Summary: What do you do when somebody in your family has a birthday? What about if you have an anniversary? You have a party! You celebrate! Are there ever times in the church when we should celebrate? Of course there are! In our passage today, the remnant w

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What do you do when somebody in your family has a birthday? What about if you have an anniversary? You have a party! You celebrate! Are there ever times in the church when we should celebrate? Are there ever times when we should have a party? Of course there are! We shouldn’t spend all of our time in celebration, but we should celebrate things. Well, what kind of things do you think we should celebrate? Of course we should celebrate the resurrection. We should celebrate our Lord’s birth. We should celebrate our salvation. But is there anything else we should celebrate? What was the remnant in our passage celebrating? They were celebrating a great accomplishment. And I think it’s perfectly legitimate for us to celebrate accomplishment. At the end of each Awana year, we have a celebration. At the end of Bible School, if the kids reach a certain goal, we have a celebration. I can tell you that when we meet our goal of 125 in Sunday School on Pack-a-Pew Sunday, November 1st, we’re going to celebrate! We know that it’s good to celebrate. Celebrating accomplishment makes us feel good. It excites us and gives us energy. It gives us the desire to keep on keeping on. So we know that celebrating accomplishment is a good thing. The question is, how are we supposed to do it? There are all kinds of ways to celebrate, aren’t there? And we know for a fact that many of those ways to celebrate are not appropriate. But what is appropriate? How should we celebrate accomplishment? We should celebrate accomplishment the same way that the remnant did in our passage. Now, you’re going to have to use your imagination with me to see what was happening here. Remember the great things that the remnant had just accomplished. They had rebuilt the wall. 2 ½ miles around. Up to 8 or 9 feet thick in many places. Walls, gates, towers—all of it. And they did it in 52 days. What an accomplishment. Then with all of that momentum, they decided on which people would live inside the city and which ones would stay outside. They had a plan to rebuild everything. They had a huge accomplishment in the past and had a direction to go in the future. What an exciting time to be in Jerusalem. The enemies were quiet. God’s Word was being preached. The remnant was relieved and revived and excited all at the same time. Everything was going great. What better time to celebrate! So they did. And that’s what this passage talks about. In it we see four components of godly celebration. The first component is its beginning. Look back up at verse 30:


The first component of godly celebration is its beginning. This wasn’t just something that happened. This wasn’t just some spontaneous event. Like everything that happened with the wall, this celebration took some planning. Nehemiah’s people sent word out to all of the outlying territory. They gathered up all of the Levites and the singers and they told them to bring all of their musical instruments. They also sent word out to all of the priests. They obviously organized and planned and promoted the event. But was that the beginning? No it wasn’t. Because the real beginning of the celebration came after all the people had gathered back together. The celebration didn’t begin with the planning. It didn’t begin with the outreach. It didn’t begin with the publicity and invitations. The celebration really began with the purification. Purification? That doesn’t sound much like celebration, does it? Oh, but it is. Of course the purification that the priests and Levites in our passage did was ceremonial purification. They had to ceremonially purify themselves first. Then they ceremonially purified the rest of the people. Then they ceremonially purified the gates and the wall. Now, the text doesn’t explicitly tell us what all this involved. It probably included the ceremonial washings that were included in Old Testament Law. They probably had to wash themselves and their clothes. They probably were fasting and abstaining from marital relations. There’s no doubt that it included animal sacrifices. They probably received the sprinkled blood on themselves and in turn sprinkled it on the gates and the wall. The point is that they realized that they had to enter into the time of celebration with a pure heart. Their motives had to be pure. The work of their hands in accomplishing the goal had to be pure. Their joy had to be pure. Their relationships with others had to be pure. Their reasons for entering into celebration had to be pure. So many times we can plan a celebration, just because we want to have a good time. Or we can plan a celebration because we want to show people that we can have fun too. And that they can have fun with us. We can use celebration as a means to an end. But is that the right beginning? The right beginning is to enter into celebration with a pure heart. Enter into celebration with pure motives. A few years back, there was a popular movement called, “Celebrate Jesus.” That’s fine, but the only way that we can celebrate Jesus is if we know Him as our Savior and Lord. The only way we can celebrate Jesus is if He has purified us with His blood. Otherwise, there’s not much celebration involved. As a matter of fact, instead of celebration, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Before any kind of celebration can happen, we have to begin with purification. We ourselves must be saved. And this place must be purified from dissent and division. There can be no celebration before the wall is complete. When there are breaches in our wall and piles of rubble in our midst, there is no cause for celebration. That’s where celebration begins. It begins with purity. Personal purity and corporate purity. The first component of godly celebration is its beginning. And from the right beginning, we move to the second component of godly celebration. Look at verse 31 and 38

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