Prioritizing Worship

Afton Rorvik | September 10, 2019

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Nehemiah 3

Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.

                                                                                                —Nehemiah 3:1


Let the building project begin!

The exiled people of Jerusalem had returned to their home in waves but still lived in a city in disarray. In The Moody Bible Commentary (p. 654), Bryan O’Neal explains:

“. . . some of these Jewish people had been back in the land for over 90 years as the book of Nehemiah opens (445 BC), explaining his [Nehemiah’s] surprise and lament that the walls and gates of Jerusalem remained in shambles . . .”

Nehemiah determined to rally the people and help them work together to complete a long overdue building project. And where did he start? At the Sheep Gate.

The Sheep Gate served as the gate to bring sheep into Jerusalem and then to the temple for sacrifices.

Interesting choice.

Nehemiah seemed to believe that worship mattered in the rebuilding process. Mattered most, even. And so, the priests led the way. They jumped in and did something they did not do often—building with their hands.

Pastor Tim Keller has an interesting perspective on worship. In an interview with Marshall Shelley at Christianity Today, he said this:

"Worship is grasping a truth about God and then letting that truth strike you in the center of your being. It thrills you, comforts you. That's when the truth has moved from left to right brain-from mind to heart. On the spot, it will change the way you feel. And from that moment on it will change the way you act. The whole brain, the whole person is affected." (,  

May we, like Nehemiah and the priests of his time, make worship a priority—the top priority. And may we let our worship of God affect the center of our being and the way we act within the church and outside the church. 

Organization matters. Delegation matters. Strategy matters. But, as Nehemiah reminds us, worship matters most.


Questions for reflection and discussion: What role does worship play in your life—both corporate and private worship? Why do you think we can get so easily caught up in making a list or planning a strategy, and forget to worship?

Afton Rorvik writes the devotionals this week. She and her husband are members of Wheaton Bible Church, and she is the author of Storm Sisters: Friends through All Seasons.

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