The Revering of Scripture Part Two - Nehemiah 8:13-18
The Revering of Scripture – Part Two
Nehemiah 8:13- 18
Nehemiah 8:13 – 18
13 On the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.
Introduction: Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering. I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn't handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, "All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!" - Our Daily Bread.
- God wants us to find joy in him but He gives us guardrails of protection
- He requires our obedience as His sons or daughters.
- He gives us the Bible which defines His way to find joy and avoid heartaches and the consequences of sin. To find joy even in the midst of suffering and difficulties.
Quote: “God doesn’t give us joy instead of sorrow, or joy in spite of sorrow, but joy in the midst of sorrow. It is not substitution but transformation.” – Warren Wiersbe
- God promises protection and provision if we obey what He says
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
- Will you and I take God at His Word and obey Him?
- Even if it is not convenient for us
- Even if it is not popular to the world around us. Family, friends, co-workers
- Does our life depend on God and what He has revealed to us? Are we relying on His promises when the rubber meets the road??
Purpose: Every Christ follower will find joy in the presence of the Lord and serving the Lord.
Transition: Let’s see how the Israelites took God at His Word and began a celebration of the Feast of Booths that resulted in building communal relationships.
Seeking God in worship makes one desire to be in the presence of God more and more
13 On the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law.
- Worshiping God involvesthe whole body
- Full body experience using your senses
- Should captivate your mind, your heart and your emotions.
- Intellectualresponse – Nehemiah 8:1-8
- Emotionalresponse – Nehemiah 8:9 – 12
- Volitionalresponse – Nehemiah 8:13-18
- Worshiping God is ledby the spiritual leaders
- Notice that this is the second day of the week of the Feast of Trumpets
- Verses 1 – 12 that we studied last week was Day one of the Feast of Trumpets
- Notice that this is the second day of the week of the Feast of Trumpets
- On this day, it was the men, the priests, the Levites who gathered to hear what Ezra would read today. These were the spiritual leaders. They were there to hear, to learn, to live it and most importantly pass it on
- According to a Pew Research Study - 47% of adult children live at home. That is as high as when the Great Depression was going on.
- Jim Burns book “Doing Life with Your Adult Children: Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out
- So even if your children are grown and living at home, dads and moms, you must develop a culture of spirituality in your home.
- Not just devotions
- Not just living it
- But stated ways, examples and expectations of how this is a Christ centered home
- But if your kids are not adults yet but living at home, now, more than ever, we need to be building into our kids’ lives on how to have a biblical world view that is shaped by the Gospel and what that looks like in our everyday life
- What is a world view?
- It is how you view the world with your moral beliefs as the basis for your decisions and how you live out those moral beliefs
- A Gospel centered world view means that the Gospel that brought us to Christ and is transforming us into His image is shaping all of our opinions and decisions we make.
- Fathers and mothers, this is your clarion call from the time your son and daughter are born until they move out into adulthood and become independent of our authority. But your voice and influence will still be available to them.
- The Gospel and God’s Word need to be the foundation and the prism that your children look through first to filter through their decisions.
- Do your kids see you, as husband and wife going to the Lord in prayer when there is a crisis?
- Do they catch you studying God’s Word?
- Do they see you living a blameless life? Apologizing when you do something wrong? Telling the truth as much as possible?
- We worship God through how we live out our relationship with Christ before our family.
Application: Are you fully engaged in our worship with God?
Transition: These spiritual leaders took to heart what Ezra was preaching to them and they responded in instant obedience.
Serving God in response to worship increases the joy of the Lord in one’s heart and life
14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,
- The purposeof the festivals
- They now had two weeks to prepare for the Feast of Booths
Leviticus 23:39 – 44
39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” 44 Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the Lord.
- The Israelites were to go out and gather branches and leaves and weave them together and make a lean to like structure that represented the temporary housing of the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness
- After building this lean to type structure, they and their family were supposed to live in it for a week to identify and remember what their ancestors has gone through.
- It was their journey, their forty-year wandering to the Promised Land
- The Feast of Booths was to be a week-long celebration filled with joy, praise, and thanksgiving.
- The purpose of all the feasts they celebrated were to;
- Look back
- Look around
- Look forward
- They were to see how God was faithful in their past and was faithful over and over to them in their lifetime to give them assurance that God will continue to be faithful no matter what may come their way in the future.
- We celebrate Christmas / Easter to remember God sending His special revelation to us at birth and His death, burial and resurrection to remind us of the overcoming life that we possess.
- Notice in verses 15 – 16 that the leaders proclaimed and published the fact that all must comply with the Book of the Law and celebrate the Feast of Booths.
15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim.
- Picture of some possible Booths made for the Feast.
- The power of community
17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so
- This verse does not mean that they had not celebrated it since Joshua did. The celebrated it under Solomon and at other times.
- It was not the fact of the celebration that was so special but the way they celebrated, for it appears that everybody participated enthusiastically. Because every family made a booth, some of the people had to move from the houses into the streets and squares of the city. Apparently in previous years, not all the Jews had made booths and lived in them for the week of the feast. They had given only “token” acknowledgment of the feast. Furthermore, the joyful attitude of the people was beyond anything the nation had ever seen. It was truly a week of joyful celebration that brought glory to the Lord.
- The Jewish people developed what we now know as “community”.
- “It is no accident that the Jewish people call themselves “Am Yisrael“–“the people of Israel”— rather than “Dat Yisrael,” or”the religion of Israel.” A sense of peoplehood has long been the defining characteristic of the Jews. Accordingly, the central experience of Jewish history–the only event that demands an annual retelling–is the exodus from Egypt. Though wrapped up in an encounter with divinity, the exodus was primarily an experience of national liberation, rather than a moment of religious awakening.
