Nehemiah
1-7 Heads of the Priests 8-11 The Levites 12-21 Priestly Families 22-23 The Levites Are Registered 24-26 Levites in the Days of Joiakim 27-30 The Dedication of the Wall 31-37 The First Choir of Thanksgiving 38-39 The Second Choir of Thanksgiving 40-42 Both Choirs in the House of God 43 Great Joy 44-47 Take Care of the Levites
Heads of the Priests

1Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6Shemaiah and Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their kinsmen in the days of Jeshua.

Again we find a list of names of those who went up with Zerubbabel and Jeshua from Babylon. These are the priests and the Levites. Both characteristics, those of a priest and of a Levite, should be found with every believer: sacrifice and serve.

The first series of names is that of “the heads of the priests and their kinsmen in the days of Jeshua” (verse 77Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their kinsmen in the days of Jeshua.). In the other lists the chief priests are not mentioned separately. They are mentioned here. The heads of the Levites have been mentioned before. In verses 12-2112Now in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of fathers’ [households] were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;13of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;14of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;15of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;16of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;17of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;18of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;19of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;20of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;21of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel. a later generation of priests is mentioned, who undoubtedly served in the later days of Nehemiah. They are the sons of those mentioned earlier, faithful men who walk in the footsteps of their fathers and are examples to the people.


The Levites

8The Levites [were] Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, [and] Mattaniah [who was] in charge of the songs of thanksgiving, he and his brothers. 9Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brothers, stood opposite them in [their] service divisions. 10Jeshua became the father of Joiakim, and Joiakim became the father of Eliashib, and Eliashib became the father of Joiada, 11and Joiada became the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan became the father of Jaddua.

The second series of names is that of Levites. The names are in connection with the singers. Despite the decay and small number of Israelites, who are also spiritually weak, there are Levites who are “in charge of the songs of thanksgiving”.

There is also a short genealogy of five generations, running from Jeshua to Jaddua. These five generations cover the period of 538-333 BC. Jaddua is the great and deservedly celebrated high priest who occupied this high place in the days when the Medo-Persian rule was overthrown by Alexander the Great. He is the last mentioned high priest in the Old Testament.


Priestly Families

12Now in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of fathers’ [households] were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; 15of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; 18of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.

Here are mentioned the sons of those already mentioned in verses 1-71Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,4Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,6Shemaiah and Joiarib, Jedaiah,7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their kinsmen in the days of Jeshua.. The twenty fathers in those verses are mentioned here again, now with one son each as the next head of the family. It are the later days, the days of Joiakim, the son and successor of Jeshua (verse 1010Jeshua became the father of Joiakim, and Joiakim became the father of Eliashib, and Eliashib became the father of Joiada,). Here we see the favor of God for His people. God ensures that there will always be a priestly lineage.


The Levites Are Registered

22As for the Levites, the heads of fathers’ [households] were registered in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan and Jaddua; so [were] the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23The sons of Levi, the heads of fathers’ [households], were registered in the Book of the Chronicles up to the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

Here the following generations of Levites are mentioned, who live during the successive high priests. God also maintains the Levite service, even though it sometimes seems as if it is over. The priestly service also continues, despite the foreign domination. There is no conceivable circumstance of which it should be said that God cannot be brought what is due to Him.


Levites in the Days of Joiakim

24The heads of the Levites [were] Hashabiah, Sherebiah and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers opposite them, to praise [and] give thanks, as prescribed by David the man of God, division corresponding to division. 25Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon [and] Akkub [were] gatekeepers keeping watch at the storehouses of the gates. 26These [served] in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest [and] scribe.

Of the Levites mentioned here, it is said as a special feature that they are there “in the days of Joiakim …, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest [and] scribe”. These Levites are contemporaries of these men, that is to say, they have to deal with the same spiritual atmosphere and face the special spirit that characterizes the time in which they live. These contemporaries hold on to God’s Word, while the characteristic of that time is that it is abandoned by the majority. They maintain, though in weakness, a testimony to the LORD Who brought them back to the place of His Name.

Of the heads of the Levites it is specially mentioned that they “praise [and] give thanks, as prescribed by David the man of God”. They do not look at the wretched situation in which they find themselves, but at God’s commandment, and they keep it. Whatever our weakness may be, we too can keep what is from the beginning and carry out what is written.


The Dedication of the Wall

27Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs [to the accompaniment] of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28So the sons of the singers were assembled from the district around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites, 29from Beth-gilgal and from [their] fields in Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates and the wall.

