Text: Nehemiah 8:1-12
Have you experienced going to the ATM machine to withdraw some cash and the machine tells you that your balance is insufficient? How does it feel when your account balance is almost zero? Well, I know that feeling; and it sucks.
The Israelites had a nearly similar experience. No, they did not went to an ATM machine (not invented yet during this time) but experienced the realization that they have zero balance in the knowledge of the Word of God. After almost 1000 years of not hearing the Word of God or reading from the Book (since the time of Joshua), their “word bank” deposit is nil!
In Nehemiah chapter 8, Ezra positioned the Bible (he did not say, “take your Bible,” for there is only one copy) so everybody can see and hear. He exerted an effort to read the Word of God. And rightly so. To set aside a time to read our Bible is something special. We should not take it for granted.
Ezra gave “the sense,” i.e., he explained to the people what Moses had written. We must exert an effort to understand the Word of God. In our text above, the people stood there in the middle of the square; they stayed for hours to listen. If one is thirsty or hungry, one will endure no matter how long the line-up is! Because it’s always worth the wait. God fed His people so they can worship, repent, and be joyful in His presence. Once fed, the people: worshiped (v6), wept (v9) and celebrated (v10).
During the 15th century the cost of buying a Bible is equivalent to a workman’s 3 years’ salary (especially during the time of Johann Gutenberg). Now, it’s free and available in most hotels or on the internet and even on most android mobile phones and gadgets. But sadly, many people still don’t read it. Remember that any amount of time spent in God’s word reaps tons of dividends!
Ezra read the Word of God for about six (6) hours. And the people would not want him to stop until they got their blessing. There are times when we have to read and re-read and read some more, and we don’t stop until we got the blessing that we desire from God. We need to continue to hunger for God’s Word and continue to ignite our passion for knowing God and experience revival.
When we don’t hunger for God’s Word, it could be that we are spiritually malnourished, and feeding on spiritual junk food. If we truly hunger for God’s Word, then we will endure any hardship, overcome any distractions and make it our priority feed on the Word of God.
The more the Word of God sheds light into our hearts, the more it exposes areas in our lives that do not conform to God’s standard. If a week goes by without studying or reading our Bible and we feel like we are okay, that is a sure sign of spiritual malnutrition. If we continue like this, chances are we will be in spiritual ICU soon.
God is calling us today to renew our covenant with Him. How did the Israelites responded to God’s Word? How do we respond today?