Posted in theology

Dedication of the wall: what happened next

By Elizabeth Prata

The Israelites had been carried off to Babylon. The dispersal came at God’s hand as a fulfillment of the promise H’d made to them, that if they didn’t repent He would punish them. They didn’t, so He did what He said He was going to do: defeat them and allow them to be carried off.

After a while, God put it in Nehemiah’s mind to return, and to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and to restore Jerusalem itself. The first wave of returnees had already gotten back and they were in distress, living in a ruined city with enemies all around, and no protective wall. God put it on the heart of workers Nehemiah led to work fast and well, despite obstacles in opposing armies, mocking, lies, and any and all obstructions the enemies of God could throw in their way. And there were a lot of obstructions. But they got the job done.

A wall meant security. It meant control. It meant protection.

Rebuilding it had been hard. At one point the enemy was so present and threatening, the workers worked with one hand while holding their weapons in another. But in God’s providence and ordination, they got it done.

Right now as you read this, we are in a strange time in America. A virus has caused the government to institute restrictive measures on our ability to do our jobs, to assemble, to worship, and generally to live our lives moving about freely. Turning to the Bible for solace, I often wished I was reading a different book than Nehemiah according to my Reading Plan. There are lots of lists of names, it’s a straight recording of history. A little boring, sorry. Sigh, I needed comfort and a chronology was waiting for me? I was reluctant to crack it open. But I told myself that the scriptures are ALWAYS profitable and I kept going. And so it is. I got to the end of chapter 12 in Nehemiah, and I read these verses:

Nehemiah 12
Dedication of the Wall around Jerusalem

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. (27)

Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Refuse Gate. (31)

The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall (38a)

And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. (42b-43)

I was moved to tears. I thought about it for a while. We Christians in many places in America have been banned from gathering in churches. This has been going on for months now. The governor of California forbade singing or even chanting in worship services, during the brief time they were even allowed to gather before being closed down again. When this virus time is over, and we are allowed to freely gather once more, will our joy resound all over the plains, mountains, fields, and houses in our city? Will the joy of Christians be heard far away? Do we miss being with our people in church as much as the Israelites missed being n God’s city, doing God’s work?

And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

Our joy in the Lord is a perfect time to display His grace within us. What would people think of God if they heard and saw such joy from us, in a dark time?

And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

May the joy of the Lord be heard far away wherever you live.

joy verse

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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.