Worship at the Water Gate on October 8!
Perhaps I have experienced something similar to being inside the Water Gate on October 8 (Nehemiah, Chapter 8). I’m going to think about it for a while as I write.
Nehemiah and his team have just completed the wall and now men, women, and children old enough to understand were gathered together with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. “They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey (Neh. 8:1).” I love this chapter of Nehemiah as it seems to play out in slow motion with attention to so many details.
- Ezra stands on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion in view of all the people.
- Mattihiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah are on his right. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam are on his left.
- When the people see Ezra open the book, they all rise to their feet.
- Ezra praises the Lord.
- All the people chant, “Amen! Amen!” as they lift up their hands.
- They then bow down and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground.
- While the people remain in their places with Ezra from early morning till noon, the priests explain the meaning of each passage read.
I am trying to imagine the awe of this worship. I am wondering about the joy factor in Pedaiah and the Temple servants living on the hill of Ophel who repaired the Water Gate (Neh. 3:26) and how they felt about worship being held right there after all their hard work.
I chuckle to myself just a little bit as I realize how things today are so different in our posture for the message. Perhaps in the era of Nehemiah our listening to the Word of God today would have been considered done in galaxy style (In Henderson, NV, we have an opportunity to go to a Galaxy Theater to watch movies in luxury+ style – check it out here).
Regardless of how the amenities have changed or been enhanced, the real beauty of worship is the unified hearts of those who come to worship and the reason we gather together: to worship God. And yes, I can say without question, I have experienced the beauty of such worship in the quietness of my heart one-on-one with God to massive numbers in an auditorium with all the amenities. I never know if everyone in attendance is bowing down in their hearts or understanding each passage read. I am aware from first hand experience for a person to step foot into a worship service for the very first time takes courage and is often catalytic to receiving Jesus and rebuilding not a wall; but instead, a new life in Christ.
My prayer is that each time I open up the Word of God, my mind and my heart stand united in love and obedience whether I’m in a recliner with all the amenities or sitting on a hard bench in Haiti with the sun beating down hard through a half-built wall in a church. But, isn’t it true there are times when the heart wants to lead the mind or the mind wants to lead the heart? It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit we can keep the two united so that our very lives can be a beautiful display of worship to God! For the ultimate Galaxy experience in worship, come with a pure heart and an open mind to participate in worshiping the One True Holy God! Be ready to say Amen! Amen!