Nehemiah 8:1-3 (NLT)
All the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey. So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.
When you read this passage, can you picture the people gathering? Can you hear them crying out for God’s word? Do you hear the same cry in your own heart? In the book of Nehemiah, a people who had no hope nor security rallied together to build their city’s protection. They even at certain times used one hand to build the wall and the other to hold a weapon against enemies trying to attack the city. (Nehemiah 4:17) Instead of trusting in the security of the wall they chose to trust in the security of the word. That’s where we find them calling, “Bring out the book!” In Nehemiah 8:1 we see that the whole city gathered as if they were one man and asked Ezra the prophet to bring out God’s word. “They are hungry to hear God speaking to them in the way that they will know for sure it is his voice that they are hearing,” says Nancy Guthrie on this passage. Can you imagine neighbors calling out to each to come hear the word of the Lord? It is as if we can hear the city crying,
Around 50,000 people gather in the the middle of Jerusalem to hear God’s word. Together they read and obeyed the scriptures. Because we are living in a time and a country where God’s word is more accessible than ever, it is easy to forget how holy and precious the word of the Lord is to us. The word is holy, meaning set apart. The word of the Lord is unbreakable. After all, the Bible is compiled of 66 different books by 40 different authors, written from three different continents, over the span of 1,500 years in three different languages. And the entire book proclaims one message. The authors range from Kings to uneducated fishermen all proclaiming the good news of the Gospel. The news that God, in His great mercy, would send His Son as a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of people who could never earn their way to be with God–who are eternally apart from God–but He would intervene with a perfectly human perfectly divine sacrifice.
We are quick to find the imperative without the indicative of God’s word.
They read the word and they applied it to their life. Their obedience didn’t make them miserable nor did they comply out of drudgery. Instead in Nehemiah 8:17 we find that there was great rejoicing. They not only read God’s word but they worshiped him through obedience of the word. Saying yes to their good Father caused them to rejoice. All too often, we don’t want to read God’s word because we read it as a to do list. We are quick to find the imperative without the indicative of God’s word. In Psalm 19:7 David cries out that the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving to the soul. Later in verse 10 he goes on to say that the word is to be more desired than gold and sweeter than honey. God’s word revives us! It is a delight to dig deeply and drink the rich, bountiful cup of God’s word!
This obedience and delight in God’s word is not only seen in Nehemiah, but all throughout scripture. Spending time daily reading the scriptures brings life in many ways.
- God’s word helps us fight sin. Psalm 119:11
- Christ is the word. John 1:14
- The word is living, active, and relevant to your life right now. Hebrews 4:12
- God’s word is his very breath. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Lord Jesus, teach us to love your holy and perfect word. Father, your word brings eternal life. It revives the soul. It reveals our purpose. It brings intimacy. Lord, be with my brothers and sisters as they read your word to draw near to you. Grant us the grace to be a people of discipline and faithfulness. Lord, we confess that often we are the man in James 1 when we look at your word and then immediately forget. Father, teach our hearts to cry, "bring out the book." We love you, Father. In Christ name we pray, Amen.