Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (Chapter 8:13-18)

on December 11, 2014

One of the effects of revival is a greater appetite for God’s Word.  That’s exactly what we find in the second half of Nehemiah 8.  And just like our physical appetites demand to be fed on a regular basis, so it is with our spiritual appetite.  In this section of verses, we see the people studying God’s Word, changing their lives to reflect the commands found in God’s Word, and experiencing the joy of obedience to God’s Word.  God’s Word is meant to be read day by day.  It is how we experience His nearness and presence in our lives.  And in His presence is fullness of joy! (Psalm 16:11)

Studied the Word.  On the second day the HEADS of the fathers’ houses of ALL the people, with the priests and the Levites CAME TOGETHER to Ezra the scribe in order TO STUDY THE WORDS OF THE LAW. (8:13)  It’s interesting that the men took over leading their families in the ways of God once revival broke out.  That is miraculous–and would be in our day, too.  Also, we see that the men came together–unified–for one purpose; to know the Scripture!  Theirs was a single-minded driving force.

Believed and Followed the Word.  And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leaf trees to make booths, as it is written.” SO THE PEOPLE WENT OUT and brought them and made booths for themselves…And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths. (8:14-16a, 17a) Once they studied the words of the Law, they changed their direction in obedience to it.  They led their families, which in turn brought the whole city together in celebration of God’s faithfulness.

Obeying God’s Word brings joy.  And there was VERY GREAT rejoicing! And DAY BY DAY, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. (8:17b-18a)  God’s Word is the pathway to true joy, and we need to hear it daily.

The Festival of Booths was a celebration commemorating the time the Israelites lived in temporary shelters in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land after being delivered from Egyptian captivity.  It celebrated a time when God dwelt among His people–leading and providing for them.  This festival in particular would have been extra special in Nehemiah’s time as their generation was also returning to the Promised Land from a time of captivity.  Their hearts would have been full of gratitude.

Similar to the Israelites, those of us who belong to God have been delivered from captivity/slavery.  We are currently living in a foreign country on our way to our eternal Promised Land. But God is dwelling with us, leading us, providing for us, and protecting us along the way.  May we not take it for granted, but let Him well up a desire in our hearts for more of His Word and more of His presence and a desire to be obedient to His Word so that we can experience revival and rejoicing.

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