Views from the Pew – The Sound of Rejoicing

What did you learn from last week’s sermon?

Q1: What were the Israelites celebrating in Nehemiah chapter 12?

Q2: What is the Psalter?

Q3: Does God allow variety in songs of worship?

Q4: What does it mean to “consecrate” a thing?

Q5: Should you give to God’s church even if you feel slightly reluctant to do so?

Q6: Can God take something or someone today that is horrible, filthy, and truly unholy and make it new and holy, or did He just do this with Peter and the pork in Acts 10?

Sermon Summary & Answers

The later verses of Nehemiah chapter 12 record the day of dedication to Jerusalem’s completion. So much has already happened…

  1. God has called Nehemiah.
  2. The enemies have been thwarted.
  3. The wall has been built.
  4. Worship & thanks have been given.
  5. Repentance has been asked.
  6. The city has been re-inhabited.

This day of celebration brings singers and musicians far away to join the Levites (God’s appointed priests) singing with one voice, praises to God. There was significant planning and preparation. They took the book of Psalms (the Psalter), which are songs of God to God. These songs praised God for His matchless grace and even expressed the personal impact on their lives. We see this variety reiterated in the New Testament as the right way to sing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:19-20
“…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”

Then the musicians who played the cymbals, harps, and lyres were gathered from the outside villages. At the same time, the priests purified themselves, the people, the gates, and the wall. This is how they “consecrated” themselves or made themselves clean and set apart for God. The New Testament gives us insight into God cleansing a thing (or people)and making it holy again. In Acts 10:14-15, God told Peter (a kosher Jew) to eat pork. Peter probably fell off his chair in shock as God’s voice boomed from above, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

Once the choir, the band, and the people’s hearts are prepared for the celebration, it is time for the procession. Two great choirs climb on top of the giant (and super-strong) wall, marching and singing so loud they can be heard far, far away. I bet the enemies from early on in this book were shaking in their sandals. This was proof positive that when God starts something, He always finishes it!! Thousands of marchers now gather at the temple, singing the triumph of God and bringing so great of provision that storehouses were built in preparation for those abundant gifts. Their giving wasn’t done out of obligation. It was done out of gratitude and a joyful heart.

“This isn’t a one time gift – – this is the ongoing giving to support the ministry and those who serve in leadership. In fact, the Bible works hard, God works hard, to remind us always – – if the gift you bring isn’t from a glad heart – – keep it. God loves a cheerful giver. There is no benefit to God in your reluctant giving – – He doesn’t need your money … you need to express thanks … your joy is the motivation to give … not some law.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

The people also offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great JOY from heaven for heaven. The men lead, and women and children joined in. Let’s remember their preparation and joy, their thanksgiving each and every time we obey God in our gathering together with His people on Sunday morning. No timid singing. No stingy hearts. Full-on gratitude and worship to God for God!

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Melissa Strautman

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  1. They are celebrating the completion of God’s project to rebuild His city (Jerusalem).
  2. The book of Psalms sung by the Israelites
  3. Yes
  4. It means to cleanse or set apart for God and His purposes.
  5. Absolutely NOT! God doesn’t need your money.
  6. God can (past, present, and future) change the unholy and make it holy. That’s how sinners are saved by His grace alone, through Christ alone, as is told in scripture alone, to the glory of God alone!