Good morning Christian. I wanted to let you know that I ran into our old pal Consumer yesterday. He said he had read my previous blog post about God’s word being “enough.” As you may be able to guess, he didn’t believe me.
I was reminded this week of a story from the Old Testament about God’s word. Nehemiah is a book in the Bible that tells the story about God’s people at the end of a long captivity in the foreign kingdom of Babylon. Nehemiah leads a group back to Israel to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. It’s a book about restoration, faith, and God’s faithfulness in guiding His people.
After the walls are rebuilt the people gather to worship together. Ezra, one of the great spiritual leaders of the Old Testament, leads them in worship that is saturated with the word of God. It’s a beautiful picture:
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.
Their worship is centered on a revelation of God that is completely derived from, saturated with, and informed by His word. They didn’t gather together to simply talk about their feelings or opinions. Their corporate worship began and ended with God’s word. It wasn’t a dry or empty worship gathering either. It was emotional, it was demonstrative, it may have even been a little bit loud at times. But it was true. It was God-focused and God-honoring.
God’s people, who had just suffered for 80 years in captivity because of unfaithfulness to Him, had been restored by God’s grace. And as they worked to lay a new foundation, they sought to build their lives once again on the revelation God had given them in His word. Why did they respond so extremely to God’s word? I think verse 8 tells us why.
8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
That one word “clearly” tells why this was so intense. It means “to make distinct,” but it is also the word used in some contexts that means “to pierce or to sting.” They were cut to the heart as God’s word was clearly laid out for them. They had heard it before, but they had denied it. They had turned a blind eye to its sufficiency for their lives and their community, and they paid a dear price by the hands of their enemies.
Remember this Christian. God’s word is enough. Read it every day, memorize it, saturate your life with it. And make sure you are rooted in a faith community where there are leaders (like Ezra and these Levites) who will explain it and teach it clearly day by day.