Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 8.2-3, 12
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.
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Reflection: Read, Rejoice, and Feast
By John Tillman
The day-long worship program described by Nehemiah fits the mechanics of modern worship gatherings. The spiritual leader, Ezra, stands high on a platform with the scriptures. The scriptures are read out loud. Levites and others “make it clear” so people could “understand what was being read.”
What is unfamiliar is the effect it has. This was not an emotionless day of informational, academic, scholarly dictation. It was inspirational and correctional. It was uplifting and convicting. Nehemiah has to remind them to celebrate! They should eat good food! They should rejoice!
This passage is one of the sweetest passages about God’s word in the scriptures. The purpose of studying scripture is to stir the heart. The purpose of explaining scripture is to motivate joy and celebration.
I get chills thinking about the changes that could happen in my life if I loved God’s word and responded to it as these people did. What if everyone in my church did? What if everyone in my city did? What if everyone who read The Park Forum did?
If you are a part of our community at The Park Forum, one of our email subscribers, this passage expresses much that we hope would echo in your heart and life. We want to be a community that loves God’s word—loves studying it and explaining it to each other. We pray that it leads to rejoicing and celebrating.
I hope that post-Christmas, you are basking in the glow of celebrating, rejoicing, and eating good food. I also pray that you will catch the passion for God’s word that Nehemiah records. Make a commitment now, before the end of the year, to engage the scriptures with us, studiously and emotionally each day. Read, rejoice, and feast on the scriptures with us.
And bring someone with you! Nehemiah says, “men, women, and others who could understand,” so none should be excluded from our assembly as we read the scriptures together. Ask a friend to subscribe and walk with you in 2023. (Share this link.)
Through the scriptures, we come to know God. Knowing the height and breadth and depth of God and his love for us (Ephesians 3.18-19) through scripture is a reason to weep with joy and act with love throughout the year. I pray your lives would be altered and strengthened by the scripture and that the society around you would never be the same.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. — Psalm 146.1
Nehemiah 8 (Listen 4:07)
Revelation 17 (Listen 3:19)
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