Perhaps you can think of an event you’ve been to, perhaps a large concert, a parade, a championship celebration, a large conference, where there is a large crowd celebrating something.
This is similar to what Nehemiah and the people did when they dedicated the Walls of Jerusalem. The Jewish people and Jerusalem were on the brink of destruction and only God could have brought about the restoration they experienced and witnessed, even as they worked to help make it happen. As they prepare to finally dedicate the walls, what should they do? How did they respond to this grace?
In light of all God has done through Christ and in our own lives, how do we respond? How should we respond to what God has done?
We joyfully celebrate and worship God.
12:27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.
This is a large celebration. This is a joyful occasion. A time to celebrate God and to worship him with music. There is something powerful about celebrating joyfully who God is and what he’s done.
This is something we ought to do for big occasions. Like we celebrated confirmation last week, or how we might celebrate a baptism, a wedding, and how our church should celebrate and dedicate our church renovation to the Lord when it is complete.
But more than just big occasions, Joyful celebration and rejoicing is actually something we need regularly- to connect with God and to get through the difficulties of life.
Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
This is actually a spiritual discipline. To rejoice in God, IN SPITE of the enemy’s work and IN SPITE of the brokenness around us. It’s also a spiritual discipline to PAUSE to celebrate and worship God. The people didn’t finish the wall and say, ok, what’s next? What our next project? What next on the list? What do we need to do now?
We don’t do a very good job in our culture of pausing to enjoy God, and to celebrate him. We are too quick to move from one activity to the next. This is why weekly worship is a spiritual discipline. It’s a pause in your week to say no. I’m not going to let the tyranny of my calendar, my projects, or my hobbies to keep me from celebrating my God with God’s people. It’s at least, a weekly moment where we sing, we make music, we organize for worship. We are meant to do this joyfully. Not as an dreary obligation, but as a joyful opportunity to celebrate God. Joy and celebration should be an attitude we bring to our weekly celebration of who God is.
We give thanks for all God has done.
Thanksgiving is a huge theme in our text. Giving thanks to God is an incredibly important part of worship.
Eph 5:19-20 “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Giving thanks to God is crucial to our musical and joyful worship. Just as we have trouble with pausing to celebrate, we have trouble pausing to give thanks. Sometimes we have trouble getting specific with our praise and our gratitude. But that’s why worship and thanksgiving are spiritual disciplines. It’s going to take extra effort to be specific about the things we adore about God and getting specific about the blessings he has poured out upon us.
We give great sacrifices unto God.
Our text ends on a really joyful note:
43 “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”
Sacrifices were costly and were given as an act of worship. Great celebrations in the Bible were often accompanied by great sacrifices. What we give to God is an expression of how much we adore and celebrate him and it’s an expression of how grateful we are for all that he has done.
See the connection? We adore God, we give him thanks, and giving back to him at personal cost is a practical way of showing that. We don’t give animal sacrifices anymore. Jesus gave the ultimate gift of being a sacrifice on the cross for our sins. But now our sacrifices to God include giving and good works. Your giving is part of response to God and what he has done for you.
But giving isn’t the only sacrifice we can give.
Hebrews 13:6 “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.”
Doing good deeds and sharing with others, these are sacrifices of praise that God is pleased with. Worship, thanksgiving, giving generously, doing good deeds, sharing with others, and doing it all joyfully, these are sacrifices of praise. That’s how we respond to God. He is worthy. He is worthy of every song, of every praise, of every thanksgiving, of every dollar, of every minute sacrificed to do good for others. God is worthy. Let’s live lives of great sacrifice for the one who sacrificed it all because he loves us. He gave himself for us.
So the people joyfully celebrated and worshipped God. They gave thanks to him for redeeming the and restoring them. They gave great sacrifices to God.
- Develop a regular rhythm for gratitude.
- How are you doing at giving right now?
May you remember who our God is and may you meditate on all the marvelous things he has done. May this prompt you to celebrate joyfully in spite of everything, may it cause you to give thanks regularly, and may it inspire you to give great sacrifices of money and good deeds, for the glory of God and neighbor’s good.