Accompanying Ray Stedman sermons: The Ways God Works and The Sound of Rejoicing
Our passage opens by mentioning Zerubbabel (a priest) and Jeshua (a Levite) who led the first group of returning exiles approximately 100 years before Nehemiah. This passage reminds us not to forget the heroes of the faith that have gone before us.
Stedman: I would urge you, on the basis of a passage like this, to read biography! It will bless you. It will challenge you and strengthen you to see how God has used men and women of the past to stand against the temptations and the pressures of the world and accomplish much for his glory.
There is a lot of information given in our passage today (and yesterday).
Why is all this information given to us? I think it is clear that it marks the deeds of God as part of the record of history. That is one of the great advantages of Christianity over all the other religions of the world. Most of them are religious philosophies, or simply the musings of men meditating upon various aspects of life. Many of them are a record of visions and dreams of dubious origin. But when you come to the record of the Bible, it is based upon facts. It is not legend. It is not myth. It is not fiction. It is not a record of philosophies or of the inventions of men. It is made up of historic facts. God grounds these great events in the history of the world itself.
Though faith obviously implies a certain amount of hope in things not clearly seen or understood, our faith is not based on myth, but rather historical evidence.
The rest of the chapter turns to celebration and the dedication of the wall.
True celebration contains joyfulness (v27), purity (v30), and thankfulness (v31).
The final account of this passage is about the offering. The offerings were given with pleasure, according to the command of God, and took each other (in this case, the Levites) into consideration.
We ought to take special care to recognize that mutual cooperation and mutual support of one another is part of the service of celebration. So let us celebrate with joy, in purity, and with thanksgiving unto God!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Nehemiah 13