Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (Chapter 9:1-5 Part 2)

on December 15, 2014

The Israelites had just experienced the joyful Feast of Booths celebration for the first time in a long time.  They were walking in revival and joy which led them to be even hungrier for more of God’s Word, truth, change, obedience, and blessing.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting…together they were forsaking physical comforts to focus on spiritual needs.  and in sackcloth…God doesn’t see like man sees. God looks at the heart not exterior appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).  The people were dressed for the LORD! and with earth on their heads…How does one get dirt on one’s head?  By bowing low to the ground in humility and desperation.  I know this to be true because after each reference to confession, it is written that they “stood up” (vs. 2,3,5)  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners…they came away from those who didn’t belong to God, who didn’t understand God’s ways, who were potential distractions to their spiritual purity and growth.  And stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  Before they even heard from God’s Word, they prepared their hearts by purifying them.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.  We’re talking about a six-hour church service!  Standing–listening to truth being read; bowing in confession together; standing and worshiping the living God who has kept His covenant with His people, born with them throughout their rebellion and rejection, and  in mercy drawn them back to himself.  On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Buni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.  Even the leaders were desperate for confession and for God’s mercy in their lives.  They knew they didn’t have it all together, so they led the way for the people.  Then the Levites, Jesua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting.  Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”  Then the call to worship came, and quiet a worship service followed!  I wrote a little about it in my last post, and hope to write more in my next post.

God’s Word is invaluable in the life of His followers.  It is powerful, alive and active!  Sometimes we don’t read it because we are afraid we won’t understand it; sometimes because we don’t think we need it.  Often, we read it and it doesn’t have an effect on our lives.  I wonder now if it is because of the way we approach it.  Maybe we just do it to check it off for the day.  Maybe we try to squeeze it in to an already packed schedule.  Maybe we do it before we are really alert at the start of day or when we are exhausted at day’s end.  If I want God’s Word to impact my life, I must approach it with humility and expectation; without distractions or detachment due to sin in my life.  God’s Word is holy, worthy of reverence and of a time commitment.  Matthew Henry said of this passage, “They stayed together six hours and spent all the time in solemn acts of religion without saying, ‘Behold, what a weariness it is’!”

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