Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
8:1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel.
8:2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month.
8:3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
8:8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
8:9 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 when they heard the words of the law.
8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
There are times in our lives we go through seasons of spiritual drought. The nation of Israel was always experiencing spiritual seasons in which their hearts had run dry and grown empty of their zeal and thirst for God’s word.
In this situation, the nation had spent a century being free from the captivity of the Babylonians and been allowed to return to Jerusalem after a lengthy exile. Their life up until this point had been hard and filled with suffering at the hands of their hostile neighbors. They were physically and spiritually weak and now called a time for the heart of the nation to be revived by God’s word and His promises once again.
The Christian life is filled with times in which we too experience a need for refreshment. Here we see how when the Israelites finally came under the word of God, they were once again replenished with joy and a love for God and His word. Their souls were made fresh once again and they responded by worshipping and bowing down to their one true God.
Whenever you find yourself entering into a time of dryness in your walk with God, do not allow for yourself to fall into guilt or sadness. Instead go back and recall all the times in which God and His word had once brought you so much joy and pick up His word and refresh yourself again. Rely on God’s strength to lead and guide you to live with a zeal for Him and His word each and every day.
The Jews eventually returned from exile in Babylon. When they did Ezra and Nehemiah were ready to retrain and rebuild the nation. But part of recapturing the essence of being God’s people was remembering their past with the Lord and being reminded of the commands He gave them. Moreover, it was placing the word of God in their hearts and minds. When Ezra read from the scriptures the nation was moved and they listened for hours.
Today, virtually every Christian has a copy of the Bible. We are also free to read and worship God. How much more joyful should we be that we were neither exiled nor separated from the word of God? We should take advantage of our position every day and thank the Lord for blessing us with so much…. often much more than we deserve.
[Featured image from thebarnprincess.com]