Hearing the Word
Lord, help me to become lost in the wonder of Your Word and by it to be changed.
Read NEHEMIAH 7:4—8:12
 Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt.  So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:  These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town,  in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah): The list of the men of Israel:  the descendants of Parosh 2,172  of Shephatiah 372  of Arah 652  of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818  of Elam 1,254  of Zattu 845  of Zakkai 760  of Binnui 648  of Bebai 628  of Azgad 2,322  of Adonikam 667  of Bigvai 2,067  of Adin 655  of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98  of Hashum 328  of Bezai 324  of Hariph 112  of Gibeon 95  the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188  of Anathoth 128  of Beth Azmaveth 42  of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743  of Ramah and Geba 621  of Mikmash 122  of Bethel and Ai 123  of the other Nebo 52  of the other Elam 1,254  of Harim 320  of Jericho 345  of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721  of Senaah 3,930  The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973  of Immer 1,052  of Pashhur 1,247  of Harim 1,017  The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah) 74  The musicians: the descendants of Asaph 148  The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 138  The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,  Keros, Sia, Padon,  Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,  Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,  Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,  Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,  Besai, Meunim, Nephusim,  Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,  Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,  Barkos, Sisera, Temah,  Neziah and Hatipha  The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,  Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,  Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon  The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392  The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:  the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642  And from among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).  These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.  The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.  The whole company numbered 42,360,  besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 245 male and female singers.  There were 736 horses, 245 mules,  435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.  Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests.  Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver.  The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.  The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns. When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns,  all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.  So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.  He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.  Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.  Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up.  Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.  The Levites-Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah-instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.  Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.  Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”  Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 201
1 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow long did the people listen to God’s Word being read?
When I visit my friend’s church, I love the moment right at the beginning where the Bible is carried in by the Church Officer, followed by the minister—God’s Word presented publicly with reverence. I feel the same warm glow when I visualize the people in this passage coming together as one and asking Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law. With great attention they listen from daybreak until noon (8:3). All the things they do not understand are explained to them (8:8). Reading God’s Word cuts them to the quick (8:9), and yet it results in joy and practical action (8:12). How hungry they were for the Word of God! Can we honestly say we have that intense desire to read our Bibles? We can make all kinds of excuses for not doing so—lack of time probably ranking high on the list. But if something really is important to us we will carve out opportunities for it. Today we have the privilege of being able to access the Bible and its teaching wherever we are. Let’s take full advance of that.
Be purposeful and set aside more time to devote to God’s Word. Write out your plan.
Living God, You have given us a treasure beyond comprehension in Your Word. Help me to see that it is so.
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