|We have condensed today’s reading, but encourage you to read the full chapter.|
When it was time for the dedication of Jerusalem’s wall, they sought out the Levites in all the places where they lived in order to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with joy, with thanks and singing, and with cymbals, harps, and lyres.
The singers also gathered together both from the region around Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites, also from Beth-hagilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, because the singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem. After the priests and the Levites purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall.
Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and organized two large groups to give thanks. The first group went in procession on the wall toward the right, in the direction of the Dung Gate. Following them went Hoshaiah and half the officials of Judah, along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. There were also some young priests with trumpets—Zechariah son of Jonathan son of Shemaiah son of Mattaniah son of Micaiah son of Zaccur son of Asaph— along with his associates Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They brought the musical instruments of David the man of God. Ezra the scribe went in front of them.
When they reached the Fountain Gate they went straight up by the stairs of David’s City, on the ascent to the wall, past the house of David to the Water Gate on the east. The second group went in procession to the left. I followed them with half of the people along the wall past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, past the Gate of Ephraim and over the Mishneh Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred as far as the Sheep Gate. They came to a stop at the Gate of the Guard.
Then both groups of those who gave thanks stood in God’s house. I was there too along with the half of the officials who were with me. Also there were the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah with trumpets. Also there were Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader.
They offered great sacrifices on that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced, and the sound of the joy in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.
The dedication of the wall was a huge, robust “coming home” celebration as the Jews reclaim a city - a heritage - that was once theirs. They were frightened and skeptical as they started the wall and now their triumph and joy prevail. Levites and singers are called from far and wide. Boisterous processions of music, singing, and shouting come from opposite ends of the city to converge upon the temple where they give thanks for the great work God has done. The visible work is the wall, but God has also done a great work in the hearts of the people, bringing them back into relationship with him. They shout it loud for all to hear, so that others may know of their God’s great and glorious presence.
On Thanksgiving, it’s easy to focus our gratitude on the things we can see - our family, friends, homes, country, etc. What opportunities might you have today to celebrate the work God is doing within you so that others might see him?