This is where history goes on. The wall is already finished in Nehemiah 6 (Neh 6:1515So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of [the month] Elul, in fifty-two days.). The intermediate chapters tell the story of the consecration of the people as a whole because the Word of God brings them to self-judgment. Now that the people have consecrated themselves, the wall can be dedicated. The completion is cause for joy and thankfulness to God and a feast to dedicate the wall.

The feast of dedication is celebrated because the LORD has not only brought His people back from the land of the foreigner, but has also granted that His house and His holy city are surrounded with a wall by His people. The wall is a testimony for friend and foe that those who once were scattered because of their sins are now under God’s care. This is a cause of joy. This joy manifests itself in thanksgiving and songs accompanied by musical instruments. This is how David arranged it (verse 3636and his kinsmen, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah [and] Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them.; 1Chr 15:1616Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.; Ezra 3:1010Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel.). Each Levite has his own voice and his own instrument, but they are all full of what the LORD has arranged. He is the object of their hymns of praise and thanksgiving, and therefore it is harmonious.

There have been more dedication feasts in the history of Israel: at the bringing up of the ark by David to the city of David (2Sam 6:1212Now it was told King David, saying, “The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.), at the dedication of the temple (1Kgs 8:62-6662Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD.63Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.64On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that [was] before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that [was] before the LORD [was] too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.65So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, for seven days and seven [more] days, [even] fourteen days.66On the eighth day he sent the people away and they blessed the king. Then they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people.), at the laying of the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:10-1310Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel.11They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, [saying], “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.12Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ [households], the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,13so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.), and at the dedication of the house (Ezra 6:16-1816And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.17They offered for the dedication of this temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel.18Then they appointed the priests to their divisions and the Levites in their orders for the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.). The joy at the dedication ceremonies is always in connection with God’s house and is there in spite of the decay. These feasts are not imposed by law, but take place spontaneously.

This is also the case here. The dedication of the wall becomes a general feast. And not only for the builders of the wall and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Levites, the singers, come from all sides. The wall of Jerusalem is a symbol of salvation and its gates of praise.

Before the feast is celebrated, the priests and the Levites first cleanse themselves and then the people, the gates and the wall. There can be no real dedication without cleansing. It is a cleansing with water, for which they may have used the water for impurity  (Num 19:11-1311‘The one who touches the corpse of any person shall be unclean for seven days.12That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, [and then] he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.13Anyone who touches a corpse, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from Israel. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.). The washing with water through the Word is always necessary (Eph 5:2626so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,). In this way we come to confession and become clean.


The First Choir of Thanksgiving

31Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall, and I appointed two great choirs, the first proceeding to the right on top of the wall toward the Refuse Gate. 32Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah followed them, 33with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35and some of the sons of the priests with trumpets; [and] Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, 36and his kinsmen, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah [and] Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. 37At the Fountain Gate they went directly up the steps of the city of David by the stairway of the wall above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.

By climbing the wall and walking over it, the wall becomes the property of the people (cf. Jos 1:33Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.). In this way the people take possession of what lies within the wall. The walk on the wall is not meant to look at everything outside the city, but to look at everything inside. Separation is not negative, but positive. It is about what is dedicated to God. This can only be done by separating it from what is not dedicated to God. Going over the wall therefore gives the people a wide impression of the location of the city and how glorious God’s temple is.

The wall of separation around our lives has the same purpose. It is intended that we walk on it with thanksgiving for all that God has given us. Then we will not fall into acid sectarianism, but our lives will be a testimony of what God has done in it. In the first place for our children, as well as for all those around us.

Let us listen to the son of Korah in Psalm 48. After their jubilation for the salvation of Zion is their call:
“Walk about Zion and go around her;
Count her towers;
Consider her ramparts;
Go through her palaces,
That you may tell it to the next generation.
For such is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will guide us until death” (Psa 48:12-1412Walk about Zion and go around her;
Count her towers;
13Consider her ramparts;
Go through her palaces,
That you may tell [it] to the next generation.
14For such is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will guide us until death.
).

If we go over the wall like this, we will see the city of God as God sees it. We will then see the church as it is according to God’s counsel. That processes expressions of thanks and these in turn are a testimony for all who see and hear it. That is the effect of separation according to God’s thoughts.

The first choir of thanksgiving departs from the west, near the Valley Gate. Their route runs along the southern part of the wall in the direction of the Refuse Gate. Ezra is at the head of this procession. Nehemiah makes way, as it were, for the Word of God in the person of Ezra. That must lead and be followed by all.

