and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar, (12:43).
This chapter is an invitation to experience, along with the returnees, the realization of a dream, the culmination of years of waiting and wondering.
When the wall was completed, indicating the protection and safety they would now enjoy within the shelter of their beloved city, there was Great Joy and palpable jubilation. Their gladness and thanksgiving demanded a celebration worthy of this momentous occasion; for Great Joy is contagious and invites everyone to partake.
The people fully recognized and acknowledged the sole source of their Joy. After seventy years in captivity, they knew well the absence of joy, and they also knew well they had no one to blame but themselves. His Gift of Great Joy began with their gut-level repentance before Holy God (Nehemiah 9) and was demonstrated in their commitment in writing to consecrate and follow Him (Nehemiah 10) and to reestablish Jerusalem as His holy city (Nehemiah 11).
As the Lord led His repentant people in rebuilding and restoring their holy city and place of worship, He positioned them to experience the Joy of His Presence, the Great Joy He Has Given, as they gathered together to extol Him.
Consider Him Who Has Given Us Great Joy
- His Has Given Us Great Joy through Consecrated Dedication
- Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres, (12:27).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Purity
- The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates and the wall, (12:30).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Unity
- Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall, and I appointed two great choirs, the first proceeding to the right on top of the wall… 38 The second choir proceeded to the left… 40 Then the two choirs took their stand in the house of God, (12:31, 38, 40).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Generosity
- On that day men were also appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served (12:44).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Worship
- For they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification, together with the singers and the gatekeepers in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon, (12:45).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Praise and Thanksgiving
- For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God, (12:46).
- He Has Given Us Great Joy through Obedience
- So all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah gave the portions due the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated portion for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated portion for the sons of Aaron, (12:47).
How do we respond to Him Who Has Given Us Great Joy?
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full,” (John 15:10-11).
If there is an absence of His Great Joy in our lives, we must begin just as the returnees began; with repentance, a gut-level repentance that acknowledges we are not keeping His commandments.
Jesus said when we keep His commandments we will abide in His love, the very place His Great Joy is made full in us.
- Is His Great Joy a reality through my Consecrated Dedication?
- But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:62).
- Is His Great Joy evidenced through my Purity?
- How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word, (Psalm 119:9).
- How can a young man keep his way pure?
- Is His Great Joy manifested through my commitment to Unity?
- bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity, (Colossians 3:13-14).
- Is His Great Joy demonstrated through my Generosity?
- Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver, (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- Is His Great Joy realized through my Worship?
- Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, (Romans 12:1).
- Is His Great Joy practiced through my Praise and Thanksgiving?
- speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father, (Ephesians 5:19-20).
- Is His Great Joy made full through my Obedience?
- “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).
Today, may His Word lead us into that place of repentance, that as we confess our sins and commit to follow Him, we would be made ready to experience His Presence.
When we experience His Great Joy here on earth, it is a foreshadowing of the time when all of God’s children will be made ready to gather in the New Jerusalem to rejoice and worship Him Who Has Given Us Great Joy for all of eternity.
“Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready,” (Revelation 19:5-7).
And although this world is fallen, fraught with sin and evil, troubles and sorrow, we have hope; and we are to live in that hope by faith in Him Who Has Given Us His Great Joy.
“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you,” (John 16:22).
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, (Romans 15:13).
But there are still so many without His hope, who still do not yet know His Great Joy. Oh, Father, please grow us in our Consecrated Dedication, Purity, Unity, Generosity, Worship, Praise and Thanksgiving, and Obedience, that the Great Joy we have in You would be contagious.
Father, please may our lives become an invitation to the world, to partake of Your protection and safety through Jesus Christ. Father, please work in us, that others would hear of Your Great Love that sent Your Son to forgive their sins, that many would come to know Him Who Has Given Us Great Joy.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me,” (John 17:22-23).
And we look forward to sharing in the great celebration of Your Great Joy in Heaven, celebrating with all who have placed their faith in Him Who Has Given Us Great Joy.
“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance,” (Luke 15:7).