After seeing that people are so important in chapter seven, we now see what is important to the people in chapter eight. They gather as one (v.1), and tell Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses. They wanted, simply, to know how God desired them to live, and sought this knowledge from His Word to them. Practical provisions are made to ensure that everyone can hear and understand (vv.3-4), and the people stand for around six hours to hear the Word!
The people respond with prayer and with worship (v.6), and the general sense we get here is that the people genuinely desired to understand the Word of God and then apply it to their own lives (v.8). They didn’t want an emotional exhortation, a lambasting lecture, or Ezra’s five top tips for an awesome life, but they wanted the Law of God, clearly…the sense…and to understand it (v.8). This, evidently, moved them to tears (vv.9-12, cf. 2 Timothy 3.16).
The next day, we see another wonderful leadership principle in the book of Nehemiah,
Leaders lead by learning (v.13).
The simple obedience of those in leadership led to the people observing the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles (vv.14-18). This reminded the people of how the Lord provided for His people in their exodus through the wilderness, and brought something ancient right into their modern lives.
This bringing of old into the new, yesteryear into today, has its roots in the people’s desire for the Word of God. We will never understand, accept, and action God’s will and plans for our lives if we are not spending time in His Word, if His Word is not important to us. Just think – would you stand outside for six hours to receive God’s Word and to be told what it all means for you, is the Word that important to you?
Now, yes, this group of people had more than one reason to be so desperate and hungry and singularly-focused on establishing a community living in the light of the Word – they had, remember, just returned from exile and rebuilt both temple and walls – but the principle is very much applicable to you and to me: is God’s Word occupying a prominent position in your life? Do you turn to the Word for guidance for living? Are you doing your earthly best to live in the light of what it teaches?
Thankfully for you and for me, we have the additional benefit of looking at what this really looked like in action through the living embodiment of the Word, Jesus, the Word become flesh (John 1.14).
Today then, spend time in the Word, spend time looking at what this looked like in real life, spend time looking at Jesus.