We then come to the Fountain Gate, to draw fresh water, to be revived and encouraged by the Word of God on our way. Our gaze is lifted up, through the steps, to the dwelling place of David, a picture of our Lord in heaven to Whom all power is given in heaven and on earth.

When we have the sight of the Lord Jesus, we come to the Water Gate in the east. The east speaks among other things of the future, of the expectation of the Lord Jesus. Water speaks not only of refreshment but also of cleansing (Eph 5:2626so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,). We are looking forward to Him and this will have a cleansing effect on us, because “everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1Jn 3:33And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.).


The Second Choir of Thanksgiving

38The second choir proceeded to the left, while I followed them with half of the people on the wall, above the Tower of Furnaces, to the Broad Wall, 39and above the Gate of Ephraim, by the Old Gate, by the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped at the Gate of the Guard.

Nehemiah walks behind the second choir of thanksgiving. He is not ahead. Every thought of self-interest is missing. He does not walk there in the spirit of Nebuchadnezzar with the thought: ‘Isn’t this the great wall I built?’ (Dan 4:3030The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’). He knows that he is but an instrument of the LORD.

This second choir passes a lot of buildings. Except for the Ephraim Gate and the Prison Gate they are all mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (see there for the commentary on these structures). Possibly nothing had to be repaired at the Gate of Ephraim and the Gate of the Guard. While this choir is walking over the wall, these buildings again come to their attention.

We will always have to be reminded of certain truths on our way in separation according to God’s intent. Peter is committed to reminding believers of what they have learned (2Pet 1:1212Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you [already] know [them], and have been established in the truth which is present with [you].). Jude does the same (Jude 1:55Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.). And Paul does not find it sad to repeat things he has pointed out before (Phil 3:11Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things [again] is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.).

There is always the danger of forgetfulness. This forgetfulness can strike in the breadth of our life of faith. Then we don’t take it so carefully anymore. We become more and more absorbed in the things of this life and no longer worry so much about the interests of God. God’s interests are getting sidelined. We forget what He has done for us and no longer examine His Word.

This forgetfulness can also strike us in the depths of our life of faith. Then we will emphasize certain truths, while forgetting other truths, no longer paying attention to them. And when others point this out to us, we declare “those other truths” of a lower, less important order or as not applicable to us.


Both Choirs in the House of God

40Then the two choirs took their stand in the house of God. So did I and half of the officials with me; 41and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah, with the trumpets; 42and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam and Ezer. And the singers sang, with Jezrahiah [their] leader,

The tour over the wall is finished. This gave the choirs a great impression of the size and location of the city, each from a different perspective. Wouldn’t that say something about our view of the church? Who dares to say that he oversees the whole plan of God? Which local church, however endowed with gifts of great insight, can say that it oversees the whole of God’s thoughts?

“We know in part” (1Cor 13:99For we know in part and we prophesy in part;). We need each other to come to a full view. “All the saints” are needed to discover “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:18-1918may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.).

Both choirs meet in the house of God, in the presence of God. There they become one mighty choir. If the Word of God precedes us on our way over the wall and leads us into the joy of what is dedicated to God, we will end up in the house of God. That will be in perfection when the Lord Jesus comes to take us into the Father’s house. But it is also true now. We will praise Him in the church in the presence of God with all the ‘members of the two choirs’ for all that He has done (Eph 3:20-2120Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,21to Him [be] the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.).


Great Joy

43and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.

The walking over the wall, taking possession of the city for God under thanksgiving to dedicate it to Him, culminates in great joy. This is the result when His people walk before Him in holiness and truth. In accordance with the “great joy”, “great sacrifices” are offered. Thus God is honored and admired. He receives all thanks and worship for what He has given His people.

The sacrifices speak of the Lord Jesus. It does not say what kind of sacrifices they are. Most likely they are peace offerings. Of those offerings God gets His share, and the priest and the people also get their share (Lev 3:1111Then the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar [as] food, an offering by fire to the LORD.; 7:19,3119‘Also the flesh that touches anything unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be burned with fire. As for [other] flesh, anyone who is clean may eat [such] flesh.31The priest shall offer up the fat in smoke on the altar, but the breast shall belong to Aaron and his sons.). The peace offering is an offering that expresses the fellowship between God, the Lord Jesus, and His people. Through the offering of the Lord Jesus this has become possible. It is a ‘great’ sacrifice. For us it means that we have a great impression of the work of the Lord Jesus and tell that to God and to each other.

