‘RETURN TO THE WORD!’
Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Nehemiah 8 : 1-18
“…and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” -Nehemiah 8:3
The reading, hearing and understanding of the Law of the Lord brought great impact in the life of a nation that was being restored after exile. Having lost their identity, their independence and the very exclusive title as “God’s people” the Israelites were sent to a 70-year captivity into Babylon due to their disobedience to the word of the Living God. As God had already forewarned them that they would be blessed if they obeyed Him and punished if they disobeyed Him when the Law was handed down to Moses, but they failed to honor God which led them to be driven away from their homeland.
Today’s reading focuses on the third return of the Israelites from Babylon under the leadership of Nehemiah. They are back to a homeland ravaged by war and spiritual depravity. As they began to rebuild the nation, they knew that only if they all (Vs. 2,13) returned to the Word of God will they see the blessings of God in their lives.
That’s what the people did when Ezra the Priest read from God’s Word:
Showed Reverence – (V.5) reads “that all the people stood up when Ezra opened the book.” This posture shows submission and total surrender to what was being read—An outward expression of an inward conviction. But showing reverence to God and godly things has taken a back seat in this generation. How many of our children take time daily to kneel and pray? Be it standing up before God’s word or kneeling down in prayer- both need be done out of a deep reverence for God that will lead to a life of obedience to Him.
Had Repentance – The writer to Hebrews in 4:12 calls the word of God as living and active, a double-edged sword that divides and weighs every thought and intent of man’s heart. Verse 9 reads “that when the people heard the words of the law they wept.” God’s Word convicted them of their sinful lifestyles. Everything they did were in stark contrast to God’s word and all they could do was weep over their sin.
When we are confronted with our sin we could react in 2 ways:
When Prophet Samuel confronted Saul of his disobedience to God’s instruction over the Amalekite war, all that Saul did was to defend himself. That’s when Samuel uttered these memorable words “to obey is better than sacrifice!” (1 Sam 15:22) His disobedience cost him his throne.
Years later the king David was confronted by Prophet Nathan over his sin that was grievous. But his reaction was different, he cried out to God and fasted and grieved over his sin. This led to him receiving God’s forgiveness.
When was the last time that you humbled before God’s word and repented over your sin? 2 Corinthians 7:10 says “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” May we heed the voice of the Lord and align our lives to His word that it would bring in a blessing to our lives.
3. Rejoiced in God - We see in the story of the Lost Son (Luke 15), when he returned home with repentance there was much rejoicing and feasting. Here Nehemiah encourages the people to sorrow no more over their past failures but to rejoice in the ability of a God who is able to make all things new! He exhorts them to not only enjoy this gift of salvation for themselves but to go and share it to others who did not have the opportunity to hear this truth (V.10).
May we continue to revel in this thought that God in and through Christ Jesus delights over us and finds joy even in us.
Quote for the Day: “We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” ~John Stott
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