The walls were completed in 52 days! Nehemiah also records that once they were in place, their enemies became afraid and lost their self-confidence – because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God.
Hot on the heels of the completion of the work came the celebration. Nehemiah had completed the work and established the genealogy of the Jews and appointed the leaders and priests so that everything could carry on decently and in order.
Then it was time to celebrate.
Here is another example of one of the best qualities of a leader – knowing how, when and how important it is to celebrate. People will often give and give and go on giving, however, they will be far more willing to give of themselves again if they have been able to celebrate their successes.
In our target-focused world, it is so easy just to drive from one target to the next without taking time out to celebrate. Oh, we will usually dissect every issue, which may or may not have contributed to a shortfall but how often will we celebrate a win? We will if it is the All Blacks – so why not at work (or in ministry) too?
They started by praising the Lord and then reading from His Word. There is an interesting qualification there – did you notice? “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.” That was so important, wasn’t it? How often have I heard someone read the Bible in public and there is either no enthusiasm or inflection so it all sounds monotonous, irrelevant and boring. These readers were so successful that the people understood what was being read and realised how much they had fallen short of God’s standard - so much so they were weeping in contrition.
So intense was their grief that Nehemiah had to stop them! He had to remind them that this was a day of Good News. A day of rejoicing at the grace and goodness of God. He encouraged them to have a party and celebrate, specifically with those who were worse off than they were.
Reading the Bible should always have that effect. We should be brought to a position of repentance and then released into praise and celebration because of the grace and love of God. We should also remember that what is true for us is also true for others and so we should share the Good News with those who haven’t heard or received it.
Jesus said that He had come to give us life and life in all its fullness. Let’s never forget that although God is a perfect, righteous and holy God, He is also our loving Heavenly Father and Redeemer. He is fun loving and creative. Let’s try and portray that to others so they too may have a new and exciting view of God.
Have you read the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation?
When you read it aloud to others do you try and make its message plain?
How do you celebrate your relationship with Jesus?