So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
The wall of the city was designed to protect the people inside. However, the only real protection for God’s people is a relationship with God based on the truth of God’s Word. Although the mission began with the reconstruction of the wall, the next step was the reinstruction of the people.
Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,
2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.
During the first part of the mission these men had proven themselves. Now, as they moved on to the next part, they were given responsibility to uphold the standards that were set up to establish the mission on the truth. Like I said the wall was there to protect the people inside, and guidelines were instituted to insure it functioned like it was supposed to.
And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.
4 Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.
5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein. [The rest of chapter seven lists the genealogy.]
Even after the mission is complete (in this case, the building of the wall), oversight is necessary to keep the mission pure. This may involve a new vision and a new mission. For Nehemiah when the reconstruction of the wall was complete, the new mission was the reinstruction of the people. The rededication of the wall as recorded in chapter twelve was at least twelve years after its completion as noted in Nehemiah 7:1. There was much instruction to be done before the wall was rededicated. The reinstruction of the people like the reconstruction of the wall was done publically with everyone participating (Nehemiah 8:1-7). Just as the reconstruction of the wall was organized, so was the reinstruction of the people. Everyone had a place and everyone participated.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. [That’s the pure instruction of the Word.] 9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. [This is the practical instruction that was necessary to accomplish the mission.] For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
It was the understanding of the Word that made the practical actions so logical and reasonable to follow.
Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.
2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day [3 hours]; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
They came back to the Word and put significant time into reestablishing it in their lives. That is a good reminder for us. We will find great joy in seeing a mission come to fruition. The toil is worth the sheer satisfaction of seeing the vision complete. But we also want to keep the mission pure as it moves ahead after its completion.
By Wayne Clapp