There’s nothing like a good book. Reading a good book should do something to you. It should enthral you, transport you to another place, teach you – or even challenge you. It should certainly make you think. I loved this book when I read it, and it certainly took me into a whole new world.
Ezra Reads God’s Law to the People
8 1-2 On the first day of the seventh month,the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from this Law that the Lord had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3 From early morning till noon, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully. 4 Ezra stood on a high wooden platform that had been built for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah were standing to his right, while Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash Baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam were standing to his left.
5 Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the great Lord God, and the people shouted, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord.
7-8 After this, the Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah went among the people, explaining the meaning of what Ezra had read.
9 The people started crying when God’s Law was read to them. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who had been teaching the people all said, “This is a special day for the Lord your God. So don’t be sad and don’t cry!”
10 Nehemiah told the people, “Enjoy your good food and wine and share some with those who didn’t have anything to bring. Don’t be sad! This is a special day for the Lord, and he will make you happy and strong.”
The people have settled in their towns. They have returned from exile and returned to Jerusalem and Judah (7:6), and they are gathering in Jerusalem. The first thing they do is turn to God. It was the people who ask Ezra to go and get the book of the law. Ezra returns with it, and reads it to them. As soon as he opens the book, the people praise God, and kneel in worship. Opening the book of God’s law causes them to respond. It is not a dull lifeless book, or even an interesting read. They experience and acknowledge it as the word of God, and it moves them to worship and praise. If we read further into the book of Nehemiah, their response goes to celebrate the Festival of Shelters and to confess their sins. The word of God doesn’t just instruct them, it moves them to act.
You cannot hear what God has to say and do nothing. Impassivity to God is not possible. You hear his word and you cannot stay the same. Decisions have to be made.
So this gives us two pointers:
- We should take the time to read and listen to God’s word
- We need to respond to it in our lives today
So lets spend time with God’s word, and not just out of interest, but to let it speak to us, challenge us, comfort us, reveal to us who God is.
I come to you,
to read your word.
Help me to hear what you are saying to me
– and to respond