- On the everyday level, this focus on peoplehood is translated into an emphasis on the community as the primary organizing structure of Jewish life. Wherever Jews have lived, they have built synagogues, established communal organizations and created systems of communal governance.
- According to the Talmud (commentary of the Jewish Pentateuch), A talmid haham (Torah scholar) is not allowed to live in a city that does not have these 10 things: a beit din (law court) that metes out punishments; a tzedakah fund that is collected by two people and distributed by three; a synagogue; a bath house (mikveh ); a bathroom; a doctor; a craftsperson; a blood-letter; (some versions add: a butcher); and a teacher of children.” (Sanhedrin 17b)
- In other words, in order to be a suitable place to live, a community must provide for all of its members’ spiritual and physical needs. The presence of a beit din helps to protect residents from falling victim to crime. A tzedakah fund under appropriate supervision aids community members who have fallen into poverty.
- A synagogue offers a place for prayer, as well as for communal gatherings. The bathhouse, bathroom, doctor, craftsperson, blood-letter and butcher provide for the physical needs of residents. The teacher ensures that the next generation is versed in Jewish tradition and prepared eventually to assume leadership of the community.
- These communities set up by the Jews made them semi-autonomous to not only meet the needs of the people but to share life together.
- God made us relational and we are meant to live in community with one another in order to be healthy in all aspects of life
- Look at what happens when people are isolated and live a reclusive life. Their view of the world changes. They become self-centered and sometimes even paranoid.
- God lives in relationship with the Trinity
- The church is God’s modern-day example of community which is here to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the church family
- Welfare was unnecessary years ago because the people of God and churches took care of the needs of those who were suffering.
- When the church stopped doing its job, the gov’t took on the responsibility.
- May we serve alongside one another and be engaged as part of this loving community we call PVBC and rejoice in the church family God has given to us.
Illustration: When Rev. Heber Brown III started noticing a particular need trending in his church, he did what pastors do – he found a way to spearhead a solution. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone; now, neither do the people under Brown’s care.
That’s because his church, Pleasant Hope Baptist, planted a community garden in order to provide the people in their community with fresh produce. Since food deserts, obesity, and diabetes plague many parts of Baltimore, the garden is meeting a critical need in the community.
Not content to keep all the goodness, Brown considered what might happen if he could find other local and regional partners. “We saw attendance bump up in our worship, we saw a great energy … and it went so [well] here, that I wondered what would happen if we could spread it through other churches and create a network of churches that do the same thing.”
- I have been praying for the last couple of years for God to reveal to the leadership of our church what we can be known for in our community to reach out and make a difference by meeting a need that is in Bettendorf.
Application: Are you rejoicing in your service to God and with others?
Transition: Their obedience to God and His Word brought great rejoicing to their hearts.
Sensing God’s will after worship brings great rejoicing
And there was very great rejoicing.
- Joy in hearing God’s Word
I Corinthians 13:6
But rejoices with the truth
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
- Joy in sharing the blessings of God with others
18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.
- The week ended with a solemn assembly, focusing and reverencing God and then they went out to their regular schedules once again.
10 And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
- The Feast of Booths was a time of celebration but also encouragement and enrichment as well
- The mind takes in the knowledge of God and expands men and women’s horizons and faith
- The heart grows by giving out to others. Sharing the knowledge and the joy of the Lord with others.
- This was a mountain top experience; i.e. like camp, like VBS, like a mission’s trip, like going on a retreat or visiting the Holy Land
- Why is it so hard to sustain the joy of celebration?
- Life has its way of wearing us down when we get back to the routine of things
- We don’t have that intentional focused time with the Lord
- We have to go down into the valley where the people live and live with them and their sin and their burdens affect us. They can steal our joy and we soon forget about that mountain top experience. We cannot sustain it.
- BUT, we can sustain the joy that comes from it through whatever life brings our way. We can look forward to those mountain top experiences but we cannot live our lives on the mountain top all of the time.
- Someone asked evangelist Billy Sunday if revivals lasted, and he replied, “No, neither does a bath; but it’s good to have one occasionally!” - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Determined (p. 104). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- The Israelites in short order will become careless again and will need Nehemiah to return for a second term as governor to get them back on the straight path with God again.
- We are too easily distracted and pulled away from God and our relationship to Him.
- We are too easily involved in this world and its trappings.
- That is why God brings revival to us individually sometimes, as a church sometimes and as a nation or people group sometimes
- During revival we focus on;
- Searching the scriptures
- Dealing with our sin
- This brings fresh life like it did to these Israelites and it can happen to you even today
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Application: Are you finding joy in the fact that God is using you?
Illustration: JOY IN THIS WORLD: Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone. - The Bible Friend, Turning Point, May, 1993. http://www.eSermons.com
Illustration: Orel Herschiser
Key Thought: Let the joy of the Lord be contagious in your life!
Questions to Ponder this Week
- Do you come prepared with your heart and focus for worship on Sunday mornings?
- Are you enjoying serving God with others as a team?
- Are you finding God revealing more truth to you as you obey Him?
“When was the last time you laughed for sheer joy of your salvation? People are not attracted to somber doctrines. There is no persuasive power in a gloomy and morbid religion. Let the world see your joy and you won’t be able to keep them away. To be filled with God is to be filled with joy.” – Anonymous
“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” – Matthew Henry