The Bible is God’s unchanging message for all people.
Contemplating and performing are two opposite paths of decision. Many people spend forever thinking about what needs to be done in life.
The Spirit will never bring us to contemplation without providing the power to perform.
When we spend a lifetime in contemplation, we live an eternity in regret of not performing.
There has never been a single soul saved by a mans contemplation. What-if will always be what-if.
Ezra the scribe and priest, was appointed governor of the Jews in Judah by the king of Persia in 457 BC. Nehemiah succeeded him as governor in 444 BC. This lesson reveals that Nehemiah and Ezra worked closely with each other to bring the post-captivity Jews in Judah into obedience to the Holy Scriptures, which by that time, consisted essentially of the Old Testament we have today. Of these, It is believed Ezra wrote the Chronicles, and the book called Ezra and Nehemiah. Preserving, compiling, and writing Holy Scripture was one of Ezra’s greatest works.
Questions: How often do you think a Christian should read their Bible, and why?
How often do you think a Christian should hear the Bible preached or taught?
HEARING AND RECEIVING GOD’S WORD
A. Hearing the Word of God
Nehemiah 8:1 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.
…….Just as Judah, when Christians have a relationship with God, they desire righteousness. Holy living should never be a grudge for the Saint!
When there is a hunger for the Word, coming to church will never be a hassle, but an anticipation!
Neh 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
Neh 8:3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
Neh 8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
Neh 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
…….Maybe that’s where the tradition started.
Neh 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. 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.
…….The people of Judah cherished the word in such a way that they wouldn’t be distracted from it. When it was time for the Word to be read publicly, they were ready to receive its instruction and worshipped.
Unlike the post-Captivity Jews, each of us can have our own copy of the Bible. However, many Christians rarely read the Bible. What are your thoughts about why Christians do or do not read the Bible?
B. Understanding God’s Word
Nehemiah 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
Neh 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
……..This shows that there has always been a need for learning the Bible through exact interpretation and seeking counsel of teachers. It was thoroughly important then and should be today. The Bible is literal and while not everyone can comprehend ever verse, we must never take it out of context nor mistake its logical precedence. Simply stating, the Bible makes absolute sense!
Neh 8:9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha (governor), and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
…….Weeping at times during a service can mean many things, but at this moment it was a sign of deep conviction and guilty sorrow. What a thought, that by simply reading the law of God alone can bring people under conviction and repentance of heart.
Neh 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send 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.
…….The only way for our sorrow to be turned into joy is to surrender it to God.
2Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
FEASTING AND FASTING
A. Consecration and Rejoicing
Nehemiah 8:11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
Neh 8:12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
…….Confusion is not of God and it is sad to say, but many times we leave people very confused. When we don’t understand His Word and claim to live by it, and when our actions speak differently, the first person confused is the one described. The second person confused is the one who is looking for truth but coincidentally look to the one sending false signals. Nobody wants our misery! People are looking for joy and peace! Make that be the mark we leave with others!
B. Discovery and Obedience
Nehemiah 8:13 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.
Neh 8:14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
The booths (tabernacles) the people dwelt in during this festival were small, temporary dwellings made from the branches of trees. This was a particular festival commanded by Moses that the people wanted to observe.
Neh 8:15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
Neh 8:16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
Neh 8:17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
Neh 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly (congregational fast), according unto the manner.
…….The closer Judah got to God, the more they wanted to observe his statutes. Drawing closer comes from seeking. The more we seek, the more we find and the more we understand!
Neh 9:1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.
Neh 9:2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
Neh 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
…….Learning God’s observances are not always easy, nor are they always something of desire at first. But when we put in the work and learn to observe and obey, the reward is greater than anything the flesh could ever acquire.
While the observation of Holy Days is not commanded any more according to Colossians 2:16 (Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:) we are required to seek the Lord on a daily basis.
As the feasts were somewhat of a seasonal observance, there is no such thing as a seasonal relationship with Jesus Christ!
RETURNING TO THE COVENANT
A. Confession and Covenant Making
Nehemiah 9:32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.
Neh 9:33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly:
Neh 9:34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them.
…….Nehemiah in his prayer confessed that though Judah was living in their God Given land, things were not going well for Judah. They were being highly taxed by the Persian Kong’s, even the ones who had favored them.
Neh 9:35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.
…….Nehemiah confessed the reason and responsibility of the punishment was entirely because of the way they were living. They committed from here on out that they would observe and worship the one and only true God!
Neh 9:36 Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it:
Neh 9:37 And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.
Neh 9:38 And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.
…….When we find ourselves in distress, the first thing we must do is humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to reveal what is wrong, where am I coming short? When he allows us to see the setback, it is our duty to cast it away and make commitment to God.
God is a forgiving, loving and merciful God. We can never let our failures dictate our future.
When you fall short, get up and repent. Ask the Lord to forgive and help you rid yourself of everything that is in the way of relationship!
B. Rejection Sin for Righteousness
Nehemiah 10:28 And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;
Neh 10:29 They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;
Neh 10:38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
Neh 10:39 For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
…….Judah knew that in order to have this true relationship with the Lord, they must live to the standards of God. There is a method to live a holy life and that method is communicating with the Lord in everything we do.
Though we are in this flesh, we do not serve this flesh.
We have to make the decision, do I want to live for Christ, or do I want to serve sin.
Do I want freedom from the curse and destruction of this flesh, continually bowing down to its desires. Or do I want to live in freedom from being so pulled down by this flesh!
There is power in salvation!