The Importance of Godly Worship — Neh. 7

Why was it so important that the Jews return from exile in Babylon and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem? What was God trying to accomplish?  What was the ultimate goal?  There were a ton of devastated cities back then; cities where enemies had trampled down the people and burned their walls and reduced their houses to a pile of rubble.  What was so special about Jerusalem?

This is a transition chapter between the two main sections of the Book of Nehemiah.  You cannot study this chapter in isolation.  It is a transition between a historical record that centers on the governing leadership of Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls of the city and a record that centers on the priestly ministry of Ezra in reviving the people.  Beginning in Chap. 8 we will see the importance of the Word of God in that revival process.  We will see the necessity of holiness – including the corrective process of repentance from sin and rededication to righteousness.

Look back at the origins of the nation of Israel.  God called Abram to take his family and leave their homeland of Ur to travel to a promised land which He would show them.  You see the faithfulness of Abram reflected in his three defining activities:  (12:7-8; 13:4, 18; 21:33)

- pitched his tent – Guidance / Pilgrim existence

- built an altar – Worship, Sacrifice – Priority of Worship

- called on the name of the Lord – Faith, Prayer

Look back at the building of the original temple by Solomon in the City of David.

Work would be accomplished by Solomon, not David – 2 Sam. 7:13, 26 – goal was worship;

2 Sam. 24:18 – place for future temple picked out by God – threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (vs. 25)  — pretty specific selection

1 Kings 8:11 – the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord when the Ark of the Covenant was brought inside

The outer shell of church structure and organization means nothing unless it facilitates the inward heart worship of the one true God

John 4:23-24an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Maybe worship doesn’t mean much to you as you come here this morning; hopefully you will come away with a sense of how important worship is to God; created to worship; diff than animals

3 PREPARATIONS THAT REFLECT THE IMPORTANCE OF WORSHIP

I. (:1-4)  THE COMMANDING OF GOD’S PEOPLE —

THE LEADERSHIP FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNING AND GUARDING MUST PROVIDE A SECURE SETTING FOR WORSHIP

True godly worship is eroded when leaders are lax in their governing and in their guarding

A.  (:1-2)  Principles of Governing Diligently

1.  Key Priorities Pursued in Leadership

a.  First Things First – nothing happens until you have basic perimeter security

Now when the wall was rebuilt

What looked like Mission Impossible now is Mission Accomplished

b.  Finishing Touches

and I had set up the doors,”

c.  Focus on Core Functionality

and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed

Gatekeepers – probably of the walls rather than the temple here

Look at the importance of music in the realm of worship

At least 18 references to singers and 8 references to giving thanks

Not just an optional accessory – serves a core function

- appreciate those who serve in this ministry

- prayer for strong leadership here going forward

- are we singing with all of our heart to the Lord

Wiersbe: What good are strong new gates if nobody is guarding them and controlling who enters and leaves the city?  What good are walls if the gates are open to every foe who wants to enter the city?

2.  Key People Positioned in Leadership – Importance of gift of administration

then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.”

Get the right people on the bus – not nepotism here

What qualities do you value in spiritual leadership?

- Faithfulness  — 1 Cor. 4:2 “required of stewards that one be found trustworthy

- Fear of God

Yamauchi: men of integrity – men of truth; used once in the plural in Ex. 18:21; cf. Paul’s praise of Timothy in Phil 2:19-21

Wiersbe: Like all good leaders, Nehemiah knew he couldn’t do the job alone.  One of his first official acts was to appoint two assistants  . . . The citadel was a fortress in the temple area, guarding the north wall of the city, which was especially vulnerable to attack.

B.  (:3-4)  Principles of Guarding Securely

1.  Take Extra Precautions Where Necessary

Then I said to them, ‘Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot, and while they are standing guard, let them shut and bolt the doors.’”

Don’t get sloppy or complacent about this matter of guarding the city of God

Look at all of the worldly practices that have crept into the worship of God in the church today; someone was not minding the gate; someone let the enemy come within the camp

People with discernment can be easily criticized as being too harsh when in reality they are fulfilling their responsibility to guard the truth – Titus 1:9  “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” – today people minimize the importance of sound doctrine; they call you judgmental and harsh if you are bold to refute those who contradict

MacArthur: In the ancient Near East, it was customary to open the city gates at sunrise and close them at sunset.  Nehemiah recommended that his not be done, because of the hostility of the enemies.  Rather the gates were to be kept shut until well into the heat of the morning when everyone was up and active.  When the gates were shut, they were to be guarded by sentinels at watch stations and in front of their own vulnerable homes (v.4).

