There’s a lot of confusion, disappointment, and sometimes downright disrespect felt and expressed by those in church today. But I’m convinced, of course, that God would not have it this way.
After all, He is a God of order, who understands our frustrations, but nevertheless admonishes us to appropriate every ounce of self-control as we confront disagreements within the church. Whether it’s in our own local church, or higher up at the conference, union, or even the general conference level.
Understanding the role of the Levites in the operation of the temple services in Nehemiah’s time (and throughout the Old Testament) gives us an idea of the kind of service God expects from His church leaders today.
These Levites weren’t perfect people. As a matter of fact, it took special recruitment programs to even convince them to return to Jerusalem for its prophetically-determined re-building after the Babylonian captivity. (See Ezra 8:15-20.)
But as you can see, Ezra worked with them and solutions were found. We can see that as well today, if all parties concerned will stay engaged, friendly with each other, and will pray for God’s will to be done. Never lose faith that God is with us, just as He was with those returning exiles. Our trials are no harder to bear than theirs were. Look to Him for solutions.
Final Thoughts (from this week’s “Teacher’s Notes”)
Many have looked at the early Christian church as a model for how we should conduct our Christian services today. But these New Testament practices were highly influenced by worship held in the temple and synagogues for generations before Christ. It’s important to understand the significance of the Old Testament rites and ceremonies in order to have a full appreciation of what worship should include today.
Besides the preaching of the word, it’s important to include prayer, music, and an offering call as a part of our weekly gatherings.
- Prayer to purify and prepare us, (Nehemiah 12:30)
- musical praise to uplift us, and (Nehemiah 12:31)
- the giving of tithes and offerings to thank God and express our desire to be close to Him. (Nehemiah 12:43)
God’s presence can be anywhere two or three are gathered, and our worship structure, however small, should include these features as much as possible (Matthew 18:20).
In addition, we observed this week the important role the Levites played in the total operation of the temple services. Their contributions ranged widely from the offering of music, cleaning the facility, guarding the entrance (gatekeepers), counting and storing the offerings, and more.
This was a reminder of the value of each church leader in God’s church today. Their dedication and services are needed, both at the local church level, and the wider conference and union levels. Church organization exists for a purpose, and we must honor and respect the work done by these appointed servants of God.
This does not mean that church leaders are infallible and above reproach any more than the Levites were, because we are all sinners in need of a Savior. (All the Levites certainly weren’t perfectly behaved saints.)
But it does mean that we should appreciate their efforts and do all we can to support and pray for them, recognizing their important contribution to our church’s operation and its very existence.
“The Teacher’s Notes” by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/