Holy Boldness

Nehemiah 12:27-43

Everyone loves a celebration, especially at a time when things are hard and there’s not a lot to celebrate about. Much about life in Jerusalem that was difficult – city not fully restored, homes not all repaired and livable, new place with new challenges for many residents. Don’t forget, surrounded by enemies – personal, cultural, and religious. Completion of repairs on the wall did not mean Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem left the country.

Looking outward, beyond the wall of the city and the surrounding villages, great cause for uncertainty. This was where God had promised to do great things – sending a King to deliver his people. In that respect, view from the wall not very promising. Yet even in the midst of hardship and in spite of a potentially bleak forecast for the immediate future, God’s people were determined to celebrate.

>Their purpose – express joy and gladness and thanksgiving with all sorts of accompanying noise. No one was left out, no effort was spared, you could say “they pulled out all the stops” on that day of celebration. And what better reason for celebrating? The city to be dedicated once again to honor and service of God.

>Their need – holy boldness. Not just any kind of boldness. Not the kind that comes from following the crowd. Not the bold excitement of the moment. Not boldness that is self-induced or self-seeking. Holy boldness – boldness that has a holy source and holy purpose. Boldness that

A. accompanies celebration v.27-29

when it is the work of God being honored

God’s people offering praise and thanksgiving for what he had accomplished through them

visible signs of God’s promise to restore his people from their exile

God had stirred the hearts of pagan kings to do his bidding – Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes

they were in the land, temple and daily ceremonies restored, Jerusalem a legitimate city again

God had caused the plans of his enemies (the three cronies, etc.) to fail

when God’s people work in concert

the leaders: Ezra and Nehemiah, along with princes of Judah

the priests and Levites

the temple choir – all the ranks, since they served in rotation at the temple – and the marching band with cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets

the people

excitement and accompanying boldness increasing as the gathered body swells in size, encouraging one another and being encouraged as they experienced the work of God in progress

it would indeed be a concert of praise and thanksgiving to God for his wondrous works and provision

B. dedicating the entire city v.30

4 specific areas of life to be purified and dedicated:

religious – priests and Levites

to be pure worship directed by pure leaders

fit to be servants to God and examples to the people

personal – the people

God has given us a spiritual vocation — a Divine calling in Jesus Christ, and we are to walk worthy of that vocation, here — doing all worldly things in a spiritual manner, preparatory to a higher calling which shall come one day, when we shall enter upon other forms of duty and service. Binney

civil – the gates

traditionally the location of civil and family court – where disputes were settled, legal decisions made

civil affairs of city to be conducted in manner consistent with biblical principles

place where justice would prevail, where right would be done

communal – the wall

the city in its entirety, not just individual elements, dedicated to service of God

homes, businesses, neighborhood, street corners, civic organizations all to be God-focused

C. in view of the world v.31-39

here’s where the greatest holy boldness was/is required

not done by a few people in a corner

not even done by a lot who came a few at a time to a large auditorium

the whole city with help from outside done in plain view

“up on the wall”

two large choirs leading the way, one to go around the wall in each direction

each followed by half the leaders, trumpets, marching band, half the people

giving testimony to work of God in plain sight of their enemies

uncertain of outcome and potential fallout

might be viewed as first act of rebellion, moving toward independence from Persia

could serve as cause for attack or attempted isolation by their enemies

mindset of Jewish people not to be concerned with maybes but to celebrate the definites

requires great boldness to speak and act when you’re pretty sure the message will not be well received

just as true today in our culture – what we have to celebrate, message we have to proclaim will not have a friendly reception from the world

will tend to spawn opposition and isolation, perhaps even unjust attempts to silence

to be honoring to God our boldness must be

D. sourced in God v.40-43

it was God who made them rejoice, who gave them cause for joy

God had done the great things they couldn’t

changing the hearts of kings

changing their hearts

enabling them to see God’s hand at work

giving them a desire to honor him – their enemies had seen the same things, different results and attitudes

God had provided boldness

right source – God, not self

right object of celebration – God’s mighty works, not their own

right motives – God’s glory, not their own

Nearly 500 years later – Peter and John imprisoned, threatened, finally released and told not to open their mouths about Jesus. Their response:

Acts 4:29-31 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

That’s the kind of holy boldness we need today – to speak the word of God publicly, confidently, and persuasively that others will hear of our Redeemer and his love for us. Will you along with the hymnwriter make that commitment? God giving you that holy boldness, to sing (or if you can’t carry a tune) to speak often and confidently about God and his mighty works?

 

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