Daily Readings and Thought for November 24th. “JOY OF JERUSALEM WAS HEARD FAR AWAY”
In Nehemiah today we read “and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” [Ch.12 v.43] How was this? Some of the chapters in this book might not seem very interesting to read, but what we learn as we read is the very thorough organisation of the Levites, the nation’s priests – and the extent of their role in the nation. Rather different to what is seen as a priest’s role today. Of course, there really is only one Priest today, the Lord Jesus Christ, as we will be reading next week. (Hebrews 3 v.1; 4 v.14; 6 v.20)
When the wall had been rebuilt “they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication (of the wall) with gladness, with thanksgiving and with singing”[v.27] Several musical instruments are used, singers among the Levites are “gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem” [v.28]. Nehemiah appoints “two great choirs” [v.31] one goes south, the other north, upon the walls [v.31,38]. Both choirs ended up in the Temple [v.40].
There is a thorough organisation of responsibilities, “men were appointed over storerooms, the contribution, the firstfruits, and the tithes” [v.44] The gatekeepers had to be provided for [v.47] and with many gates that would need quite some organisation. All this made us think of the Temple that is to come – “the house of prayer for all nations” [Mark 11 v.17] that Jesus spoke about – and other prophets had written about.
The climax is in Revelation and the wonder of the resurrection “over such the second death has no power (instead they are welcomed into Kingdom) but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” [Ch.20 v.6] There was joy in Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day – but how much greater the future joy! Our imagination cannot grasp the picture in any meaningful way, it will be heard more than “far away. ”But how few today are interested to hear these things? Those who are not will never experience the “joy of Jerusalem” that is prophesied.