I hope you've had your Bible open to Nehemiah this week, specifically chapters 8-10. I'll be dealing with this text Sunday and you've likely enjoyed some good time in this section in your Fellowship Groups.
It's a large amount of Scripture, but it's important we look at it as one event. Chapters 9 and 10 are caused by Chapter 8. If we forget that, there's a risk we could draw terrible conclusions and life application from Chapters 9 and 10.
As you're reading in Chapter 8, notice that they desired to listen to the word and had Ezra read it from morning until mid-day. Be sure to see their response. They stood in honor and respect of God's Word. They lifted if their hands and said "Amen, Amen." And then they bowed their heads and worshiped.
Notice that while Ezra read the Word, there were teachers with smaller groups helping them the people make sense of what they were hearing, "so that the people understood the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8).
On the next day a group of priests, and levites another with the the heads of fathers' houses of all the people "came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law" (Nehemiah 8:13). As they studied, the learned of a custom they seem to have neglected and forgotten while they were in captivity. So they began to follow the Word again.
In Chapter 9, they gather again and hear from the Word. Together they make a great confession. It starts with a statement of all God had done as well as the numerous ways their ancestors had sinned against God. And they confessed their own sin. They prayed for forgiveness as well as guidance for their leaders.
Following their confession, they make a covenant to "walk in God's Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his rules and his statutes" (Nehemiah 10:29).
What caused this worship? What caused the praises? And the confession? And the covenant? What was it that rebuilt the people's physical and spiritual allegiance to God?
It was God's Word.
As we see in Nehemiah's day, they needed a strong reorientation to live as God's people, faithfully by his Word. They were committed to hearing from the Lord and doing what he says. I believe this should be a regular activity of our church and personal lives.
This week, we'll be discussing how we must turn to God's Word and remain faithful to it. See you Sunday!