Celebrating God

May 15, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, It's All About God, Worship | Leave a comment

         The last few mornings I’ve noticed the amount of joyous celebration, sometimes loud noisy celebration, in Ezra and Nehemiah.  When, after years of exile, the new temple foundation was laid, the people celebrated with trumpets, cymbals and shouts of joy (Ezra 3:10f).  When the temple was completed, after many delays, the people again celebrated with joy.  In this account the word joy is repeated three times (Ezra 6:16ff).  When the people came together and Ezra read the Law of God, they celebrated with choice food and great joy.  It is in this context that we read those great words of Nehemiah, “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10ff).  When the new wall was completed around the city, they again celebrated with two choirs, cymbals, trumpets, harps and other instruments.  In this last celebration, Ezra led the procession of one choir, and the “sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (Nehemiah 12:43).

            I am amused that Ezra, a teacher of the Law, usually thought of as the quiet theological-thinker type, would be involved in so much praise.  In my stereotypical thinking, the studious theological types are not the loud praising-God types.  In my own Christian experience, the churches that tend toward the theological, especially those of us from the Reformed perspective, have the least and quietest praise.  But it shouldn’t be this way.  If we really believed what we say we believe about God, sin and grace, we would be praising God the loudest.  It’s ironic to me that those who seem to praise God the loudest are those who believe they somehow have a part in their salvation!  Certainly Ezra was an “all-about-God” kind of theologian.  For example, he constantly reminds his readers that the good hand of God was on him in all that was accomplished (e.g. Ezra 7:27-28).  Yet for that very reason he leads out in praise – a good lesson for Reformed theologians like me.

As a side note, many believe Ezra wrote 2 Chronicles, and loud praise is recorded throughout that book also.  One instance is found in 2 Chronicles 30.

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