The time of Nehemiah was a time of rebuilding. He was the leader who led the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. When they finished the wall, there was a dedication ceremony. In this ceremony, the people of God once again learned how to thank God.
 
Nehemiah 12:27-28 point two interesting points – “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem…” If you have noticed, the interesting phrases are “were sought out” and “were brought together.” These verses are telling us that previously they were engaged in praising and thanking God. But for a long time they have forgotten it. They must have thought that if there was no temple or walls there was no reason for thanksgiving. At this juncture, the people were reminded by Nehemiah to give thanks to God.
 
How did they give thanks again?
 
First, through singing. Nehemiah 12:31ff says “I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate… The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction.”
 
Singing has a mnemonic ability for people to remember words. Our brains are designed to remember songs. One verse for example, Psalm 47:6, commands us to sing four times – “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” We remember more when we sing compared to just talking. So, let us sing thanksgiving songs to God and remember His goodness to our lives.
 
Second, they brought their contributions, first fruits and tithes. Nehemiah 12:44 says, “At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law…”
 
They brought three specific things – contributions, first fruits and tithes. We, too, must do it. The contributions are for specific purposes. The first fruits are the best of our labor that we give to God. The tithes are of course, the tenth of our income.
 
What was the result of their thanksgiving? Nehemiah 12:43 tell us of the result – “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” Our thanksgiving must also be heard in our lips and be seen in our lives.
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Acting Director
Office of Communications
Central Philippine University
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