I love reading Nehemiah 8, and picturing all of the people gathered to listen to the Word of God. I find myself sometimes grieving over what I see around me. There are so many people who are not looking to hear God’s Word. Rather than attending church with ears to hear the Word, people often have ears closed. Many times I see people scrolling along on their phones or I see people with roaming eyes. I have even heard people having full on conversations during the message.
As Ezra read the Word of God to the people who assembled, they stood around hoping to understand. They continued to listen as “he read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” They “listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” When they heard what God’s Word said, they “lifted their hands,” and they “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces on the ground.” The passion, the desire, the love for God’s Word is simply beautiful. I have seen this before. I have felt this many times. It is my prayer that you have this constant passion, this ever-present desire, this unending thirst for God’s Word.
We are so very blessed to have God’s Word within reach. There was a time when there were only scrolls, and not many were accessible to all. People would gather to hear. We now have shelves with various translations. What a difference!?! But the passion they had for the Word when it was not so accessible often times seems to be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. Have you wept over God’s Word? Have you sought it out with great desire? Have you clung to His Word? Have you found yourself spending the day meditating and chewing on His Truth? Today, ask the Spirit to light a fire in you so you regain passion for His Word.
“So 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. 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…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. 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.” -Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6 [NIV]
Jehoshaphat was deeply committed to the Lord and His ways. He showed this in many ways. He removed the pagan shrines. He removed the Asherah poles. But he didn’t stop there. He gathered his officials, the Levites, and others, and sent them off with copies of the Book of the Law. They went traveling around through all of the town of Judah. They were teaching the people the Law.
If we are deeply committed to the Lord, we will follow His commands and we will attempt to remove the bad things in our lives. We slowly transform by the power of Christ, by the Word of God. But we aren’t simply to be deeply committed to growing in Christ in our own lives. There should be an overflowing that reaches others.
Jehoshaphat was in a position to send the Levites, his officials, and a group of others to teach. He had that within his power due to his position. He not only had them travel with the copies but also to teach them to the people in ALL the towns of Judah. That’s a lot of towns. Today, what are you in a position to do? Are you committed or are you deeply committed? You might say you do not have the power to take the message of Jesus very far; however, remember that this isn’t on your power but through His power. Don’t limit what can be done. By His power, you may only be starting a great work. Let us reach the finish line of this great race. I pray you all will be deeply committed.
“He was deeply committed to the ways of the LORD. He removed the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah. They took copies of the Book of the Law of the LORD and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people.” – 2 Chronicles 17:6, 9 [NLT]