CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah


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<ul><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 1/9</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 2/9</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 3/9</p><p>PAGE 3</p><p>Such a large scale celebration is reminiscent of those continental fiestaswhere processing crowds in modern times move along roads for severalmiles carrying banners and singing. In a similar way but much more</p><p>closely orchestrated Nehemiahs choirs move around the city walls.</p><p>His few verses can only hint at the colossal nature of the task and theimpact it must have had upon the inhabitants and those in the surroundingcountryside.</p><p>What were the issues that really mattered in this celebration and how wasit organised?</p><p>I suggest the following outline from the passage:-</p><p> Preparation 27-30</p><p> Praise 31-43</p><p> Provision for future celebrations 44-47</p><p>Nehemiah as usual wanted to get it right! His careful planning isevident in the description. Notice in particular how the worshippers areplaced and prepared, what resources they used in planning, and how</p><p>Nehemiah organised their resources.</p><p>Preparation 27-30</p><p>27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were</p><p>brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music</p><p>of cymbals, harps and lyres.28 The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem</p><p>from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the</p><p>singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified</p><p>themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.</p><p>There is much ritual based on the instructions in Gods word in the Lawand in the legacy left by David, Asaph and Solomon.</p><p>It requires specialists primarily the Levites, but also the singers who hadto be bussed in from the outlying villages.</p><p>It has to be loud, joyful, musical and based upon Gods word. Sounds like a</p><p>good pattern for organised celebration!</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 4/9</p><p>PAGE 4</p><p>1. The exile had altered the fabric of Hebrew society. Levites and singerswho were chosen and gifted had to be sought out : the singers had tobe brought together (always a good thing for a choir!)Some celebrations are personal others are family based but this</p><p>celebration is national. People need to be drawn together with acommon purpose. They need to come together. They need to be unitedin task and in attitude</p><p>2. They need to understand their individual and collective roleswithin this celebrating community. The Levites are the ones dedicated byGod for that task they are the priests and worship leaders. Among themare singers. There will also be gatekeepers (v47) = stewards to leadand organise. But although most of the celebrants are professionals the</p><p>people in general will also be involved.</p><p>3. All taking part and the premises (in this case the wallsthemselves) are purified according to the Law along with the Levites,singers and the people. (v 30)</p><p>Praise 31-43</p><p>31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on topa of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.</p><p>One was to proceed on topa of the wall to the right, towards the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of</p><p>Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as</p><p>well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of</p><p>Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his associatesShemaiah, Azarel,</p><p>Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hananiwith musical instruments prescribed by David the</p><p>man of God. Ezra the scribe led the procession. 37 At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of</p><p>the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.38 The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on topa of the wall, together with</p><p>half the peoplepast the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanaha</p><p>Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At theGate of the Guard they stopped.</p><p>40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half</p><p>the officials, 41 as well as the priestsEliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and</p><p>Hananiah with their trumpets42 and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam</p><p>and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. 43And on that day they offered great sacrifices,</p><p>rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of</p><p>rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.</p><p>a</p><p>Or go alongsidea Orproceed alongside</p><p>a Or them alongside</p><p>a Or Old</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 5/9</p><p>PAGE 5</p><p>Such a celebration on such a scale requires LEADERSHIP andORGANISATION:</p><p>1. Nehemiah himselforganises it (v31)</p><p>Nehemiahs record is nothing if not autobiographical he is privileged tohave this role at such a time and he does not shrink from exercising it.</p><p>His book contains many pointers to leadership in the work of God eventhough at times he seems to be a one man band here he is organisingmany hundreds of people. Some are gifted at singing, some at playinginstruments Nehemiah is gifted at organising!</p><p>He plans out the two routes assigns two large choirs with namedpersonnel.There was a musical director Jezrahiah and many different musicalinstruments. I wonder if Nehemiah was musical? Perhaps he was justgood at getting it all organised.</p><p>2. He has definite resources on which to draw:</p><p>V 36 musical instruments prescribed by David</p><p>V 45 according to the commands ofDavidand his son Solomon. Forlong ago in the days of David andAsaph, there had been directors forthe singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God</p><p>No doubt one Psalm that might have used from those resources would bePsalm 48:</p><p>12 Walk about Zion, go round her,count her towers,13 consider well her ramparts,view her citadels,that you may tell of them to the next generation.14For this God is our God for ever and ever;he will be our guide even to the end.</p><p>It would be impossible to overemphasise the extent to which we areindebted under God to David and the Psalmists for the wide-ranging textsof worship. Out of Davids experience of life as well as the incident of the</p><p>Ark of the Covenant arose a whole body of worship material.</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 6/9</p><p>PAGE 6</p><p>The Norwegians have a phrase that describes exuberant celebration: Weare up in a hundred - referring to the praise of Psalm 100.</p><p>3. The praise was ofoutstanding quality: v43</p><p>43And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The</p><p>women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.