Aside from the Psalms, we have read through the big picture of the Old Testament. Way to go! Our hope is that you have benefited from major moments in the story of the Old Testament. This week had several interesting texts, including some looking forward to the coming of the Lord, some confronting the people with their rejection of God, and some about the restoration of Jerusalem. Today, I would like to focus on the significant moment when Ezra reads the Law to the returned people.
s – scripture: nehemiah 8:2-3
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
o – observation
The Jerusalem wall has been rebuilt amidst opposition, and a great number of people have returned to Jerusalem. The people have gathered, and they hear Ezra read from the Law of Moses. They are hearing the foundational story and instruction for the people of Israel. This was an intentional, planned time (v.4 they had built a platform for the occasion) and it was holy moment (v.9,11). They were to receive it with joy.
This is because the people are encountering the Lord in this moment. What Ezra is reading is not merely abstract instruction. He is reading the Book of the Covenant, the formal relationship God has with Israel. This describes how the people are to relate to God and how they are to live with Him. In hearing the Law read, they are engaging with God Himself. Notice that when Ezra opens the Law, the people worship God (v.5-6).
What I love most is what happens next: they do something! In verse 13 and following, they hear about the Festival of Tabernacles, which hasn’t been celebrated in a long time, and they do it. They practice the festival again. They encounter God and hear what He has to say. And hearing what God says leads to response and change.
a – application
Hearing what God says leads to response and change. That’s why we come each Sunday into worship, hear from the Scriptures, and have them expounded. That’s why we want to spend time on our own digesting the Bible. That’s why we gather in groups to spur one another on in the Word, helping each other respond to it. We are to be doers of the Word (James 1:22-25). Because we encounter God Himself in the Scripture, hearing what He says leads to response and change.
Let’s commit to hearing from Him and then responding to Him and experience change.
p – prayer
Lord, we praise you and worship you! You have restored relationship with us by the blood of Jesus, and you have given us your Word so that we may live in the way that is best. Thank you for the gift that the Word is. Lord, stir us to respond and change every time we hear it or read it. Help us love You and others better each time we encounter You in your Word. May we respond and change every time we hear what You say. In the Name of Jesus, Amen!