Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Delightful Dedication - Doug Rehberg

The man writes, “Growing up in Southern California, my family regularly attended the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. My mind swirls with memories of those magic mornings: waking up before dawn, bundling up with mittens and ski caps, walking in crowds of hurrying parade enthusiasts, anticipating a stunning pageant of floats and bands.

“I loved a parade then – and I still do – but the closest I have come to participating in a parade was my graduation processional at Harvard. Several weeks after submitting my doctoral dissertation, I flew back to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the ceremony. The other doctoral students and I, fully decked out in academic regalia of bright crimson robes, marched through Harvard Yard amid crowds, banners, music, and buoyant jubilation. Pageantry abounded everywhere – lots of pomp and plenty of circumstance. I felt the exuberant joy of having finished a long project – something I missed in the Federal Express office where I actually completed twelve years of graduate school by mailing off an approved dissertation. Not until the moment of parade and pageantry did I feel like I had truly graduated.”

But not all love a parade. Listen to what one Washington Post reporter thinks of President Trump’s dream of a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

“Trump will get his absurd military parade – thanks to the Republicans who indulge his egomania. In the Trump presidency, some controversies are appalling, some are terrifying, and some are just plain stupid… This one falls into the stupid category.

“Donald Trump’s military parade is shaping up to cost $80 million more than initially estimated… I realize that Donald Trump is a ridiculous narcissist, but what’s so exasperating about this parade is that it isn’t just Trump being Trump on his own. It requires taxpayers to shell out $92 million… it requires the time, attention, and energy of the armed forces.”

Senator John N. Kennedy (R) said, “I don’t think it’s a particularly good idea. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud. When you’re the most powerful nation in all of human history, you don’t have to show it off.”

Now whether it’s a parade in Pasadena, Boston, or Washington, D.C. there are always proponents and opponents. I for one went to only one of my five graduations under duress. But whether it’s botany, academic achievement, or military power that brings people together for a parade, the common feature is the celebration of accomplishment. It’s a delight that’s derived from celebrating the fruits of your labor.

When we come to Nehemiah 12 this week we find a celebration that exacts a huge price from all those involved. It’s a celebratory dedication that extends far beyond any human accomplishment. What we have here is the dedication of the city to God Himself. This is the culmination of years of prayer and diligence. While many Bibles designate Nehemiah 12:27 ff as a description of the dedication of the wall, it’s much more than that! It’s the dedication of the people of God to Him. Simply put, it’s a profound expression of true worship – the dedication of God’s people to God Himself. And like any true dedication it exacts a price.

We are going to dig into all of this on Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, in a message entitled, “Delightful Dedication.” In preparation for the message you may wish to consider the following:

1. When does this dedication celebration occur?
2. Why the delay?
3. How do chapters 7 through 11 inform us of the nature of this dedication?
4. Chapter 12:31 marks the first time Nehemiah refers to himself since 7:5. What does that say about Nehemiah? How does he differ from Solomon in I Kings 7 & 8?
5. Why are many of the Levites not living within the walls of Jerusalem at this time? (See verse 27).
6. Why assemble singers, musicians, etc.?
7. What sacrifices do the people of Israel bear in this dedication celebration?
8. Who is the focus of their celebration?
9. Why does Nehemiah send the choirs in two opposite directions on the wall? (See verses 31 & 38).
10. What do you make of this witness in verse 43?

See you Sunday as we celebrate together at the Lord’s Table Jesus’ perfect sacrifice in coming to this world and going to the cross.