Summary: The concluding sermon of Nehemiah that considers the result of a life built with God at the center: When We Build with God at the Center, We will Overflow with Joy in all Things.
(This is especially from 12:43ff)
Today we come to the end of our study in Nehemiah—not that we have mined all the truths therein—we have only TOUCHED on chapter 13, which ends the book on a bit of a downer—seeing what happens when people don’t stay dedicated to God
But that is NOT our focus today. Today our scene opens up with a GRAND celebration
Dedication of the Walls of Jerusalem
Dedication: When the Bible refers to “dedicate” it usually refers to setting something aside for the Lord’s purpose—or devoted to Him. God had brought about the vision that Nehemiah had to rebuild the wall—“laid it on my heart”—and helped them throughout the process, overcoming opposition, raising up a strong leader like Nehemiah, and turning the hearts of the people toward him. Jerusalem was the city where God had his temple—his dwelling place. The people responded to the help and presence of the Lord with a festive, worshipful time of praise, music, prayers and sacrifices.
The Hebrew word underlying “dedication” is where we get the term “hannukah” which was used to name the feast we all know—which is even referred to in the Bible as the “Feast of Dedication.” It celebrated the capturing and cleansing of the temple by the Maccabees just a century or two before Jesus was born.
The people were bearing witness to the watching world that God had done the work, and He alone should be glorified. The enemy had said that the walls would be so weak that a fox could knock them down (4:3), but here were the people marching on the walls! What a testimony to the unbelieving Gentiles of the power of God and the reality of faith. It was another opportunity to prove to them that “this work was wrought by our God” (6:16).
Their worship is “noisy and tumultuous” (festivals, sacrifices, etc)
Singing is mentioned eight times in this chapter, thanksgiving six times, rejoicing seven times, and musical instruments three times. (Wiersbe)
application: as God’s people, CHOSEN by Him, they were His. Solely his. ALL for Him. Their lives were to be lived out by following his Word. Their city was home to God. Their walls were built by his care. They were resettled under his good hand. Their whole way of life was to be dedicated to serving and obeying him, and being blessed by him.
Our blessing does not come with a political nationality or race, or necessarily even a geographical location. It comes from being chosen as his children. His eye is on us, His Spirit with us. Are OUR lives dedicated to him? Do we see his hand in our lives? Do we acknowledge that?
Key Point: When We Build with God at the Center, We will Overflow with Joy from God
We started off this series by saying “our lives are better when built with God at the Center. Now we are going to look into just HOW they can be better! We will look at the joy that come from God, a joy deep within, that is not a fleeting emotion.
Transition: What makes the Christian experience have depth is our ability, in the Lord, to experience that:
1. Our Joy does Not Come from Problem Free Life
The trials of Nehemiah and the people dedicated to rebuilding the wall
• I have been thinking that joy is a thing we all want. It seems hard to come by, and yet is a mark of the life of not only God’s people (as we see in Nehemiah) but especially of the Christian. But even as joy came abundantly to the Israelite nation as they rebuilt and resettled Jerusalem and their country, the road there was hard and fraught with toil and hardship. Ridicule, threats, compromise, social injustice from within, all threatened to wreck not only their lives, but any future joy and the completion of the project. It took a strong leader, prayer, diligence, being prepared to fight, working very hard, and above all the hand of God.
• Did they experience joy during those hard times? Hard to say. Probably many of them didn’t. Perhaps some with the faith and vision, like Nehemiah, did. It is possible for Christians to experience joy in hard times. Paul did. He rejoiced in prison. He passionately taught and encouraged people to rejoice ALWAYS. Was he being realistic?
BEN PATTERSON, writing in the Leadership Journal, recalls when A tribe witnessed a movie—AND the live of Jesus for the first time together one evening:
Imagine the mystery and delight of not just hearing, but seeing the story of Jesus for the first time, almost as an eyewitness.
That’s what happened to a tribe in the jungles of East Asia, when missionaries showed them the Jesus film. Not only had these people never heard of Jesus, they had never seen a motion picture. Then, all at once, on one unforgettable evening, they saw it all—the gospel in their own language, visible and real.