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Priests And Levites (ch. 12:1 - 26)


I will not make comment on the names of priests and Levites that are mentioned in these 26 verses.  They came with Ezra from Babylon some 18 years or so earlier.


Dedication Of The Wall Of Jerusalem (ch. 12:27 - 47)


In verse 27 we see that the priests and Levites were sought out to meet at the wall in Jerusalem to celebrate it's completion.  This was a joyous time of singing and of playing of instruments.  It is clear to me that praise to the Lord in song includes the use of instruments.  There are certain Christian denominations that don't allow any musical instruments in a meeting.  Others have disqualified certain instruments and have only allowed other certain instruments into the gathering.  It is my opinion that whatever instrument one has is suitable for worship.  Worship begins in the heart and works its way out from there.  If our hearts are right in worship, we can use what we have at our disposal, no matter how much talent we have.     


In verse 28 and 29 we see that the singers were requested to come to the gathering of dedication for the completion of the wall.  We also see in verse 29 that some singers had built their own villages outside of the city just for themselves.  That's interesting.  We have a small  community of Jews that have gathered together in their own place because they had the same ministry.


In verse 30 we see one important job of the priests.  They were agents of purification.  They first purified themselves, then the people.  This is much like the Catholic priests of our day.  The problem with Catholic priests  is that once Jesus died on the cross the ministry of priest ended, or at least should have ended.  The New Testament clearly states that all believers in Christ are priests, and that Jesus Himself has purified us once and for all.  Therefore, we do not need any priest, any man to represent us before God.  This doctrine is called the priesthood of the believers.   


This dedication service was well organized.  Verse 31 tells us that Nehemiah had the priests go on top of the wall, or alongside the wall.  Both renderings are acceptable. Also, the singers were divided into 2 choirs. One alongside or on top of the wall, and the other to the right of the wall.  They would sing praises to God.  It is clear that singing has been a part of the worship of God for a very long time.


From verses 32 to 36 an number of names in the procession are listed that I will not comment on. 


We also note in verse 36 that a variety of musical instruments were used in this procession, as King David prescribed.  We know that David was a man of music and he prescribed musical instruments to be played in times of worship such as this.  We also know of music and singing in heaven.  It is thus clear that music and singing is close to the heart of God.


Verse 37 speaks of the path this procession took.  Verse 38 tells us about another procession.  We learned earlier that their were two choirs. One choir went one direction in their procession while the other choir and the other procession went another way. 


From verses 38 to 40 we see the direction of this second choir.  From verses 40 to 43 we see that the two processions ended up at the temple.  Names of certain priests are listed.   Everyone is offering sacrifices, and the context suggests that these are sacrifices of praise.  Everyone is singing praises, even the women and children.


Verse 43 tells us that the praises of God from the people in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.  The music and singing was obviously pretty loud.  Some of us today may not like loud music, but it was loud in this instance.  This is the way if should be concerning the people of God.  Our praise and worship should be a testimony to all in ear-shot of this praise.  


In verse 44 we see that certain men were appointed to look after the storehouse in Jerusalem.  This store house was there to store the tithes that would be gathered for the priests to live from.  Certain portions of crops were set aside for the welfare of the priest.  This was prescribed in the Law of Moses, and at this point in Israel 's life, they wanted to obey the Law, so someone had to look after the food that was collected for the priests. 


We see in the book of Malachi that these tithes had been long forsaken.  Malachi actually wrote these words not too many years later.  By Malachi's day Israel stopped giving of these tithes. 


In verse 45 we see the gatekeepers, the priests, and the singers all doing their job. Everyone was willing and happy to do what the Lord wanted them to do.  Everyone  had a ministry, a part to play in the people of God.  Yet once, again, this did not last. 


In verse 46 we see that the example for such musical praise and worship was greatly enhanced with King David.  He set aside singers and leaders for praise and worship.  So the Jews in Nehemiah's day wanted to continue the tradition that their most famous king established.   


We learn in verse 47 that the gatekeepers and the singers were full time gatekeepers and singers.  The people provided for their welfare.  Throughout this chapter and throughout the book of Nehemiah, you will note that these singers played a very important part in the daily life of Israel , at least when they were following the ways of their God.

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