Let me recap where we are.
What happens in this passage is the beginnings of revival. But, it’s not based on a big wall. It’s based on the Bible.
Chapter 7 is mostly organizational. In other words, it’s boring. But, Nehemiah is establishing structures and accounting for people and this is vital. [Read]
Now we come to an important context. We are in the seventh month (Tishrei: late September – late October) – v7.73.
As we reach the first day of the seventh month (8.1-2) we see God beginning to move. The foundation of the wall was great; but we need a better foundation – the Word of God.
Nehemiah wisely realizes that it’s time to pass on the leadership.
He appoints Hanani and Hananiah charge over Jerusalem because “he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many (7.2).”
He (They) call Ezra “to bring the book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel (8.1).”
So, here’s what happens (8.3-8)
PowerPlant pastor told of his congregation’s excitement over the Word of God when he came to preach.
As Ezra opened the book, he blessed God, and the people worshiped (8.5-6).
The people were struck to the heart over their sins (8.9-12). They were encouraged not to mourn, but celebrate because the day – and by extension – the people were being set apart for God.
Catch this: Because they understood the Word (8.12).
On the second day they gather again but this time just the heads of the houses (8.13-15). They were drawn to the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles – “Sukkot” see Lev 23).
Here’s the highlights:
15th day of seventh month lasting one week.
First and eighth day are holy convocations.
Context is harvest and God’s provision.
The remembrance is that the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt. They lived in booths but depended on God to provide.
So, the practice was to live in booths for a week while celebrating God’s provision remembering that the LORD is God alone.
In other words, after taking in the harvest, the Israelites celebrated the fact that they don’t live on food alone, but on every word that precedes from the mouth of God.
They participated whole-heartedly (8.16-18).
So, this was a timely reminder at the very moment that their harvest was in and the city of Jerusalem was secure. God’s Word took center stage. And, that’s where they found their strength. That’s where true renewal started. That’s where revival began.
So, when are we going to have revival?
I get asked that question regularly. And, it’s kind of amusing because true revival is a work of God. What the person means is when are we having revival services? (which doesn’t necessarily coincide with actual revival…)
But, even if we can’t dictate when revival happens, we can prepare ourselves for it. Here we see that revival was based on the presence of God’s Word. And, that is the case with all true revival. it is centered on the clear declaration of God.
So, if revival is founded on the Bible. Then let’s gather four calls to action for how we can better approach the Bible in our lives:
1. Prepare to receive. The people gathered together on multiple occasions to receive God’s Word (8.1,13).
2. Tune your ears to hear. In v8.3 we see that all the people’s ears were attentive to the Book of the Law.
This process may be different for you than for me. Get quiet, remove distractions…
The devil would love to steal away God’s Word as it comes to you. He told a parable about that where the seed (Word of God) fell on hardened ground and the birds (devil) came to steal it away.
3. Create patterns of regular intake. The people took a massive dose on the first day. But, it continued on after that. V8.18 says throughout the feast they continued day by day hearing from the Book of the Law.
We likewise have to create patterns of intake. Hear the Bible; read the Bible; meditate on the Bible; memorize the Bible…
The goal should be assimilation of God’s thoughts into your thoughts. So, these 2nd and 3rd points are about helping you find understanding. This is the repeated emphasis of the first day (8.2,3,7,8,12).
4. Respond every time. The end goal is obedience. But, at the very least don’t approach it as a purely educational exercise. The end goal of receiving the Word of God is not simply knowledge; it’s life change.
Messages in this series
Messages by Greg Taylor