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Just listen – the pastor will read it all.
[ Preceding last verse of chp 7 = “ALL the rest of the Israelites settled in their own towns around Jerusalem. When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns.” ]
1 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. 2So 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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.
[dozens of Levites throughout the crowd helped to explain things: NKJV = “the men [leaders] AND the Levites” – there were more people who could explain the Scriptures.]
8 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. 9 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. 10 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.” 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.”
[Apparently, people had been grieving deeply that they hadn’t read the Bible in so long.]
12 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.
[#1: READ #2: UNDERSTAND (explain) YOU need to open the Bible and READ it – you don’t need to be an expert, or a pastor, or a teacher. If you read and don’t understand, ASK someone. The DEACONS must be able to teach! Come on! Get ready! Here, the Levites did that for the people.]
13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law.
[Husbands and fathers = the HEADS of the families. You ALSO need to gather around the Word of God and give attention to the Word of God. YOU, men, are the pastors of your own families. YOU feed your families physically and spiritually. This is a big responsibility AND privilege.]
14 They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths [shelter – OhDuMa in Korean] during the feast of the seventh month [the Feast of Tabernacles] 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths”–as it is written.
[So, they DID it.]
16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.
- [ READ
17 The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them [more than 40,000 people = 8,000 families]. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. 18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.
Why don’t people read the Bible?
1. It’s complicated.
2. I’m TOO busy.
Wake up in the morning and read FIRST thing.
3. It’s boring.
(This is a problem with you reading the Word – let’s answer that today – HOW to study the Bible.)
Is prayer more important? Don’t you want to let God speak TO you? Proverbs: “When you come into the presence of the king, be quiet, let your words be few.”
4. Some have tried and lost motivation.
Bible reading plans in the back (5 pages each – ask me if you want more copied).
If you WERE a good Bible reader, I want to encourage you to get back to it.
Nehemiah = HISTORY
The past = important, the history of God’s people = MORE important.
If you understand the Jewish people, God made them into a nation from one man – Abraham. (Genesis 12 – “You will be a blessing to all the families of the Earth.” – through Jesus)
The Jews sometimes followed God, sometimes disobeyed – and God punished them.
As a result of their disobedience, they were driven out of the land that God gave them – into other lands – the Assyrians attacked the Northern kingdom – 100 years later Babylonians attacked the rest. 586 years before Jesus, the temple was totally destroyed and the Jews were taken captive.
They were taken prisoner by the Medes and the Persians – the Persians were merciful and allowed them to go back and rebuild the temple.
In the OT – Ezra and Nehemiah were ONE book (now two). Therein, there is the story of 3 groups of people who returned to the Holy Land to rebuild the temple.
If you like History, read Ezra and Nehemiah together.
They returned and began to rebuild the temple – nothing beautiful like Solomon’s temple – some enemies tried to stop them, but God blessed them.
A prophet, priest, scribe came and began to teach and worship with the people (40,000 people) as they rebuilt the temple.
They had worship and were rebuilding the temple. But enemies were constantly attacking because there were no walls.
He was sad and cried out because of this and asked God to return to Jerusalem to help.
Chp 7:66 (42,366 people besides their servants and singers)
Please continue reading Nehemiah 9.
In fact, Ezra AND Nehemiah only take 90 minutes to read.
#1: The people requested God’s Word (v.1)
#1: They made a scheduled TIME for the Word
They hungered for the Word. They didn’t say to the pastor, “Oh, man, another boring and long sermon? Can’t you make it shorter pastor?”
They were there from 5am-12pm (lunch). They didn’t even sit.
Do you have time scheduled for the Word?
#2: They concentrated their hearing (v. 3)
They weren’t sleeping, they were on the edge of their seats asking their neighbors “what was that?” ACTIVE listening. PAY ATTENTION.
What if Jesus was standing right there? Would you sleep? Would you talk to your friend about lunch plans? Would you gossip in church?
CHALLENGE: Uninstall those apps – MP3s, whatever keeps you away from Jesus.
The Internet = an alcohol addiction for some people
Live YOUR life, not some celebrity’s life. Pray for them, but don’t idolize them.
#3: They opened the Book (v. 5)
You have a Bible – OPEN IT. How do you get close to God? OPEN IT. Where do you start? THE BEGINNING. Genesis – then Matthew, Exodus – then Acts…read ROMANS – it makes you hungry.
#4: The teachers read from the book, making it clear. (UNDERSTAND it). (v. 8)
- Some people = “MY pastor is THE pastor to beat ALL pastors.”
- “Oh really? Why?”
- “I TOTALLY don’t understand him. He’s SO smart.”
Pastors NEED to make it CLEAR.
Don’t use Seminary language on the common people. Use layman’s terms. We aren’t your professors…we are simple people…
#5: The teachers caused the people to understand
A teacher’s responsibility is to CAUSE the students to understand. If you’re a teacher and your students get bad grades, whose fault is that? YOURS.
#6: The people heard and wept (v. 9-10)
The Levites said, “Don’t mourn, don’t weep. Today is a day to celebrate!”
At first, the people got the wrong idea, so the teachers gently corrected them. We need teachers who are willing to gently correct us.
God’s Word can change your life if you:
- OPEN it.
- READ it.
- UNDERSTAND it.
- DO it. (Put it into practice)
When the people understood the Word, it changed their behavior. God wanted them to get OUT of their security “comfort zones” – their houses. It reminded them that “this world is NOT your home.” We have so much security here, but THIS is NOT our home.
#7: COME BACK (v. 13-18)
They came back for a second day.
- Day 1: The Levites taught
- Day 2: The men taught (husbands, fathers)
FUTURE husbands ALSO must know the Word of God. Prepare for your family and God will give you a family.
Closing: God really does want to speak to you.
He has been speaking for thousands of years. His revelation is complete – we have everything we need for life and holiness.
2 Peter 1:2-4
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Making One’s Calling and Election Sure
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Doesn’t that sound good to you? To escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires? We all have evil desires inside us – we must say “NO.” We must say, “YES” to Jesus.
When we know God (through the Word) that’s when we have victory over sin.
- Open it
- Read it
- Understand it
- Do it
Life will be troublesome.
Electrocution, hit by a car (many times), hit by a snowmobile, abused as a child (a trusted friend), but God has given me VICTORY over all those troubles. There’s a life ahead of me with no sorrow, sickness, death, pain. That’s what is revealed when you open the book.
Pick up a Bible reading schedule and get started!
Some people even have these plans in their Christian planners, on a smart phone app, online.
Choose one and JUST DO IT.
God bless you.