Neh. 12:27, 31
“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.” “I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.”
We are the saints and priests of God in this world, just as the Levites in Nehemiah we are being sought out to celebrate joyfully God’s Greatness and Thankfulness to Him, we are to rebuild places of destruction and celebrate God’s power to do that.
In the Hebrew, thanks means:
1) confession, praise, thanksgiving
a) give praise to God
b) thanksgiving in songs of liturgical worship, hymn of praise
c) thanksgiving choir or procession or line or company.
d) thank-offering, sacrifice of thanksgiving
Check this out with me.
Start with me in Nehemiah 12:27-43. Nehemiah is a man with a heart to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, as well as the Israelites commitment to God! We see in the 12th chapter the walls were rebuilt and it was time to celebrate! The two choirs giving thanks worked their way over and around the walls of the city towards each other to end up in the House of God.
Some meanings to keep in mind, the names of the gates and towers they walked around and over as the two choirs sang praises and worshiped God in Thanksgiving:
1st Choir route (they walked around the base)
Dung Gate = ash heap, a place of destruction, a point of despair
Fountain Gate = Eye, physical or spiritual sight, spring, well, presence
Water Gate = water, waters, water of feet, urine, transitory things, danger, violence
2nd Choir route (they walked around the top of the wall)
Tower of the Ovens = tower, elevated stage/pulpit, raised bed – furnace, God’s wrath, His Furnace, oven, fire-pot
Broad Wall = wide, spacious, liberty – surrounded, walled in
Ephraim Gate = “double ash-heap: I shall be doubly fruitful”
Old Gate = old, store, storage
Fish Gate = fish, as in prolific, to multiply, increase, grow, a covering, a cover
Tower of Hananeel = God has favored, “which God gave”
Tower of Meah = Hundred
Sheep Gate = migrate, sheep, flocks, of multitude
Prison Gate = guard, ward, prison, mark, target
Ok, go with me to Lamentations. This book is about the feelings over a destroyed Jerusalem. The timelines don’t match so it isn’t the same point in time for the Israelites, but let’s look at the similarities between the feelings, as we read through Lamentations, and the Gates mentioned in Nehemiah.
The destruction of Jerusalem (Dung Gate and Prison Gate), the writer is speaking to “all her people & all you peoples”1:11, 1:18 (Sheep Gate), 1:16 overflowing tears (Water Gate), 2:1 covered (Fish Gate), 2:3b burned like a flaming fire (Tower of the Ovens), 2:4 pleasing to the eye (Fountain Gate), 2:5b multiplied mourning (Fish Gate), 3:12 made me the target (Prison Gate), 4:5 ash heaps (Dung Gate)… you can find more yourself, but you get the idea that Lamentations flows with the Gates in Nehemiah 12.
What can we get from this about Thanksgiving?
Jerusalem went through seriously hard times, because of their sin, yes, but destruction in a life is still devastating whatever the reason. The writer of Lamentations expresses his grief, BUT acknowledges reason to be Thankful in the midst of the worst:
3:21-24 “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Nehemiah is the story of how God pursues rebuilding of the ruins, and healing to the places of destruction. We can take from this connection: How we can rebuild, and come into wholeness. We can walk around and over the past places (gates) of wounds with Songs of Praise, Thanksgiving, and Confessions of what God has done to restore us, or how He will restore us!! Praise God!
Whatever destructions, ash heaps, pain, wounds we have or will have, aren’t meant to be permanent! They are transitory places that we go through, BUT then God brings us out and rebuilds to something better, and stronger. We have every reason to walk around and over those places and Confess Praises to God’s Greatness over them!
Living in Thankfulness brings a breaking to the enemy’s tactics to keep us depressed and wounded. It’s normal and healthy to express grief over loss, but be careful. The enemy is there with his lies: that it’s all over, that it’s hopeless, that God’s left you… all with the hopes that the place of grief for us will be a permanent dwelling by what we say (confession), instead of a place we GO THROUGH and come out of by God’s Grace. Remember, when we grieve we also have reason to stay Thankful, and should keep our struggles in life tempered with Thankfulness so that we do come out and don’t live there.
Victory!! Praise God we have victory over all in this life!
“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.”