Saturday 5th December 2015
WORD ON WORK (Nehemiah 7)
When you think it’s all over it’s not!
When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities. Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Nehemiah 7:73b-8:2 NKJV
The People and the Book…
French author Victor Hugo said over a century ago, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare but the Bible made England.” Supporting that view, historians tell us that Elizabethan England was indeed a country of one book, and that book was the Bible.
When they arrived in America, the Pilgrim Fathers had with them that same reverence for the Word of God. “The Bible came with them,” said American statesman Daniel Webster, “and it is not to be doubted that the free and universal reading of the Bible is to be ascribed in that age that men were indebted for right views of civil liberties.” President Woodrow Wilson said, “America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.”
Whether the Bible is “making” any nation today may be debated, but one thing is sure: the Scriptures helped to “make” the nation of Israel. They were a “people of the Book” as no other nation has been, and the church today would do well to follow ancient Israel’s example, when they had a godly king and reformation. When God’s people get away from loving, reading, and obeying the Word of God, they lose the blessing of God. If we want to be like fruitful trees, we must delight in God’s Word (Psalm 1:2-3).
This explains why Nehemiah called for a gathering of the people and invited Ezra the scribe to be the teacher. The walls were now finished and the gates were hung. The material needs of the city had been met; now it was time to focus on the spiritual needs of the people in the city.
It is important for us to note that Ezra and Nehemiah put the Word of God first in the life of the city. What happened in Jerusalem from that point on was a by-product of the people’s response to the Scriptures. “The primary task of the church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God,” said Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “The decadent periods and eras in the history of the church have always been those periods when preaching had declined” (Preaching and Preachers, pp. 19, 24). It’s a truth of itself that the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to cleanse and revive the hearts of the people of God.
If God is to work in and through us His people, then we must respond positively to His Word; in this chapter we see the three basic responses (1) understanding the Word (8:1-8), (2) rejoicing in the Word (vv. 9-12), and (3) obeying the Word (vv. 13-18). The whole person — mind (understanding), heart (rejoicing), and will (obeying)-must be captive to God’s truth.