Hear the Word of God
Lord God, give me a real hunger for Your Word so that I may discover the joy of understanding its meaning.
Read Nehemiah 7:73-8:12
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.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NRSV).
These notes are being written in Glasgow, Scotland. The original motto of this city was in the form of a prayer: “Let Glasgow prosper by the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of his name.” Alas, that vision has long been forgotten, leaving the city bereft of purpose or meaning beyond material gain or empty pleasures. This beautiful passage reminds us of a phase in the life of biblical Israel when the entire nation appeared to understand and to desire to practice the word of the Lord.
It is a narrative full of conflicting emotions: there is awestruck worship (6b), broken-hearted repentance (9b), and an ecstatic joy (12). The scene is painted in such vivid colors that it is not difficult to imagine this wonderful occasion, when the clear, loud, public reading and explanation of divine revelation had a transforming impact. Notice two factors that were vital in this event. First, the people—all of them—wanted to be guided and instructed by the word of God (1). They recognized their ignorance and were eager to hear the revelation entrusted to Moses in a fresh and dynamic way.
Second, the message of God was declared in a manner that brought it alive—Ezra could be clearly seen (5) and heard (3), and the text was carefully explained and applied. By the end it is clear that the celebration which concludes the story resulted from the fact that everyone, young and old, “now understood the words that had been made known to them” (12). There are, surely, profound challenges for today in this text, both for hearers and teachers of the Bible.
Re-read the final sentence above and ask yourself precisely what these challenges might be for you and your church. How can you, personally, and your church, corporately, begin to meet them?
Loving Lord, help me stand, not just on Your Word, but also under Your Word. I know how much I need its authority and teaching in my life.