By Jeremy Writebol
If you’ve ever lost something precious only to find it once again, you know the feeling of joy that can overcome you at its rediscovery. Every time I return back to the home I left in the San Francisco Bay area, I find myself both laughing and crying—and both seem fit emotions for those moments.
This is especially true if I go to a ballgame at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. There is euphoria at the smell of the ballpark-favorite garlic fries. There are tears at hearing a crowd of 40,000 sing Journey’s “Lights” in the eighth inning. There is elation at Buster Posey knocking a game-winning home run. All of these sights, smells, and sounds are precious to me, and yet I get to experience them far too infrequently these days.
I imagine the people of Israel were met with many conflicting emotions as they made their way home to Jerusalem. They had returned to rebuild the walls of their city and the temple within those walls, but there was something else that needed to be rebuilt: their spiritual life. In order for God’s people to reestablish their identity of faith, they needed to be reminded of the central truth of what made them unique among all nations.
It wasn’t a temple (other nations had those). It wasn’t a powerful city (Babylon could have sufficed). It wasn’t even a strong leader (Alexander the Great was coming). What made Israel unique among all the nations was that God had spoken directly to them and given them His Word. For too long that Word had been neglected, but on this day, Israel reestablished among themselves the chief importance of God’s Word for all of life.
However, hearing the book of the law read to them was not met without conflicting emotion. “For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9). But convicted as they were, that day was not one for mourning and weeping; it was a holy day to the Lord. It was a day of returning to the city, yes, but it was also a day of God’s people turning their hearts back toward Him in repentance. And so Ezra and Nehemiah instructed them: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the LORD is your strength” (v.10).
In everything that occurs in Nehemiah 8, we are forced to think about the place of God’s Word within our own lives. Too often we neglect, forget, or flat-out ignore the fact that God Himself has spoken to us and for us. Instead of listening to the Word preached, examining the Word in community, and applying the Word personally, we make the Bible less than a priority in our lives. Because of that, we often find our lives in ruins and wreckage, when in reality, we have God’s inspired Word to lead us in every day and in all ways (2 Timothy 3:16).
Perhaps we need to rediscover God’s Word in a fresh way. Ezra’s preaching, as well as Israel’s commitment to once again read, listen, and understand Scripture, allowed for spiritual renewal among them. When we turn to Scripture we will find that same renewal is waiting for us as well.
Written by Jeremy Writebol
Get truth delivered straight to your inbox.
Sign up to receive daily Bible readings every morning.
7 thoughts on "Ezra Read God’s Law to the People"
One thing that jumps out to me is the role of pastors and politicians. Typically in our context there is this division. No room for church and state to connect. Yet here we see Nehemiah (the governor) and leader of the people side by side with Ezra (the pastor) reading God’s Word and praising the Lord for how he rebuilt this city and these people. Obviously Nehemiah was being led by the Lord to do this great work, but often now you just hear of pastors being the ones with vision for spiritual growth. In this case the church and state are in some ways one. A people coming together for the glory of the Lord. It would be nice to see more of that today. Too often now we see political leaders only using faith and the church to promote their agenda or get elected. Lord, give us more godly leaders who will do what is right in your sight – not for their gain, but for our good and your glory.
My family and I are in serious need of renewal. I think we need to grab our Bibles, go camping (in a sense) and invite the Holy Spirit as our leader, teacher and guide.
Lord Jesus, help me to celebrate your word and love your law like the people of Israel did this day.
Day 11: The word of God is so powerful! I get this crying thing every now and then when at church or reading the word as something hits home. I can’t imagine what it was like for all of the people to be listening and be weeping because of the radically different way that God wanted them to live. They were about to give up so much more than they thought being home, but God was worth it. There’s power in his word and we should let it rock us to pieces.
It’s interesting that the people would respond with morning in grief but yet Ezra and Nehemiah and the Lord will instruct them to be filled with joy for this day was set apart to be holy. It’s encouraging that the Lord respects our morning but when he has rebuilt something in our lives and called us to celebrate it, he does not want us to mourn but rather to be filled with joy. What I find the most interesting from the story, is the fact that the people of Israel would live in temporary houses during the seven month each year as part of their celebration and remembrance.
I’ve had moments like this in my life where I feel as though I’m coming back to something deeper that I’ve missed out on in the past seasons. How sweet it is to rediscover the Lord through his word!
What makes my life different is that I am God’s child. I may have talents and abilities that others have in varying degrees, but what gives success is that I have God and His Word—He is my success.
Post Comments (7)