Wasn’t planning on “re-cycling” this morning. But as I went back over my posts on today’s readings from past years some thoughts from August 11, 2011 stirred me. Thought I’d re-work them a bit and share them again. My own little “throw back Thursday” if you like.
I didn’t expect him to be there. Kind of surprised me that his name showed up–not just once, but four times. It’s been 600 years since he was physically on the scene. But when it’s time to rejoice, when it’s time to praise, when it’s time to worship, when it’s time to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, then it’s time to do it just like David did.
I’m reading in Nehemiah 12 this morning. The walls of Jerusalem have been rebuilt. The opposition has been withstood and the scoffers silenced. What’s more, the people of God have experienced a degree of revival as the word of God has been rediscovered. Ezra the scribe has taught it and, to a certain degree, the people have caught it. The walls of God’s dwelling place stand firm. The word of God’s kingdom has been preached faithfully. And the ways of God’s people have been impacted forever.
And now it’s time to celebrate. Not in recognition of their own abilities and accomplishments, but in the goodness, grace, and great power of the God they serve. The temple is back in business and the walls of Jerusalem protect once again–all because God brought His people back. Back to the land and back to Himself. Time to rejoice and give thanks. And time to do it just like David did.
Nehemiah 12 isn’t about David, but his name shows up four times, twice as “David the man of God.” And what impresses me is the legacy left through this man of whom God says, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart” (Acts 13:22).
David was integral in establishing the music and the song that covered the temple activity. So, when it’s time to dedicate the wall, Nehemiah gathers all the Levite musicians and singers to Jerusalem and tells them to “go for it!” Sing just as David commanded, he says (Neh. 12:24, 45). Play with gusto the musical instruments “David the man of God” used (12:36). When it was time to celebrate the goodness of God they were to sing the songs, play the music, and give thanks just like David did.
And it reminds me that our modern worship isn’t something new, it’s just the latest form of something ancient. Something God has ordained throughout the millennia to be part of what His people do when they get together. It is the natural response of the people of God to the wonder-inducing works of God. Though the slicing and dicing of animals ended at the cross, this form of sacrifice continues today.
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.
(Hebrews 13:15 ESV)
. . . be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18b-20 ESV)
And it is an offering that will continue throughout eternity.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:11-14 ESV)
And so, when Nehemiah sensed it was time to thank God for the work He had enabled them to complete, they celebrated “with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres” (Neh. 12:25).
Today the instruments are a bit different. The cymbals are accompanied by some “skins” and have become a drum kit. The harps are now the strings of a piano (or the digitized equivalent). The lyres have given way to guitars. But what should not have changed is the gladness, the thanksgiving, and the singing.
And unlike the worship service in Nehemiah 12, our choir doesn’t gather on a wall around a temple, but our choir IS THE TEMPLE, “a holy temple in the Lord . . . a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). The glory of God dwelling where the people of God are worshiping.
“And the singers sang . . . And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”
(Nehemiah 12:42b-43 ESV)
Gladness . . . thanksgiving . . . singing . . . just like David did.
May the joy of the people of God be heard far away . . . today, as it was that day.
All because of His abundant grace. All for His eternal glory!