Nehemiah 12:1
Now these are the priests and Levites who went up with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
A BookJ. Parker, D. D.Nehemiah 12:1-28
BooksNehemiah 12:1-28
Joy of JerusalemR.A. Redford Nehemiah 12:1-47
Ministers of the LordW. Clarkson. Nehemiah 12:1-26, 44-47
Twenty-six verses of this chapter are given to the record of the names of priests and Levites. That fact itself is suggestive. It is indicative of the high place which the ministers of God held in the national estimation. We meet in these chronicles with the names of few men of comparative wealth, or rank, or soldierly ability; but the names of the ministers of religion are recorded, and are thus immortalised. Concerning these we may learn -

I. THEIR RELATIVE VALUE IN THE STATE. "Judah rejoiced in the priests and Levites that waited"- stood at their posts (ver. 44). The worth of the "non-productive classes" of the community, however high their social position, has been said to be less than that of the man who "makes two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before." But the worth of this last is surely less by far than that of him who makes a true thought to live and grow in the mind where one false fancy throve before, who plants right principles in the soul, who is the means of cultivating fruits of righteousness in the hearts and lives of men. A number of men scattered all over the land who live to circulate that sacred truth which leads men into and along the way of wisdom, and to draw the hearts of men into fellowship with a holy God, must be dying a work of truest patriotism, second to none that can be mentioned. Well might "Judah rejoice in the priests and Levites that stood at their posts" (or that waited), and treasure their names in her archives. Well may England rejoice in her ministers of Christ who stand at their posts and do the work he has placed in their hands.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF THEIR APPOINTMENT (ver. 10). We are naturally struck with the expression (ver. 10), "And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib," etc. It brings before us - as indeed all these family names do - the hereditary principle adopted by God in the appointment of his ministers. The priestly and the Levitical office went from father to son. In that age, and under the system of religion appointed of God, there can be no doubt that this was the best possible principle. We have sad and striking instances, indeed, of its failure to secure purity and integrity. The cases of Eli and Samuel, whose sons "walked not in their fathers' ways," immediately suggest themselves. Yet there was an unquestionable spiritual force in this family arrangement. The sons and grandsons who looked back to their fathers, to their ancestors, as men that stood before God in his near presence, as men that taught Israel the sustaining, reviving, saving truths of religion, would gain a powerful incentive from the thought; and as they looked forward to their sons and their grandsons, to a remote posterity discharging the same sacred offices, a holy anticipation would join with a holy pride to keep them loyal to their faith and to their functions. With the Christian ministry the hereditary principle is in the background; it is a secondary, not primary, consideration. The first thing is fitness for the work, and the conviction that a man is personally called thereto by God's own Spirit. "Aptness to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2) and to serve in the various offices of the ministry of Christ, with that earnest desire to "do good and to communicate" which argues a heaven-born inspiration, must be the decisive thing. Nevertheless, there is room for the influence of the family principle here. Many of the very best ministers of Christ are sons and grandsons of those who thus served their God and their generation before them; and these have been worthier and abler servants of their age because they have drawn inspiration from their fathers' lives and labours. In this our time there is much of holy influence and power to gain from those who have gone before us, and much to give to those who shall come after us. We should aim to

(1) be worthy of our ancestors, and to

(2) supply an incentive and example to our posterity.

III. THEIR RECOMPENSE (vers. 44-47). So much did "Judah rejoice for (in) her priests and Levites" (ver. 44), that men had to be appointed "over the chambers for the treasures," first-fruits, tithes, and free-will offerings which the people freely brought to them. All those who held any sacred office - including those of the Levites who were singers and porters, and "who kept the ward," i.e. did their work (ver. 45) - received their recompense, and the people "sanctified" (set apart) "holy things" (their offerings to the Lord) to the Levites, and these gave their tenth to the "children of Aaron" (ver. 47). The Christian minister has his recompense, which is threefold.

1. It is present and temporal. "Sowing spiritual things, he expects to "reap carnal things" (1 Corinthians 9:11). He that is "taught in the word is to communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Galatians 6:6).

2. It is present and spiritual. In the approval of Christ his observant Lord; in the gratitude and affection of those whom he serves; in the excellency and success of his work - intrinsically the highest and best of all works; and in the opportunities it provides for his own spiritual culture.

3. It is future. The smile of the Master in the day when "every man has praise of God;" the greeting again of those rescued and strengthened on earth; the "rule over many cities" to be enjoyed by those who wisely employ their talents here. - C.

Were written in the book of the chronicles.
I. A BOOK UNITES THE AGES. Brings the past into the present; borrows the future to give the present significance. The "sceptred spirits of history" rule us still. With books the poorest enters the highest society: the loneliest need not be solitary.

II. A BOOK REVEALS LIFE'S IMPORTANCE. It gives permanence to thought. Life is a writing.

III. A BOOK SILENTLY ANTICIPATES THE JUDGMENT. A record may be appealed to: "Is this thy handwriting?" God's "Book of Remembrance."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

"The commerce of books," says our gossiping Montaigne "has the constancy and facility of its service for its own share: it goes side by side with me in my whole course, and everywhere is assisting to me: it comforts me in my age and solitude; it cases me of a troublesome weight of idleness, and delivers me at all times from a company that I dislike: and it blunts the point of griefs, if they are not extreme, and have not got an entire possession of my soul...books do not mutiny to see that I have only recourse to them for want of other more real, natural, and lively conveniences; they always receive me with the same kindness."

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