Nehemiah: Lessons in Building (Part 12)

Nehemiah 12 vs.1-26. Record is here given of the priests and the Levites. A. The Spirit is careful to note not only the number but the names of the righteous who put their hand to the work of God. c/w ROM 16:3-15. 1. God knows the number of His saints (REV 7:9) but is pleased to know us also intimately by names which He carefully has recorded in a book. JOH 10:3 c/w PHIL 4:3. 2. A good name gotten by good character is worth noting. PRO 22:1; PSA 112:6 c/w PRO 10:7. B. There were diverse offices of the Levites. vs.24-25. 1. Inasmuch as the Levites were ministers of the church, we see here a glimpse of diversity in N.T. church ministers. a. Peter had a ministry to the circumcision; Paul to the Gentiles. GAL 2:7-9. b. Apollos was an eloquent speaker; Paul was not. Yet both were godly ministers through whom Christ worked. ACT 18:24-28 c/w 2CO 10:10; 11:6 c/w 1CO 3:4-9. 2. N.T. saints/church members are in a sense "Levites" since, like the generation of Levi, they are a "...chosen generation..." (1PE 2:9). a. The body has many members but not all have the same office. ROM 12:4-8. b. The church is a spiritual house built of "...lively stones..." (1PE 2:5), not bricks. (1) Bricks are simply stacked together. (2) Stones are "fitted" together. EPH 4:16. (3) We should not be shocked if Christ is pleased to not build His church only with members just like ourselves. 1CO 12:18-20. 3. The Levites were noted to be situated "...ward over against ward..." (v.24) or "...keeping the ward..." (v.25). a. Ward: "The action or function of a watchman, sentinel, or the like; observation for the purpose of discovering the approach of danger; look-out, watch, guard; also, surveillance." b. Ministers are especially to watch for approaching danger. ACT 20:28-31 c/w MAT 24:43. c. Members also have a responsibility to watch for approaching danger. 2PE 3:17; HEB 12:15-16; MAR 13:37. d. The image of "...ward against ward..." is one of being tightly knit together in a joint effort for the good of the building. COL 2:19. e. By such continual watchfulness, the dangers of worldliness, heresies and traditions of men may be warded off. vs.27-43. The dedication of the wall was attended with thanksgiving and gladness. A. The building of the wall had met with considerable trouble and anxiety as Satan and his agents fought against the enterprise. But that season of tears here gives way to one of rejoicing. c/w PSA 126:1-6. 1. Difficulties in God-blessed projects are to be expected. Great opportunities for the church are also great opportunities for troubles. 1CO 16:9. a. Evangelism expects trouble and prays accordingly. 2TH 3:1-2. b. Paul knew great trouble but later great joy. 1TH 2:1-2, 13, 18-20; 3:9. 2. Gospel work in the church or in the soul may be filled with many tears. ACT 20:19, 31. 3. But God knows our estate and sends comforts and joy in due time. 2CO 1:3-4; 7:4-16. 4. "...weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning" (PSA 130:5). 5. "...He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best---Lovingly, it's part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest." (from the hymn, "Day by Day") B. It was noted that "...God had made them rejoice with great joy..." (v.43). 1. This was a genuine joy. 2. Not all joy is such. PRO 2:14; ACT 7:41; JAM 4:16. 3. One of the great challenges of Christian living is distinguishing between genuine, God-given joy and a myriad of sensual counterfeits which actually defeat faith, not build it! LUK 24:41. 4. Men can build massive congregations of "Esau's" with false emotionalism but consider MAL 1:4. 5. Believers may (and should) always rejoice in Christ and His work of taking away sin by Himself. ROM 5:11; PHIL 3:1-3. C. In accord with this joyous time was much thanksgiving. vs.27, 31, 38, 40, 46. 1. The lack of thankfulness is the basis of great sin. ROM 1:21. 2. We should "IN everything give thanks..." (1TH 5:18). c/w PHIL 4:6-7. 3. There is edification in thanksgiving. 1CO 14:16-17. 4. Edified saints abound in thanksgiving. COL 2:7. D. "And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people..." (v.30). 1. This was ceremonial purification according to the law to make service acceptable. 2. Contrast their temporal, outward and ceremonial purifications with MAL 3:3; TIT 2:14; HEB 9:13-14. 3. The "sons of Levi" who have been eternally purified by Christ ought to strive to temporally purify themselves for acceptable service. JAM 4:8; 1CO 5:6-8; 2CO 6:17-18. vs.44-47. Care was taken to provide for the maintenance of the ministers of the house of God. c/w 1CO 9:13-14. A. The people rejoiced for their ministers. v.44 c/w PHIL 1:25-26; 1TH 5:12-13. B. Specifically, the ministers about whom they rejoiced were such "...that waited" (v.44). 1. They were not ministers that waffled. 2. They were not ministers that whimped out. 3. They were not ministers that wheedled. 4. They were ministers that waited, i.e., they served and worked faithfully. 5. Matthew Henry made this observation: "The surest way for ministers to recommend themselves to their people, and gain an interest in their affections is to wait on their ministry (Rom 12:7), to be humble and industrious, and to mind their business."
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