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©Michael Player

Chapter 12:1-43 (ESV)

Posted on November 14, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 12:1-43 (ESV) - These are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra... These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua.

And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui…

And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers' houses…

In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the Levites were recorded as heads of fathers' houses; so too were the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. As for the sons of Levi, their heads of fathers' houses were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah… These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra, the priest and scribe.

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.

Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks…  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.

Question to consider: What does this celebration make you think of?

For the sake of today’s study, I did not include all of the names written in the chapter, but I encourage you to take some time on your own to read through them just to get an idea of what was involved in this celebration. Basically, everyone from the very first group (including women and children) that came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and Jeshua the high priest until Nehemiah and Ezra the scribe surrounded the entire city and played their part in this massive festival. This time of rejoicing was so great that people who lived beyond Judea heard their shouts of joy.

Often people get so caught up in the Law of God that they fail to enjoy being in relationship with Him and with one another. This particular gathering was especially noteworthy, for the people had come through so much. Obviously, the exile was a result of generations of ignoring God’s Law and perverting His worship, but this celebration was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I am sure there were many people who never thought they’d see this day.

At this moment, the priests, the people, the gates and the wall were all purified, the choir was giving thanks, and the sacrificial feast was grand. The statement, “God made them rejoice with great joy,” gives the impression that God, along with the hosts of heaven, rejoiced along with them.

We live in a dark world where there is always work to be done, always someone there to criticize, always an accuser who wants you to feel bad for what you didn’t accomplish, always someone to remind you that death is just around the corner or that doom is certain. Much of this is noise from the enemy who wants you to constantly feel helpless and discouraged and without hope. This is not the God we worship. The God we worship is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

Remember back in chapter eight when the people heard the reading of the Law and were cut to the heart in grief. Nehemiah’s response to them was, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) 

I’d argue that this moment was the fulfillment of those words from Nehemiah, and yet even this was just a type and shadow of the festal gathering in the kingdom of God at the resurrection of Christ. In this moment, we get a foretaste of the feast to come every time we gather together at the Lord’s table, and so we should come to the table rejoicing, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. One day, all the dead will be raised, we will be reunited together with Christ, and our shouts of joy will be heard throughout the universe.


Dear heavenly Father, please let the hope of Christ’s return be our source of joy as we face the trials and tribulations of this world. Help us to sing with joy when we gather around the Lord’s table, remembering all that You have done and clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Amen.