The fellowship we are allowed to have with one another is experienced in a special way at the Table of the Lord. There we think of His work and remember His death. On the one hand it makes us sad that we are the cause of His death through our sins. On the other hand, we remember with joy that He did it, making fellowship with Him and God and with one another possible. That is why we speak of “the cup of blessing” or “the cup of praise” at the Supper of the Lord (1Cor 10:14-1814Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.15I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.16Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?17Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.18Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?). At the celebration of the Lord’s Supper we will rejoice at the extent to which we have “walked on the wall” during the week.

In this verse we read about “rejoicing” and “joy” no less than four times. This joy comes from God. He is its source. It is a great joy, not only for men, but also for women and children. The added value of this joy is that it is a testimony to the wider environment (cf. Ezra 3:1313so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.). All those who did not go along share in the joy. It is like the anointing of the Lord Jesus through Mary, through which “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (Jn 12:33Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.), so that everyone present could smell the fragrance of the perfume intended for the Lord Jesus.


Take Care of the Levites

44On that day men were also appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served. 45For they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification, together with the singers and the gatekeepers in accordance with the command of David [and] of his son Solomon. 46For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, [there were] leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. 47So all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah gave the portions due the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated [portion] for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated [portion] for the sons of Aaron.

Another consequence of the walking on the wall is the care of God’s servants to further His work. When there is dedication, not only the heart is touched, but also the wallet (Heb 13:15-1615Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.). Where there is thankfulness to God, it will also be seen in doing good to and sharing with people. Giving love does not empty the heart; giving money does not empty the wallet (Mal 3:10-1110Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.11Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast [its grapes],” says the LORD of hosts.).

After the LORD has received His part in the “great sacrifices”, the servants receive their part of the people. If God is praised for the restoration He has given, there will also be thankfulness for the service His servants do among the people. Judah rejoices.

Our joy is expressed in accepting each service on behalf of God and in supporting it in a practical way. If servants are not accepted and even forgotten, it is proof of contempt by the people for what the church is to Christ. For Christ, out of love for His church, gave ministers for the edification of His church (Eph 4:1111And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,).

The care of priests and Levites goes out to the service of their God and what is needed for cleansing. Everything that happens for God can only be acknowledged and accepted by Him if it is in accordance with His holiness. He cannot accept anything that is unclean. But He also knows who we are. That is why He provides opportunities to serve Him in a way that is pleasing to Him.

There is order by obeying the institutions of the past. The standards of purity have not changed since the days of David and Solomon. What those standards are, God has revealed in His Word. Because He has not changed, the standards of purity have not changed for us either. If we want to serve Him as a priest, Levite, singer and gatekeeper, we will consult His Word. Then we will go back to the origin and we will not be at the mercy of human traditions that are constantly being adjusted in the course of time.

This is not about adapted melodies or adapted language. It is about the content of our thanksgiving. Are God and the Lord Jesus still the object of it? Do the songs bear witness to the necessary reverence? Is the content in accordance with Scripture? The preference of many Christians is more and more for songs that “sing well”, that give a certain good feeling. The content is hardly looked at, let alone tested against the Bible. Songs in which the Holy Spirit is sung to and worshiped have become commonplace. Respect also disappears more and more. God and Jesus are brought down to the level of man. Certainly, we may speak boldly with and about God and Christ, but we must never become popular or banal.

The last verse (verse 4747So all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah gave the portions due the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated [portion] for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated [portion] for the sons of Aaron.) aptly connects the days of Nehemiah with the days of Zerubbabel. In both cases it concerns a revival that God has worked. In both cases the same things happen. There is great willingness to give. There is given for the maintenance of the singers and the gatekeepers. Every day they get what they need. Every day they can do their work, without having to worry about their livelihood.

Singers turn to God in thanksgiving. Gatekeepers look at people. They see to it that only they who have the right to do so enter the city. For us this means that we have to make sure that our thanks to God and our care for the church are before our attention every day, that these aspects, so to speak, receive food every day, are present in us alive.

All Levites are thought of. They receive consecrated portions. The people give them what they have set aside for the LORD. In turn, the Levites give the consecrated portions to the priests.

The foregoing expresses a beautiful mind. Where the Lord becomes great for the hearts and there is dedication to Him, the people will function the way He wants them to. Each member fulfills the task assigned to him or her for the benefit of every other member. This working among God’s people culminates in what is given to the priests, who here are called “the sons of Aaron”. This designation emphasizes the practice of the priesthood in the awareness of the connection with the Lord Jesus as the High Priest. Thus, finally, the heart is turned toward Him.


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