourages the people who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.