Friday, November 9, 2012

a joy heard far away

And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.
Nehemiah 12:43

This celebration came after a lot of hard work and tears. The hard work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was done. But the hard work of resettling Jerusalem had to be complete before this celebrations could truly occur at this scale. And in between those two events was a tearful renewal of the covenant as the people took responsibility for past sins and recommitted to follow The Lord and keep His Law in their hearts and lives.

Nehemiah organized a massive city-wide worship service. The Levites stationed choirs and worship leaders all along the wall. The city was encircled by praise. And when the joy started in song, then all of Jerusalem ...every man, woman and child... joined in. It was impressive.

The joyful celebration was so festive that the sound carried away from the city to echo in the Judean hills. The whole of Judea was aware of the worship of God in Jerusalem on that day. It was a joy that carried on the winds of praise.

There can be moments where worship is this sort of transcendent experience for me. And I am transported to a hope for eternal pleasures from God. That is the emotion I feel when I read this text. I cannot fathom the joy that must have swept Jerusalem on that day. But I do know that eternity will be blessed with a constant sensation of it. And that is a hope that helps me carry on when joy is fleeting right now.

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