Praise in Nehemiah
- His help in times of trouble (2:8)
- Leaders who seek justice for all people (5:9-12)
- His guidance in making good choices (6:12)
- His word, which points us to him (8:3)
- Festivals that recall god’s history of kindness to his people (8:16-17)
- The sabbath, which has been set aside for worship and rest (13:19).
Worship in Nehemiah
Historic Christian worship usually includes four basic actions: entering into the Lord’s presence with praise, listening to God’s Word, gathering at the Lord’s Table, and going out to serve him in the world. In the ceremony recorded in Nehemiah 8:1-18, Ezra led the assembly of Jewish worshipers in a renewal of their covenant with the Lord. In this ceremony, which extended over several weeks, we discover strong similarities to the traditional pattern of Christian worship.
Ezra began by blessing the Lord and praising his greatness; the people responded by lifting their hands and saying, “Amen!” They worshiped the Lord their King by bowing to the ground (8:6). Ezra and the Levites then read from the Book of the Law and instructed the people. Finally, the leaders sent the people out to celebrate by eating and drinking: “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (8:10). After this the people celebrated the Festival of Shelters for eight days, according to the instructions of the law. The assembly reconvened later in the month.
With a few differences, traditional Christian worship continues these basic actions of praise, instruction, covenant renewal, and service. Although the Judeans could not gather at the Lord’s Table as do Jesus’ followers, it is easy to see the parallel between the Lord’s Supper and the Jews’ celebratory meal. As we participate with fellow believers in the fourfold structure of Christian worship, we join Ezra and the Jews of his day in renewing our covenant with God.
- Fasting and prayer can help us as we prepare for God to work in our life (1:4).
- Doing God’s work will often bring opposition (2:10).
- God has given each of his people skills and gifts to be used for his glory (3:1-32).
- Our fear of the Lord will affect our conduct toward other people (5:15 ).
- Even in times of prosperity and gladness, the Lord calls us to look out for those who have less (8:10).
- Public ceremonies can encourage and challenge us to keep our commitment to God (10:30-39).
- The Lord considers the Sabbath to be very important, and we should also (13:15-22).