Nehemiah 12: Joy!
August 18, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As the book draws to a close, we are left with a picture of well-ordered and exuberant joyful celebration. All the priests and Levites are appropriately given their right station and role (12:1-26). And then when it comes to the dedication of the wall—the formal, joyful setting apart of this edifice to God and his glory—the Levites and the singers are there to lead in worship (12:27). Nehemiah, in particular, appoints two great choirs for giving thanks (12:31). There is a procession, one to the south, and the other choir to the north, and both choirs and the leaders and all the singers were in the house of God, and great sacrifices were made, and “the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (12:43).
It is good to celebrate God’s victories. There are moments to gather together and praise God and say, “This is good in our eyes, and the Lord has done marvelous things.” The Christian, of all people, is not to be long in the mouth, dour and downward looking. Lift up your heads, oh you people, and rejoice! If they rejoiced at the wall, at Jerusalem, at the temple, how much more are we to rejoice at the atoning death, resurrection, ascension, gift of the Spirit, and the coming return of the Lord Jesus Christ! We are to rejoice, and rejoice again.
Take time this day to not simply list your blessings, but recollect what God has done in your life. Take space to contemplate all his benefits to you, all his answered prayers—and the prayers that you have prayed that now you are glad he did not say yes to, though you urgently longed for a yes when you first prayed. Praise him for his wisdom that is far above yours. Praise him that he is sovereign and good, and is weaving all to your good and his glory. Praise him for sun and moon and stars. Praise him, most of all, for salvation, for Christ, for redemption. Praise him for grace—that all this is a free gift and we cannot add one thing, not anything, to his finished work, and all is given to us freely on account of what God in Christ has done, and not at all based on what we have done, could do, or would do. Praise him that at his right are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Praise him that he dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16), and yet through Christ you can approach the holy of holies—draw near with faith and rejoice in his presence now and forevermore.
Let your rejoicing be loud, exuberant, and the joy of your hearts be heard all around you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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