To the Right and to the Left
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
Nehemiah 12:30-40 (NASB)
30 The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates, and the wall. 31 Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large choirs, the first proceeding to the right on top of the wall toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 and some of the sons of the priests with trumpets; and Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his kinsmen, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. 37 At the Fountain Gate they went directly up the steps of the city of David by the stairway of the wall, above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east. 38 The second choir proceeded to the left, while I followed them with half of the people on the wall, above the Tower of Furnaces, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, by the Ancient Gate, by the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped at the Gate of the Guard. 40 Then the two choirs took their positions in the house of God. So did I and half of the officials with me;
At the dedication of the walls, several things happened. First, a purification, which, involved a blood sacrifice. Not only did the priests purify themselves, they purified the all the people and the gates. Next, two large choirs took their place on the walls, one to the right and the other to the left. Some sang, some blew trumpets or played various other musical instruments. While they were there to celebrate, worship and dedicate the walls and the city to God, Ezra the Priest and the scribes were also in named in attendance, meaning, all that they did was done in a way that was God honoring and full of reverence.
In this passage, Nehemiah went into great detail as to which group went where, and what instruments they played. I can imagine the scene. Thousands of people walked on the top of the walls all while worshiping God in an extravagant display of music, dance and song. Every step they took they did so with honor and praise. When I read the passage, the term “cast of thousands” entered my mind. I have no doubt the actual event would have put the most elaborate movie set to shame.
As my imagination runs wild at the possibilities, I think about our worship today. I wonder if we were to get every church, every denomination, and every tribe and tongue together in worship with free, un-encumbered, extravagant, abandon, what would it do in the heavenlies? God is worthy of all of our worship is He not?
Psalm 103:19- 22 (NASB)
19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! 21 Bless the Lord, all you His angels, you who serve Him, doing His will. 22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; bless the Lord, my soul!
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
· When I offer worship and dedication to God, make sure I do so with reverence.
· They dedicated the walls with Ezra the priest and the scribes in attendance.
· Worship God with everything is the one true thing we can give to God for all He has done for us.
· Worship allows us to see God for who He is, put him first and thank Him for what He has done. Make worship a priority.
When the people were all in their place, the two choirs took their stand in the house of God. While there is a time for worship, praise and dedication, there will always be a time when we will be asked to take a stand. For our fellow believers around the world who must worship in secret, I know they do so with the full knowledge of what it means to be asked to take a stand.
John 4:23-24 (NASB)
23 But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- When it comes to purity, how does that look in my life in the age of grace?
- What does my worship look like to God? Is it full of spirit and truth, or am I going through the motions?
- In what area of my life am I putting other things before worship of Almighty God?
- Am I afraid to take a stand for God?
- Is there anything preventing me from fully worshiping God today?