“A DESIRE TO HEAR GOD’S WORD”
“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.” (Nehemiah 8:1)
The book of Nehemiah is an inspiring book in many ways and there are so many practical truths we can gather from it. If you are familiar with the book of Nehemiah, then you know that Nehemiah was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes of Persia. He had been taken captive by the Persians some years earlier and yet had become very favored by those in the king’s palace and by the king himself. A Jewish brother, Hanani, saw him and told him about the city of Jerusalem being in disarray with the walls and gates being in shambles, the result of earlier conquests, first by the Babylonians and then by the Persians. Nehemiah became extremely upset at this news, so much so that the king noticed that he was sad day after day. Nehemiah told him the problem of his hometown and why he was so full of grief. He asked for and received permission from the king to go home and repair the walls and gates of his beloved Jerusalem. The king so favored Nehemiah that he supplied the majority of the materials for Nehemiah to complete the work.
The wall was repaired on September 25 after fifty-two days of hard work. Within the next week, the gates had been repaired and set up. Then, on October 1, the people gathered together in a solemn assembly, not a festive celebration, just to listen to Ezra the scribe read the book of the law which Moses had written. They gathered early in the morning and stood in their place until midday as the Word was being read. Oh yes, they did this for seven consecutive days.
The practical truths we can gather from this book have had a great impact on the way we conduct ourselves as we come to church to hear the Word of God.
1.They assembled themselves out of desire. “...and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses…” (Nehemiah 8:1).
2.They arranged (built) a pulpit for Ezra to stand on that was elevated above all the people, so they could hear clearly. “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose...” (Nehemiah 8:4).
3.They were attentive unto the Word that Ezra read to them. “...and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:3).
4.They showed allegiance to the Word when they stood at the beginning of the reading. “...and when he opened it, all the people stood up:” (Nehemiah 8:5).
5.They acknowledgedthe Word by their reverence. “…And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
6.They accepted the Word without reservation. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).
7.They were instructed to appreciate the Word with a joyful heart. “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send the portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
So, as you can see clearly, these are timeless, practical truths that should be instilled each and every time we meet for a worship service. Will you do your part? Do you have that desire?Pastor H. Preston Parker