Ezra & Nehemiahby Robert M. Solomon
Today, we come to another high point in the narrative: it is time for the dedication service for the completed wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:27). Joy permeates the account. The Levites enter the city to ″celebrate joyfully″ (v. 27), the worshippers ″offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy″ (v. 43), and the women and children express joy, so much so that ″the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away″ (v. 43). When something is completed for the glory of God, especially after encountering and overcoming numerous setbacks and obstacles, it is time for joyful celebration.
Two large choirs walk on top of the wall in opposite directions till they meet at the Gate of the Guard, then they go into the temple. One choir is led by Ezra and the other by Nehemiah (vv. 31-40). It is likely that Nehemiah is actually leading the second choir, though he humbly describes himself as following the choir (v. 38).
A purification rite is also carried out. The priest and Levites purify themselves first, likely with the blood of sacrificed animals. Then they purify the people before purifying the wall (v. 30). This is reminiscent of how the priests, the furniture and vessels used in the tabernacle, and later the temple, were purified (Exodus 40:1-16). We should note that the dedication of a wall or building is insufficient if the people are not similarly dedicated. It is a good practice in similar dedication services of church or ministry-related buildings to first have the people dedicate themselves by committing themselves to the Lord. Without the dedication of hearts, the dedication of brick and mortar is of no value.
The joyful celebration at the dedication of the wall continues with an account of how everything is in place in the proper functioning of the temple in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:44-47). The workers in the temple-priests, Levites, and singers-are able to perform their service for God because all that is needed is provided for by the people. The system of contributions for the temple services and for those who serve in the temple is in place, and things seem to be going smoothly. Daily provisions for singers and gatekeepers are provided and the portions to support the Levites and priests are not held back (v. 47).
Why is it important to consecrate not just buildings and projects, but also ourselves? How can this be done meaningfully?
Recall high points in your spiritual life and that of your church. What happened after they were over? Are there lessons to be learnt?