Reflections on Nehemiah 8
The walls had been built, and the gates were in place. All the people had assembled at the square and had asked Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law and read from it!
They valued the Word of God, and were hungry and thirsty for It.
While sitting around the table in the fellowship area at church, some of our Persian friends asked us to read Romans with them: " We are thirsty for God's Word". Are we thirsty for His Word?
Ezra began by praising the Lord, the great God; the people joined in with their voices (Amen, Amen), lifting their hands, and bowing down with their faces to the ground. It is wonderful to worsh
ip our great God with every part of us; our heart, soul, voice, and our body. Ezra read aloud from early morning till noon; all the people listened closely, attentively.
How closely do we listen when God's Word is read?
The Levites helped the people understand each passage. It takes time and effort, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to understand God's word.
I treasure the times with members of my life groups as we share our insights into God's Word together, growing in our understanding!
God's Word is living and active. ( See 2Timothy 3:16) God's words read by Ezra spoke deeply to the people's hearts. They mourned and wept in response.
One night on holiday with our family in Mauritius, I read Psalm 34 ,verse 7: " The angel of the Lord is a guard, He surrounds and defends all who fear Him". Moments later, 2 masked men entered the house with a knife: despite slight injuries, David was able to push the men out the door. The angel of the Lord was indeed our guard and defense. What an encouraging word God gave me just at the right time!
The people then understood that they should be living in shelters made of branches during the current festival. They obeyed God's word, (see v16) and were filled with joy! The shelters were significant in 3 ways.
Thanksgiving for the past : The people remembered all the way the Lord had led them from Egypt to Canaan , living in shelters , and His care for them. They had just rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem, but their trust was not in the walls, but in their great God. ... Early mornings in Pakistan saw our family on our parents bed, hearing Dad tell Bible stories, remembering all that He had done for us, and giving thanks. Do we remember , and give thanks for all the Lord has done?
The shelters were a powerful tool of witness in the present, a visual aid, to the power of God; at home, with friends, in church and in our marketplace. Just this week I prayed with our Cambodian baker, who has an insurmountable problem, telling her of Jesus who cares and is powerful to change the situation.
The shelters gave confidence for the future, a powerful reminder to the Israelites that they, like us, were a pilgrim people. (see Heb 13:10) Does this effect our perspective on life, our behaviour and our sense of urgency to tell others of Jesus?