</p><p>Notice the strands that make it up:</p><p> Sacrifices</p><p> Rejoicing . Because God had given them great Joy</p><p>Inclusive of women and children</p><p> Making a sound heard beyond the city</p><p>True worship and celebration involves sacrifice (now not that of animalsbut of Christ), God given joy and witness to His goodness.</p><p>It attracts the attention of the unbeliever for its quality and joyfulness and it embraces the whole of the community including women and</p><p>children.</p><p>We see the whole community drawn together in joyful celebration led bydedicated Levites and musicians with gifted direction and strongleadership creating a rounded act of worship and witness that impacts farbeyond the city boundaries.</p><p>Provision for future celebrations 44-47</p><p>44 At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and</p><p>tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the</p><p>Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites. 45 They</p><p>performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the singers and gatekeepers,</p><p>according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. 46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph,</p><p>there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.47 So in the days</p><p>of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers.</p><p>They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the</p><p>descendants of Aaron.</p><p>It may be that these verses represent a summary of what was part of theorganised celebration but it goes beyond this one day of joy it makescareful provision for the future.</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 7/9</p><p>PAGE 7</p><p>From out of those dedicated to service were drawn those who couldofficiate regularly. Such service needs support and so Nehemiah tells ushow it was organised too so that the central core of worship material left</p><p>by David, Asaph and Solomon might be regularly put to good use.</p><p>1. Celebration is often a one off but sometimes a repeatedexperience.</p><p>We need to make careful provision for it so that with Gods Spirit directing,we may draw upon the Word of God and present to Him many more</p><p>celebrations of His grace and His goodness. That is why the calendar ofworship is varied as well as repetitive.</p><p>2. Resources have to be secured by dedicated stewardship</p><p>There were store-rooms and contributions and tithing so that those whoare dedicated to ministry may serve constantly. This must support notonly the Levites but the singers and the gatekeepers or stewards those responsible for the day-to-day running of the work of God </p><p>particularly for welcoming, organising, securing and generally looking afterthe worshippers. I came upon a description for such an office in a largeAmerican church2.</p><p>AsaGatekeeperyouhaveavarietyofimportantresponsibilities. Youserveasagreeter,aninformationprovider,andofferameasureofsecurityforthebuilding. Aspeopleenterthebuilding</p><p>youwillgreetthemanddirectthemtotheirprograms. YoumayanswersimplequestionsaboutthechurchbyhelpingpeoplefindbrochuresandnavigatethewebsiteattheWelcomeDeskcomputerkiosk.Another important part of theGatekeepersjob is to promote building security. Simply by sitting at the deskwith awatchfuleyeyouaredeterringthosewhodonotbelonginthebuildingfromentering. Inadditiontothat,Gatekeeperswillworkinteamsoftwoorthree. Onewillstayatthedeskwhiletwo</p><p>walkthebuildingtoinsureallguestsareintheprogramsthattheycametoattend. TheGatekeepers</p><p>willbeconnectedtoeachotherandtotheoperationsDepartmentbyradio.IncaseofanemergencytheGatekeeperwillbetheonewhocalls911.</p><p>Stewardship means at least two things making resources of time andmoney available to the worshipping community, and being involved in awhole range of practical tasks.</p><p>3. A daily portion2http://www.wheatonbible.org/xm_client/client_documents/Front_Door_Ministries/Gatekeeper_description.pdf</p>http://www.wheatonbible.org/xm_client/client_documents/Front_Door_Ministries/Gatekeeper_description.pdfhttp://www.wheatonbible.org/xm_client/client_documents/Front_Door_Ministries/Gatekeeper_description.pdfhttp://www.wheatonbible.org/xm_client/client_documents/Front_Door_Ministries/Gatekeeper_description.pdfhttp://www.wheatonbible.org/xm_client/client_documents/Front_Door_Ministries/Gatekeeper_description.pdf</li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 8/9</p><p>PAGE 8</p><p>47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the</p><p>singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside</p><p>the portion for the descendants of Aaron.</p><p>From one extreme of scale to another from the vast planning exercise forthe dedication of the walls to the once a day contribution of individualbelievers; there is a clear connection.</p><p>There will be very few occasions when our celebration will rise to the scaleof Nehemiahs. We will doubtless continue to celebrate the usualrecurrences of life, and the major events of our church calendar.</p><p>Yes, sometimes we will be present at the opening of a new church, or the</p><p>establishment of a new outreach project but by and large ourcelebrations will reflect the ups and downs of our pilgrimage of faith.</p><p>Sometimes, indeed, we will need to officiate at the closing of a church. Iwas invited to speak on the occasion of the final service in a small missionchurch in Weston. It was a place where I had been privileged to serve aspastor for fifteen years but it had long since been reduced to just threefolk meeting. It had to close and so we had to commemorate the manyevents that that place had witnessed over the years. A crowd of people</p><p>came to recall better days, and youthful enthusiasm for Sunday school andBible Club.</p><p>Organising such an occasion needed careful planning and the involvementof the right cross section of folk who had been involved in the work in itsbetter days. As such sad events go it seemed to hit the right note. Nowthat the building has been sold the proceeds resources if you will havebeen donated to other like causes with building plans.</p><p>The text for the occasion was from Hebrews:</p><p>Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus,</p><p>Heb 2:8+9</p><p>You folks have a lot to celebrate many years in which God has used andblessed those who have a vision for bringing the Gospel to children andyoung people.</p><p>Much careful planning has gone into this conference. A wide range ofpersonnel and resources have been brought together to celebrate. I hopethat you will feel that such an occasion deserves a good walking round the</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 CELEBRATION (3) The organization of celebration - Nehemiah</p><p> 9/9</p><p>PAGE 9</p><p>walls of Bible Club experience and thanking God for who He is and whatHe has done and will do.</p><p>So far we have seen the PATTERN in the story of Noah, the PRACTICE in</p><p>that of the Ark coming to Jerusalem and here the ORGANISATION of acelebration on a large scale. Tomorrow we will conclude by consider theway in which Jesus transforms celebration.</p></li></ul>