Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 8 has the people gathering.  “Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly….he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand”.  There was a return to God’s Word after many years of abandonment.  And it wasn’t just Ezra but “the ears of all the people were attentive.”   They were focused on listening and hearing God’s Word.

Ezra was up on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose surrounded by a group of men on his right and his left who stood beside him.  Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people….“he opened it all the people stood”.  There was a worshipful attitude among the people.  God’s Word has the power to impact people if we only read it and listen with our heart.  “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God….they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground”.

There was a group of Levites who were among the people as Ezra read God’s Word.  These 13 men “helped the people to understand the Law….they read from the book….clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading”.  Remember that God’s Word had not been read or heard for decades.  So it was important for the people to not only hear the Word, but to have someone help them understand it clearly.  These Levites helped make the Word understandable so it could do its work on the people.

But as the people heard God’s Word, they were convicted and began to mourn and weep.  But Nehemiah doesn’t want that to be the outcome of God’s Word – at least not now.  He tells them “do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.  He tells them to celebrate God’s Law and His glory.  The Levites were able to calm the people down  and they then continued “day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God”.

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