2.  Task Each Member of the Community with their Responsibility

Also appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.”

Don’t rely on outside mercenaries

Define the scope of their responsibility

Two types of guards:

- those patrolling the wall and responsible for specific sections

- those standing watch by their own homes

3.  Taylor the Security to the Particular Vulnerabilities of the Situation

Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built.”

Nehemiah = a Man of Vision — saw both the vulnerabilities and the potential for the city of Jerusalem

Much work remained to be done; but securing the walls was a good start

Illustrations: Some people have no vision:

A Western Union internal memo in 1876 said…
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

In the 1920s, David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio said…
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”

A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –Fred Smith, by the way, went on to found Federal Express Corp.

Importance of Worship: Ps. 29: 1-2Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.”

II.  (:5-65)  THE COMMUNITY OF GOD’S PEOPLE –

THEY MUST ASSEMBLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD’S GUIDELINES FOR WORSHIP

A.  (:5)  Task of Enrollment of those Dedicated to God’s Kingdom Purposes

Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies.  Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first in which I found the following record.”

B.  (:6-7)  Recognition of Rulers who Understood the Importance of Jerusalem

These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city.  Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvaim Nehus, Baanah.”

Wiersbe: These twelve men may have represented the twelve tribes of Israel, even though ten of the tribes had been assimilated by the Assyrians when the Northern Kingdom was captured in 22 B.C.  The “Nehemiah” mentioned here is not the author of this book, since these men lived nearly a century before.  It appears that these were the elders of the people who helped Zerubbabel, the governor, establish the nation.

C.  (:8-65)  Recognition of Roles — Categories of People – Look at the emphasis on roles that facilitate Godly Worship

1.  (:8-38)  People of Israel

Messianic line had to be verifiable

God had not forgotten His people

Importance of recognizing people for their role

Wiersbe: these people were God’s “bridge” from the defeats of the past to the hopes of the future.  These Jews were the “living link” that connected the historic past with the prophetic future and made it possible for Jesus Christ to come into the world.

2.  (:39-42)  Priests

3.  (:43-45)  Levites

4.  (:46-60)  Temple Servants and Sons of Solomon’s servants

a.  (:46-56)  Temple Servants

b.  (:57-59)  Sons of Solomon’s servants

c.  (:60)  Total

All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.”

D.  (:61-65)  Purity of Worship – Legitimacy is a Key Issue — Documentation Problems

Purity of the church must be maintained

III.  (:66-73)  THE CONSECRATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE –

THEY MUST PUT A PRIORITY ON THE HOUSE OF GOD BEFORE THEIR OWN HOMES

A.  (:66-69)  Strength in Numbers – People of God much stronger when assembled together

1.  The People

The whole assembly together was 42,360, besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers.

2.  Their Mounts

Their horses were 736; their mules, 245; their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.”

B. (:70-72)  Sacrificial Giving – God raises up the resources to accomplish His work

1.  Introduction

Some from among the heads of fathers’ households gave to the work.

2.  Political Leader

The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 basins, 530 priests’ garments.

3.  Family Leaders

Some of the heads of fathers’ households gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas.

4.  General Public

That which the rest of the people gave was 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,000 silver minas and 67 priests’ garments.”

Look at the godly means of raising money to conduct the work of God; we live in such a pragmatic age; whatever happened to freewill giving

You don’t see any coercion here; no strong arm tactics

2 dangers:

- regarding the material things of the church as most important

- regarding the material things of the church as irrelevant

C.  (:73)  Secondary Priorities – Emphasizing God’s work does not hinder the provision of our personal needs

Now the priests, the Levites, the gate-keepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants and all Israel, lived in their cities.  And when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were in their cities.”

They remembered the local cities from which they had come, and they returned back to those cities.  But they first gave priority to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

When we give God the priority and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He provides for those secondary priorities that are important to us

CONCLUSION:

Maybe you are here today as just an empty wall – just an outer structure with no inward spiritual life; no heart to genuinely worship God in spirit and in truth.

We are not playing church here; we are involved in the hard work of governing and guarding to facilitate what is of ultimate importance to God – the worship of the one true God in holiness and from the heart.

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