Chapter 8. If I was ever called to write a study of one book or actually one chapter it would be Nehemiah 8. We want revival. We want change. We want the world to live according to the Lord. We want our children to be set apart. There is only one way for that to happen: through the direct Word of God.
1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
Could you imagine? People coming together to say “teach us the scripture”. Teach US the law. Not so we can throw a stone at the world but so that we should learn how WE are supposed to live. This is a HUGE moment. During captivity, the temple was destroyed. The captives still gathered to learn the scriptures by building areas called Synagogues. They were “teaching” centers (proper worship of sacrifice could ONLY be done by a priest at the Temple, so they just used the Synagogues like we use Sunday School). I truly believe that Godly stories were passed down or the message from the prophets were scattered through these Synagogues BUT now we have the Book of the Law! This day will continue the teaching of the Word…(however like everything, by the time Jesus comes, it will be “well the Rabi said…” and less “what the Lord said”. BE very careful in your studies. I know this blog has been maps, genealogies, and timelines (boring)…I don’t make an application or encourage or rebuke because that is the Word’s job! 2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
But that does not mean you don’t inquire or listen to other’s teachings, read a different translation (read what is clear to you), or dig into workbooks and BIble studies….you should!
8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
When the people heard what we call: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy…they wept! Why?? because they learned how far from the scriptures they had become. This is that Christianese word that I had to look up in a dictionary in 2005: SANCTIFICATION. That moment that you see yourself through the lens of the scripture should make you weep! HOWEVER, this is a moment to rejoice: you are changing for His purposes.
“This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
As Ezra continues to read:
14 They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written.
??? “They found”…was this something new to them? Sadly Yes. The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths and Sukkot, is the seventh and last feast that the Lord commanded Israel to observe and one of the three feasts that Jews were to observe each year by going to “appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose”. (By the way it is this week- September 20-27 was Sukkot. How cool is that!!!) The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and at the time the fall harvest had just been completed. It was a time of joyous celebration as the Israelites celebrated God’s continued provision for them in the current harvest and remembered His provision and protection during the 40 years in the wilderness after Egypt.
We look forward to the fulfillment of this feast as Christians in the second coming. We too need to commemorate His Providence in our lives. However, as Ezra was reading it, the people realized they had not been celebrating God’s Providence of providing for them through their 40 years of wandering. (They were given many reminders). OR TEACHING THEIR CHILDREN. (click on them if you want)
It was at the Feast of Tabernacle that Jesus says in John 7:37
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”
9 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God.
2 things here: Reading the Word of God so He shines a light on our sins AND confessing. (By the way, a quarter of a day is 3 hours) So I need to stop looking at the clock in church when he goes late. Reading your Bible and confession is not a “one and done” moment.
Then in 30 verses, we are given a summary of their History. I hung on to every word. I love how as we wrap up the OT, God Summarizes 65 books in 30 scriptures. (we still have Malachi to read). If you skipped chapter 9 click here for the summary.
Next, they commit to living according to God’s ways. (Ummm I say that all the time) In my classroom, this is called a “behavior contract”.
- We will not intermarry
- We will keep the Sabbath and the Sabbatical year
- Support the temple financially
- Give their tithes and firstfruits to God
Finally: the last verse is:
“We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Basically “We have our priorities straight!!”