SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In the beginning of this chapter, Nehemiah continues to list leaders who have decided to inhabit Jerusalem, this section consisting mostly of priests, the spiritual leaders of the Israelites.
- The priests dedicate the now complete wall to God.
- Nehemiah organizes a giant worship celebration complete with two choirs. He sends one choir to the right, led by Ezra, and he leads one choir to the left. They meet in the middle where they participate in a giant worship service. The celebration was so big, you could hear it miles away from the city.
- Nehemiah mentions that EVERYONE had a part to play in worshipping God.
- Men were appointed to take charge of the offerings. God has asked us to give him the first 10% of our "crop". For some, that was a literal crop (wheat, barley, fruit, etc). For others it may mean meat of some kind. For businessmen, that means money. They would hold all the tithes and offerings in a giant storehouse so that there would be enough money/food/supplies/etc to keep the temple functioning.
- Worshipping God can take many forms. Sometimes, as seen in previous chapters, when we are confronted with God's holiness, it looks very solemn and repentant. In this instance, God's people were celebrating the goodness of God. So they celebrated like it was 1999...er, well, more like 444 BC, but the point is the same. There is no limit to the celebration we can have because there is no limit to our God's goodness.
- God loves it when we sing and celebrate to him. Nehemiah used their best singers and musicians to lead the people in worship.
- When we celebrate God, everyone is invited and has a part to play.
- Just like in the times of Nehemiah, God still wants our tithes and offerings. However, this has a lot less to do with keeping up a temple (or church) and a lot more to do with our hearts.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- When is the last time you really celebrated God's goodness? You don't have to wait till the weekend to do it! Play your favorite worship tunes and let God know what you think of him on the way to work, when you take your kids to school, while you are grocery shopping, or while you are sitting in the park. God loves to hear from you.
- When we worship God, all are invited. You don't have to be perfect to worship God, although, sometimes our worship of God's kindness will lead to repentance, so be prepared. The church is a place where all are welcomed and have a part to play.
- Are you moving toward a greater generosity? God doesn't need your money, but he needs your heart. Our financial giving to him is a necessary work, not just for the practical reason that it does indeed take money to do ministry, but because we can't do ministry from a greedy heart.