Summary: Sometimes God allows us to experience bitter trials. The crowning grace is when we can praise God -- in spite of or even for -- the trial. That's what Nehemiah did when he went to praise God at the Dung Gate!
PRAISING GOD AT THE DUNG GATE
1. A kindly old preacher married a couple and as he did, told the groom, “Son, God bless you. You’re at the end of all your troubles.”
2. A year later, the groom returned and said, “What a year I’ve gone through! It was extremely difficult! And you told me I was at the end of my troubles!
3. To which the old preacher replied, “Yep, I sure did. But I didn’t tell you which end!”
4. There are many things about life that no one told us about! Troubles, hardships. In tonight’s message we see Nehemiah’s response of praise to the difficulties of his life.
1. 27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall. 31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials ….43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
1. The title of this message is “Praising God at the Dung Gate.”
2. We look at the Story, the Symbol, the Value, and the Rewards of the Dung Gate.
I. STORY OF NEHEMIAH’S CELEBRATION
A. BACKGROUND HISTORY
1. Israel had come back from captivity. We have no concept of what it would be like to have our country invaded, our military defeated, and to be all taken as prisoners to a foreign country and resettled. What would it be like to then, 70 years later, be able to come back to your own and and home town? Amazing!
2. Then after 3 efforts to reestablish the city of Jerusalem, they finally succeeded. Rejoicing in all God had done, Nehemiah gathers the people and forms them into two processions:
a. One led by himself;
b. The other led by the priest Ezra.
B. THEY HAD SOMETHING TO PRAISE GOD FOR!
1. Nehemiah and Ezra had been released. They had all been in captivity. Many of us know what it means to be in spiritual captivity. Do you remember the day that Jesus set you free? When He took your load of sin and guilt?
2. Not only that, but God guided them back safely to Israel, some 900 miles. There were NO good roads, NO law enforcement. Bandits roamed that vacant area robbing the travelers, but God had kept them safe.
3. And just before this celebration, they had just completed the walls and gates of Jerusalem. God helped them to do it in 52 Days! In spite of opposition and the mountains of rubble piled every where.
4. Previously, while building the Temple, God had given a vision to Zechariah of an endless supply of Oil being poured down on those doing the work. God said, “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of Hosts.”
1. In response, Nehemiah divided the people and sent them off to worship, on top of the walls, in two directions.
2. One group was sent to worship at the Dung Gate.
II. THE SYMBOL OF THE DUNG GATE
A. A STRANGE PLACE TO WORSHIP GOD
1. There were better gates to end their worship at.
a. There were 11 gates in Nehemiah’s time.
b. There were more important and historic gates than the Dung Gate; there was the King’s Gate, the Beautiful Gate, Sheep Gate, Water Gate, Fountain Gate, etc.
c. Nehemiah (& God) said, “Those Gates are glorious, but I want you to even worship Me at the Dung Gate!”
2. PURPOSE OF THE GATE
a. Holman’s Bible Dic.: “Used for the disposal of refuse, garbage, and dung” (human). They had no sewage pipes.
b. It led to the Valley of Hinnom, the place of Baal worship, idol worship and human sacrifice.
c. An inglorious gate. It could have been called the “Port-A-Potty Gate.” If a guard who worked there were asked, “Which gate do you work at?” He might cover his mouth and cough when answering.