Jerusalem GateDedication of Jerusalem’s Wall – What a Celebration!
Nehemiah 12 describes what I can only imagine as a totally awesome worship, celebration and dedication of  event, but it’s easy to miss it because of all the details and names. So let’s remove some of that and catch a glimpse of the extravagant worship.

27For the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levites throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28The singers were brought together from the region around Jerusalem…
Nehemiah 12:27-28 (NLT)

This was no ordinary event. Israelite singers and musicians came together from all the regions. Perhaps you’ve participated in a large worship event. We used to attend a church that had regional retreats and people from a dozen states or so would come together – what a fantastic time of worship that was! A church in our community sometimes holds community-wide worship nights bringing together members of worship teams from several different churches. What a blessing! I attended two Promise Keepers events as a volunteer. I remember going into the stadium as the men gathered for worship at one of them. What an awesome sound as the men filled the stadium with powerful praise to God. I love those events. Better than any concert you’ve ever attended! Yet the worship described in Nehemiah 12 would have out-shined all of those.

The singers and musicians didn’t gather together in a building or stadium. They gathered outside and celebrated around the entire city. The first group celebrated on the east wall of the city, walking toward the Sheep Gate.

31I led the leaders of Judah to the top of the wall and organized two large choirs to give thanks. One of the choirs proceeded southward along the top of the wall to the Dung Gate. 32Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33  along with [other leaders]. 35Then came some priests who played trumpets… 36b[Other priests] used the musical instruments prescribed by David, the man of God. Ezra the scribe led this procession. 37At the Fountain Gate they went straight up the steps on the ascent of the city wall toward the City of David. They passed the house of David and then proceeded to the Water Gate on the east.
Nehemiah 12:31-37 (NLT)

Jerusalem Wall during Nehemiah's Time

The second group walked along the west wall of the city worshipping with instruments and songs. Imagine – two large choirs accompanied by instruments walking the perimeter of the city walls as they praised. You’ve undoubtedly seen videos of flash mobs in shopping malls or at hotels. This goes beyond any of those outstanding performances. And I hesitate to use the word performances because the Israelites weren’t performing. They were worshipping. And they ended their worship in the Temple of God:

38The second choir giving thanks went northward around the other way to meet them. I followed them, together with the other half of the people, along the top of the wall past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39then past the Ephraim Gate to the Old City Gate, past the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel, and on to the Tower of the Hundred. Then we continued on to the Sheep Gate and stopped at the Guard Gate [or Muster Gate].

40The two choirs that were giving thanks then proceeded to the Temple of God, where they took their places. So did I, together with the group of leaders who were with me. 41We went together with the trumpet-playing priests… 42and the singers…. They played and sang loudly under the direction of Jezrahiah the choir director.

43Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away.
Nehemiah 12:38-43 (NLT)

I love the juxtapositioning of worship with sacrifice and joy. We don’t often associate worship with sacrifice or sacrifice with joy. God’s like that. He brings together worship and sacrifice and joy. All that we sacrifice to Him is a form of worship. All that we sacrifice to Him both brings Him joy and is an act of joy on our part. Even when it’s hard.

The Israelites gathered in the city and went to the top of the wall they had just completed. From there the broke into two groups. One went in one direction, the other in the other direction. Both groups playing their instruments and singing worshiping God. So loudly that they could be heard far away. Without any modern sound system!

God is worthy of our extravagant praise! It is offensive to offer less. It is a discipline to put aside the things of the week and the frustration of the day when we step into worship, but it’s a discipline and sacrifice that not only honors Him, it brings us into His presence – which of course, is to our tremendous benefit.

Friends, I challenge you to outdo yourself during worship in the coming month. Don’t just stand or sit and sing the words that appear in the hymnal or on the screen. Worship Him! And make it your lifestyle.

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