One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, August, 17, 2013: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31
Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. Nehemiah 12:27 (NKJV)
So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate. Nehemiah 12:31 (NKJV)
38 The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, above the Old Gate, above the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped by the Gate of the Prison. Nehemiah 12:38-39 (NKJV)
There is an age-old question surrounding the ministry of the church. Should we focus on taking care of the sheep we've got, or spend our time reaching people outside the church? I have heard it a hundred times: how can we take care of new people if we're not taking care of what we've got? Within any church there is a host of hurting people. The needs can be immense. We also live in a world full of people facing an eternity without God.
This is the dilemma between CLEANSING and COMMISSION -- between HEALING and HARVEST.
Two choirs were assembled to celebrate the completion of the wall around Jerusalem. These two choirs represent two dimensions of ministry that must be balanced. One choir walked the wall in the direction of the Refuse Gate (also called the Dung Gate). This choir represents CLEANSING. The Refuse Gate was exactly what it sounds like. It was the portal for the removal of waste.
A little further along this path is the Fountain Gate and the Water Gate (Neh. 12:37). I am reminded of the description of Jesus' ministry to the church in Eph. 5:25-26 where it says that Jesus "loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water of the word."
Jesus heals the messed up hurts of His people! Honestly, this can be overwhelming because practically every person you meet has some sort of ISSUE. Satan has worked overtime to plant all kinds of pollution and garbage in the lives of some really good people.
Now here's a key point: it is not enough to say to someone, "Just get over it!" In our impatience with hurting people, we can minimize their challenges and leave them wallowing in pain while we try to rally them for advance.
We need CLEANSING! But, then there is another choir....
The other choir traveled toward the Ephraim Gate that opened toward the rest of Israel (and the world). That choir speaks to us of COMMISSION. Along this path we find the Fish Gate, the Sheep Gate, and we end up at the Prison Gate (Neh. 12:39).
This choir celebrated the HARVEST. Jesus said to His disciples, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mk. 1:17) It is incredibly exciting to see the Lord bring in the harvest. He has many lost sheep that need to be found and brought into the fold.
Evangelism is, for many Christians, a dirty word. It speaks of rudeness and arrogance. But the true harvest is not that way.
This choir celebrated the introduction of many from Ephraim (the world) into the pleasures of a life in Jesus.
There should be NO dilemma between cleansing and commission. These two choirs can sing together. Don't let anyone (including the devil) tell you that you are not fit to lead people Jesus. Stop fixating on your own problems and realize that we the carriers of the greatest news in the world.
Jesus is the answer to both cleansing and commission. He lived it, and so can we.