Nehemiah 12 has the celebration continuing around the completion of the wall around Jerusalem. He gathers the Levites to come to the city. The Levites had many responsibilities in the life and worship of Israel, but one of the most important jobs they had was to lead the people in songs of worship and praise to God. According to Guzik There are at least twenty-two different musical instruments mentioned in the Bible, including the harp, the lyre (an ancient guitar), horns, trumpets, flutes, tambourines, drums, cymbals, and bells. The Levites were specially appointed to use these instruments to lead the people in worshipping God through singing.
Nehemiah is dedicating the wall as part of the celebration. “I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks”. Notice that the singers sang loudly. They had to be heard, because as glorious as the instruments were, the people would follow the lead of the singers in worship. They were overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving, considering all God had done. What a sight as Nehemiah has the choir split in half and go opposite directions walking on the wall.
“The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away”. Their worship was a testimony to others, and what others heard was not so much the singing itself as the joy. We often worry about others hearing us sing; but what God wants to hear and what others should hear is not so much your singing, but your joy. We are told to make a joyful noise, not sing like an opera singer! Nehemiah wanted to be sure his enemies not only saw the wall, but heard the joy of the people for accomplishing the task and being in God’s presence.
There was a lot going on during this celebration and dedication:
- This was a day of giving. People brought their offerings, firstfruits, tithes to the storehouse of the Levites, and they did it with joy because they enjoyed supporting the priests and Levites ministering on their behalf.
- This was a day of purity. It was an ongoing concern, not a one-time ceremony.
- It was a day of consecration. Holy things were set apart for the Levites, speaking of the separation unto God.
What a day of celebration it was. Nehemiah had come back to town and not only created the vision, he led the building, protected his people, and now leads them to celebrate the victory!