The Bigger Picture
Lord, I pray today that You will “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psa. 119:18).
Read NEHEMIAH 7:73-8:12
 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers 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 assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe 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 scribe 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 could understand what was being read.  Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred 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 sacred 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 sacred 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 Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was the reaction to the reading of God's Word?
For nearly two months Nehemiah had been leading the people in the job of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It had been hard physical work and they had to complete it under armed guard. But now the wall was complete. The first thing they wanted to do was to hear God’s Word. They couldn’t get enough of it. You can almost hear the crowd cheering for more every time Ezra stopped for breath. “Go on Ezra … tell us about the time when…!” So Ezra read the Book of the Law to the people from daybreak till noon. They needed to know how the work they had done fitted into God’s bigger picture.
This scene took place 500 years before the events we have been reading about in Acts. In the same temple building where the apostles preached, another crowd gathered to hear the Word of God. Same God. Same story. And as we read together 2,000 years later, we, too, are part of the same grand narrative.
It’s great to study a short passage from the Bible every day. But it’s powerful to read through the entire story of God. It allows you to see the over-arching purpose of God in history.
Try to make time today to reread Acts 3-6 and see how the Holy Spirit worked in the young church.
Lord, You have done, and still do, wonderful things. Help me to see them more clearly each day.
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