Monday, August 12, 2013

International Sunday School Lesson for August 18, 2013 "Dedication of the Wall"

                         "Dedication of the Wall"
International Sunday School Lesson for Sunday August 18, 2013

Scripture Text: Nehemiah 12: 27-39,43

Purpose: To designate special times of worship for celebrating what God accomplishes through us

Bible Lesson Background Nehemiah 12:27-43

Nehemiah 12:27-39, 43 (CEB)

27 When it was time for the dedication of Jerusalem’s wall, they sought out the Levites in all the places where they lived in order to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with joy, with thanks and singing, and with cymbals, harps, and lyres.
28 The singers also gathered together both from the region around Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 also from Beth-hagilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, because the singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 After the priests and the Levites purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall.
31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and organized two large groups to give thanks. The first group went in procession on the wall toward the right, in the direction of the Dung Gate. 32 Following them went Hoshaiah and half the officials of Judah, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. 35 There were also some young priests with trumpets—Zechariah son of Jonathan son of Shemaiah son of Mattaniah son of Micaiah son of Zaccur son of Asaph—36 along with his associates Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They brought the musical instruments of David the man of God. Ezra the scribe went in front of them.
37 When they reached the Fountain Gate they went straight up by the stairs of David’s City, on the ascent to the wall, past the house of David to the Water Gate on the east. 38 The second group went in procession to the left. I followed them with half of the people along the wall past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 past the Gate of Ephraim and over the Mishneh Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred as far as the Sheep Gate. They came to stop at the Gate of the Guard......
43 They offered great sacrifices on that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced, and the sound of the joy in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Most of us can probably recall at least one celebration in our life that involved either a dedication of a new sanctuary, parsonage, or maybe and new fellowship or activity center. These are always exciting times and usually attention is paid to every detail, to make certain that the ceremony is inclusive, and everyone is made to feel a part of the ceremony. As I read the account in Nehemiah, that is sort of the picture I get of all the individuals, in this dedication of the wall around Jerusalem.

We usually have our best choir and orchestra or individual musicians available for the ceremony. Every effort is made to please those in attendance. We often feature a more famous or higher ranking pastor or speaker. All of this may be patterned after Nehemiah's writings.

I think Nehemiah offered a balance between the civil and the clerical. It is hard to imagine this wall approximately 2 miles long and 8 feet wide lined with people playing their instruments and singing psalms of praise to God.

The question that arises for me, what makes this a time of worship? It looks more like a celebration of mans accomplishments.
Let us begin by reviewing what Nehemiah and Ezra ordered, first there was a purification ceremony for the priest and the Levites and then in verse 30 “After the priests and the Levites purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall.” Nehemiah and Ezra knew that there could be no true meaningful worship without first purifying not only the fixtures but also those that were going to participate in the ceremony, and then too, those that were attending the dedication.

For us today, Christ has provided the purification we need to worship a Holy God. The blood of Christ is more powerful than that of bulls and rams. Christ provides for us an avenue where we can worship a Holy God, even though we ourselves are not holy enough to approach a holy and righteous God. I think God only sees the Christ in us as we come and worship before Him. However those that have never been washed in the blood of Christ, can only come to God as a sinner and cry out for his mercy and grace. Amazingly God always hears that repentant cry, and washes them in the blood of Christ immediately.

How do you prepare yourself for worship? I think worship begins with a prayer of confession, and pardon is offered by God, that we may boldly enter into His presence.   

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