written by Noah Kiser
Nehemiah is a great book. It shows us God at work in and through His people. It shows us what a privilege it is to use who God has made us, how He has gifted us, and what He has given us for the sake of His mission. As we come now to Nehemiah chapter 8, the wall is already complete… but the story is far from over. Our passage today gives us a glimpse into who we are as the people of God… we are loved children to whom our Father has lovingly spoken through His Word. Nehemiah 8 helps us remember this beautiful and defining characteristic of being one of God’s kids… we are a family/people of the Book!
Today, I want to extend three challenges to you – praying that the Spirit will use Nehemiah 8 to draw each of us deeper into relationship with Jesus by drawing us again and again into His Word.
Challenge #1 – Pray for your heart to desire to hear from God
Nehemiah 8:1 – All the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.
The people of God came together because they wanted to hear from God. They didn’t wait to be summoned by Nehemiah or Ezra. Instead, THEY sent for Ezra so that they could hear from God though His Word! What a powerful picture of a heart that senses the privilege of being in relationship with God. What a powerful picture of a heart that sees God’s self-revelation for the treasure it is! May we too so love and desire the One who has loved us first, that we come to meet with Him in His Word time and time again!
Challenge #2 – Pray for your heart to be attentive to what God has said
Nehemiah 8:3 – And [Ezra] read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
Like the remnant of Israel, we serve a God who has powerfully served us and shows himself loving and faithful to us. Yet, all too often we read His Word in a detached and disinterested way. Looking here in Nehemiah 8, what a strong exhortation for each of us – “and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book…” Israel knew that what God said matters. Let’s pray that God will work that same conviction in our hearts. We let plenty of voices into our heads (what we watch, what websites we visit, what books/articles/blogs we read, etc), and we allow them to shape what we think and how we act. But the truth is, there is only one voice that must be allowed to shape what we think and how we act… and that is God’s voice found in His Word.
Challenge #3 – Pray for your heart to be impacted by what God has said
Nehemiah 8:8-9,12 – They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep….” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
The people heard from God in His word, and what they heard cut them to the heart. They heard about the holiness of God and they saw their own sinfulness in light of His holiness. And they were tempted to despair, because they forgot about the grace of God. But Nehemiah, Ezra and other leaders reminded them of the good news God is gracious! May we, like our brothers and sisters in Israel so many generations ago, be reminded afresh today of the grace of God for us…
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11
May God’s message of hope that energizes you to serve bring you joy and comfort today, tomorrow, and every day here after!