Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God that He is immortal, invisible, unchanging and eternal. Psalm 90:2, 1 Timothy 1:17.
- Confess the sin of thinking of God other than who He truly is. Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to grasp the truth of who God truly is.
Doctrine for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 48 – What do the words “before me” in the first commandment teach us?
Answer – These words “before me” in the first commandment teach us that God, who sees all things, takes notice of and is much displeased with the sin of having any other God.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – The idea that God doesn't care about the 'gods' men worship, whether religious or otherwise, is a fallacy. He does. He is a jealous God and will punish all who worship anyone or anything other than Himself.
Verse to memorise.
Deuteronomy 31:8 - "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Pray and ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you read God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 12:1-30.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 12:1-26 – Our Work in the Kingdom
It may seem, from an initial reading of chapter 12, that the real importance in the chapter is not to be found until we come to verse 27, with the description of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. There is no doubt that this was a very significant event in the history of Nehemiah and of the returned exiles, but it would be a mistake to ignore the teaching of the first twenty-six verses and fail to learn the lessons contained there.
The long list of the returned priests and Levites would not seem to have any great interest for Christians living in the twenty-first century, but this list has at least two significant lessons to teach:
1. Although the names mean nothing to us and possibly have little to teach us with regard to the history of the people of God, the very fact that they are included in the infallible Word of God does mean that God intends us to learn something from them. The Bible is the record of God's dealings with men and so although the names are unknown to us, they were known to God and important in the working out of his purposes. We may not be known outside our own limited circle, but as we faithfully serve God, we are known to him and important in the work of the kingdom.
2. The list deals with the priests and Levites who went to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel in 538 and with their descendants in Ezra's day, thus showing a continuity spanning almost a century from 538 to 444 – from Zerubbabel to Nehemiah.
All these faithful men had a part to play although many would never live to see the completion of the wall and join in the joyous celebration at the dedication. This is an example of what Jesus says centuries later, that one sows and another reaps (John 4:37).
Ch 12:27-30 – The Dedication
After all the hard work of building and defending the wall from the attacks of the enemies, the time had come at last for the people to dedicate the rebuilt wall of the city. There was an obvious understanding that they had been building not just to secure their own prosperity, safety, and future, but that they were building for the honour and glory of God and to make sure that the Holy city of Jerusalem would be a safe place in which the people of God would be able to worship their God. Two lessons we can learn from this passage are:
1. The completed wall was to be celebrated with praise and so those appointed by God to lead the praise of his people, together with the singers, were brought from wherever they resided into the city in preparation for the great act of dedication. It is a great blessing from the sovereign God that he gives such gifts to his people to enable them to lead God's people in praise and these gifts should always be recognised and made a matter of grateful thanks to God. Although there are special people here charged with the responsibility of singing, in New Testament praise the whole of the congregation is to offer the 'sacrifice of praise' (Hebrews 13:15) – there is no requirement to have a beautiful voice, just a dedicated heart that rejoices in praising the Lord.
2. Before the priests and the Levites could adequately lead the people of God in praise and thanksgiving, they had to first purify themselves and then the people. Here there is a fundamental principle. Without heart purity, no matter how tuneful and majestic the singing of praise might be, it will not please the Holy God. We have been told that the only worship acceptable to God is that which is offered in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). An acceptable approach to God requires clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 104A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung..
Thank God that we have the privilege of singing the songs He has given to us to worship Him. Pray and ask for the Holy Spirit's help, so that they can be sung with thoughtful understanding.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC