Sheep & Gates & Other Tools For Worship

Dear Friends,

This morning my Bible reading was in the book of Nehemiah. It’s a book I’ve read several times, and have actually preached on in the past. So I have to admit that I began reading it with an attitude that was more “duty” than “discovery”, because (again, in all honesty) I didn’t think I would learn anything new. Fortunately, God was willing to overlook my foolish pride, and prove me wrong.

If you’ve not read Nehemiah before, it tells the story of the Israelites rebuilding Jerusalem after returning from their exile in Babylon. The wall around Jerusalem was the first project for the people, because it was the first line of defense against their enemies. But in Nehemiah 3, we read a very interesting fact about how that rebuilding began. Listen to Nehemiah 3:1, which tells us: “Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel.”

The very first part of the wall to be rebuilt was the Sheep Gate. Now, if you’re like me, you might question the choice to make this the top priority, because after all, it was a gate for sheep. My priority would probably have been a section of the wall more directly related to protecting me, and the other folks living in the city. But the people of Israel had their priorities straight, because the Sheep Gate was fundamental to their worship of God because it was the gate where the sheep were lead through to be sacrificed at the temple. In other words, without it, they could not fully worship God.

Fortunately, we are no longer called to offer up animals as sacrifices for worship. However, we are called to offer our lives instead. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in Romans 12:1, where he writes: “Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” It doesn’t get any more clear than that - if we want to truly worship God, then just like the Israelites, we must make our sacrifice to Him our top priority.

So today, let’s get serious about making sure we can fully worship God. Let’s surrender our lives fully to Him - asking Him to take our hearts and minds and wills and use them for His purposes, and His glory.

Amen?

Daniel

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