Read: Nehemiah 7:73b-10:39
Nehemiah wasn’t just building a wall, there was purpose beyond simple fortification and construction. As I type this a song is playing in my head that just won’t stop — Wonder (Hillsong UNITED, 2017). The artists paint the picture in words and music to pay tribute to those who have only seen the world in gray, those who have been color blind. Through the wonder of modern science, they put on glasses that let them see all the colors God has for us to see and they weep with overwhelming joy. The wonder of our God who lavishes grace upon grace that we could see the world through his eyes.
This is the world Nehemiah was attempting to see and Ezra was the priest who knew the Law more than anyone. For this time and in this place, these were the most wonderful words that could be spoken for God’s people.
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. Nehemiah 8:3
Men, women and others: this is an event that invites all to participate who can understand. The people gathered with great anticipation as Ezra read the 1,000+ year old words of God through the hand of Moses. Sometimes we have to go without something to appreciate it more. There are stories of people coming to faith after being taken as hostages or significant life events that destroyed personal belongings. We become so accustomed to having things, to our routine, that we often miss miracles that happen before our eyes each day.
Trust me, I don’t pray for bad times in order to remember the good, but sometimes I wonder.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. Nehemiah 8:8
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. Nehemiah 8:17
Such an incredible outpouring of love and devotion to God for his incredible mercy. The people were called to a great confession.
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. Nehemiah 9:17-18
We serve a God who chooses not to desert us when we are at our worst! This is the God I serve, the One who regards a relationship with each of us a priority. Such an overwhelming thought.
Chapter 9 summarizes the Old Testament, the rollercoaster journey of God’s people, our ancestors, as they went through highs and lows, listening and rebellion, from good to bad to worse. The people remembered that which was forgotten and agreed to change their ways.
Once again, Nehemiah lists people by name, those who committed themselves to keeping the Law, the Levites, leaders, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the surrounding nations–all who reclaimed their faith:
bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord. Nehemiah 10:29
“In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.” Nehemiah 9:38
“We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39
Though I am undeserving, I am willing to put my name on the list. I will commit to being a servant of Christ above all others. I will be a faithful husband to my amazing wife and father to our daughters as best as I know how. I will be the best neighbor I can be and a friend to friends like never before so the world will know of the love of Christ.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Will you add your name to the list?