Lord's Day Evening Meditations November 23, 2003

Nehemiah 12:44-47

The Lord Is Worthy

Firstly, let's just quickly review last week's subject from verse 43 - "God had made them rejoice with great joy." We saw the Lord Jesus saying over and over again, "That your joy may be full." This shows us our Lord's heart - He wants His people to be happy! He doesn't want us continually burdened with troubles and problems. Parents like their children to be happy, and they usually know how they can be happy, better than the children do. Our Father wants His children to be happy, and He knows how we can be happy much better than we do. Our brother often reminds us that an obedient child is a happy child. The child who is constantly in trouble because of disobedience is a very unhappy child.

In the end of chapter 12 we see this Jewish remnant making further arrangements for the service of the house of God. There is something that I find very commendable in this remnant. They had their weaknesses and failures, as we have seen and will yet see, but they had a concern about their God receiving something of what was due to Him. What would have been the total number of Israelites, from all twelve tribes, at that time? The number would probably have been in the millions. What was the total number of people that composed this remnant in Ezra and Nehemiah? They were probably a few thousand - maybe less than one per cent of the total number of Israelites! All those others were off in other lands, living their lives with little or no thought of their God and His city and His house. This remnant were a few who cared for God's land, for His city and for His temple. Because they cared they took on themselves a lot of work, and they went through a lot of trouble and misery, for what? So that God might receive a little of what was due to Him. And God noted it, and put it on record. God has a people, a center, and a testimony on earth today. How many of His people care about it? Who is concerned that God should receive a little of what is due to Him? May we learn from this remnant and have in our hearts a concern for what is most precious to our Lord, and that He should receive a little of what is due to Him.

In the latter part of chapter 10 we saw the people making arrangements for all the provision needed for the service of the house of God. This last part of chapter 12 is a continuation of that, appointing some to be in charge of the treasures, the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes. We need to understand the system that God had ordained through Moses, which first centered around the tabernacle, and then around the temple. There was a lot of work involved in attending to the care of the temple, the preparation and the offering of the sacrifices, and the many observances concerning feast days, etc. One tribe, the tribe of Levi, was chosen to do the service of the house of God. Out of that tribe there was one family chosen to be priests, the family of Aaron. David arranged the priests and the Levites, in courses, so that all the work of the house of God was attended to, and all shared in the responsibilities. While these priests and Levites were occupied with the work of the house of God, they couldn't be working in fields or caring for cattle. God had arranged that they be supported by the people, and this is where the people's offerings, tithes, and firstfruits came in. If the people brought what was expected of them, then the priests and Levites were well supplied, and they could accomplish their service so that God received what He required. If the people didn't bring their tithes and offerings, then the priests and Levites had to leave their service to care for themselves, and God did not receive what was due to Him. That is why the remnant here was concerned in making all necessary arrangements so that God would receive His due. Tithes and offerings after the Jewish fashion do not apply to us, but the principle in this for us is that we also should be concerned about our Lord receiving what is due to Him.

In verses 44 and 45 we find four classes of people occupied with the work of the house of God: priests, Levites, singers, and porters. Each had their own particular line of service. The priests were the only ones who had the right, and privilege of going into the holy place, into the presence of God. They were the only ones who could place a sacrifice on God's altar, or burn incense to Him. When the priest went into God's presence, the people waited outside - they were not allowed in. The priest was between the people and God, representing them in His presence. Christendom has made the mistake of copying this arrangement; today, every believer is a priest, with the right and liberty of entering into the presence of God.

The Levites took care of the many other jobs that had to be done. The singers were a special class of Levites whose service was just what the name says - they sang praises to God. The porters were another special class of Levites; they were the doorkeepers for the temple and the city, guarding the entrances lest anything contrary to God's will and God's holiness should enter in. We will summarize this in this way:

priests - the worshippers

Levites - the workers

singers - the praisers

porters - the guardians

As a believer, you can place yourself in each one of the four. You are a priest with the right and privilege of coming into the presence of God to offer worship to Him. Our Lord has made it known that the Father seeks worshippers, in spirit and in truth (John 4). What a joy it is to His heart to have some of His children function as priests! Also, we can all work for Him, we can all praise Him, and we should all be concerned about guarding the holiness of His name and of His presence in the midst. I want to look at one of these in particular - the singers, and the offering of praise.

"And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the Lord." 1 Chron. 6:31. Notice the phrase, "the service of song." Then in 1 Chron. 9:33 we have "the singers… were employed in that work day and night." As far as I can see, this arrangement was begun by David (and continued by Solomon). Groups of the families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, Levites specified as singers, would take shifts in singing praises in the house of God so that there were praises going up to God 24 hours a day! Isn't that remarkable! David was concerned that God should get the praise that was due to Him. We see this in the Psalms, as, for example, Psalm 92 - "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High … in the morning and … every night (in the nights)"

Solomon followed David's ordinance concerning singers, and the God-fearing kings in Judah afterward did likewise. It is interesting to see what Jehoshaphat did when he went out against a powerful enemy. "He appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army … and when they began to sing and to praise" the victory began. 2 Chron. 20:21 - 22. Hezekiah accomplished a great revival, part of which was the observance of the Passover, and he was careful to see to it that "when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also." 2 Chron. 29:27. In the greatest revival of all, under Josiah, "the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place." 2 Chron. 35:15. The remnant that returned from Babylon restored the service of the singers, and now in Nehemiah chapter 12 we are seeing that same concern that the singers should be provided for so that they could perform their function of giving praise to the Lord. These people were concerned that God should have the praise that He was worthy of. Shouldn't we be concerned likewise? Is He not worthy? Yes, He is

Worthy of homage and of praise;

Worthy by all to be adored! L.F. no. 195

Let us join our hearts and voices to give praise to our precious, worthy Saviour. S.L.