Friday, August 16, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday August 18, 2013
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DEDICATION OF THE WALL
(Celebrating GOD with music)
(Nehemiah 12:27-43)

Music was an important part of everyday life for the ancient Hebrew people, just as it is also, for us living here in the twenty-first century. It was and is a part of family celebrations, such as the homecoming for “the prodigal son” (Luke 15:25), celebrating victories, milestones, weddings, birthdays, etc. Miriam, Moses’ sister, and other women, sang, danced, and celebrated with music when the Israelites were miraculously freed from Egypt by GOD, as is recorded in Exodus 15. And, Moses’ song that is recorded in the same chapter is the earliest recorded song in the bible.
The bible tells us that the Hebrews have been a very musical people throughout their history, and the music history of man dates back to Jubal, who was “the inventor of the harp and the flute” (Genesis 4:21). However, professional musicians do not appear in the bible before King David’s time. David himself served as a “minstrel” (which is by biblical definition, “a player of stringed instruments”-2 Kings 3:15) for King Saul, as he was called by Saul to play a “spirit” out of him with a stringed instrument (1 Samuel 16:16-23).
David was the first to introduce music as a regular part of “sanctuary worship”, and his son Solomon continued that newly found tradition after the first temple was built (2 Samuel 6:5 & 1 Kings 10:12). Music went on to become an important part of service and we later see that the two “reform kings”, Hezekiah, and Josiah, saw to it that music was included in their respective “Reformations” (2 Chronicles 29:25 & 35:15).
The Book of Psalms itself serves as the earliest existing “hymn book”, as these individual poems were highly suitable for singing in the worship of GOD. They represent pure and holy songs that have always been “used only for worship and praise of GOD”. They were originally written for the worship and praise of GOD, and for the most part, have never intentionally been used for any “profane purposes”. They started out in the Church, and today, they remain in the Church. They were “not borrowed from the world”, or “written and produced by worldly people”, nor were they songs that were written for the world, and then, remixed into gospel versions like much of the music that is played in the church today, particularly the predominately African-American Christian Churches.
Also, the writers of these church hymns were not awarded by the world with “Dove Awards, and other such accolades. GOD does not hand out earthy awards to people who praise and worship HIM, only the devil does that. The singers and musicians also were not being worshiped and praised by the people, for their work, but instead, people gave their worship and praise, and honor and glory to GOD, through the music.
Today, the largest producer and distributor of “gospel music” (Sony), is also the largest producer and distributor of “secular music”. And so, the company that Michael Jackson himself, called “the devil” (and he ought to know) is the same company that produces most of the gospel music in the world today. No wonder they all look and sound alike (Mary Mary).
In Nehemiah 12, verses 27-36, Nehemiah had all the Levites who had re-settled in the various towns around Jerusalem, to join in with the other priests who resided in Jerusalem, to participate in the ceremonies to dedicate the rebuilt wall around Jerusalem. They were to first, dedicate themselves, then the people, the gates, and the wall, through a “purification ceremony”, or “ceremonial cleansing” (v.30). They were to also take part in this joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving, and, with the music of their cymbals, lyres, and harps. “The singers”, who had built their own separate villages around Jerusalem (v.29), were all brought together to sing songs of worship and praise on this joyous occasion.
Nehemiah led the leaders of Judah to the top of the wall and organized two large choirs to give thanks in song. One of the choirs proceeded southward along the wall toward the “Dung Gate”, and half the leaders followed that group, including some priests who played trumpets, and those who played other instruments that were prescribed by David during his reign as king.
The second choir went northward along the wall past the “Tower of the Ovens” to the “Broad Wall”, past the “Ephraim Gate” to the “Old City Gate”, past the “Fish Gate”, all the way to the “Guard Gate” where they met up with the first choir and stopped, and Nehemiah and several other leaders followed them (Vs.31-39). The two choirs gave thanks to GOD and then proceeded to the Temple of GOD, where they took their assigned places. Nehemiah and the other leaders did likewise. They all played music and sang together loudly and clearly under the direction of the choir director (Vs.40-42).
Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, because GOD had given the people cause for great joy. All of the women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far, far away (v.43).
The music (psalms) and the singers (v.29) were all set apart for use in worship and praise in GOD’s Temple only. They were not a bunch of “unbelievers” brought out of the world and then paid exorbitant amounts of money to sing one or more of their “profane” songs in the Church (Kanye West, T-pain, etc.). In fact, we learn in the following chapter that such unbelievers were even excluded from such activities altogether, by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:1-12).
It is good to joyfully acknowledge GOD through music and songs, however, the music can’t be used in “the club”, and in GOD’s worship services too (Kirk Franklin), and the people who perform them needs to also be “true believers”, those who’s “lifestyle and behavior” indicates that they are on GOD’s side, not satan’s.
The Apostle John warns of such foolishness as this in his first letter to the Christian Church, 1 John 4:1-3, were he says;

 “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the SPIRIT. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from GOD. For, there are many false prophets in the world. This is the way to find out if they have the SPIRIT of GOD: If a prophet acknowledges that JESUS CHRIST became a human being, that person has the SPIRIT of GOD. If a prophet does not acknowledge JESUS, that person is not from GOD. Such a person has the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard that he is going to come into the world, and he is already here” (NLT).  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
      




                                 
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