It is critically important to Israel that her priesthood and their functions be maintained. David had divided the priesthood into twelve sections, each taking a turn at serving in the temple. As chapter twelve opens, we are given the list of the leaders of the priesthood (vss. 1-7) when Zerubbabel returned. A generation later, we have another list (vss. 12 – 21). These are not all the priests who served during Nehemiah’s time, but there are some connections. The priests during Nehemiah’s time are listed in 10:2-8. The whole idea of the presentation is that the reader understand records were kept and the proper people where appointed to lead in the worship of God.
Chapter twelve is also when the wall is dedicated. Great pageantry filled the ceremony as half the worshipers, led by Ezra, began to walk one way along the wall. The other half of the worshipers went the other way along the wall. Note that Ezra the priest leads the first group, but Nehemiah, not a priest, but a governor, does not lead the other group. He is preceded by the singers. You get the feeling that he planned this celebration, but he recognizes his place in God’s scheme of things. He may have the power to enforce the spiritual demeanor of Israel, but he is not the spiritual leader.
Think seriously about this great occasion. It required substantial practice and planning. It wasn’t done “off the cuff.” Just because something is to be heart-felt doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done with forethought and planning. From public prayer to scripture reading to preaching to singing to presiding at the Lord’s Supper, these are all important occasions in worship. They should not be done without careful consideration to what is being said and done, and who is doing the leading.