Lent 2022 Day 30
Tue 5 Apr
Nehemiah 7 and 8 Ezra and Nehemiah –
God still looks after his people
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, 1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.
Nehemiah and his helpers returned to the wasted city of Jerusalem, ruined and defenceless. They set about rebuilding the walls and the ancient gates, amid opposition. Finally, when the work was done, there was a dedication ceremony like no other for those who had never left and the 42 thousand who had been allowed to return.
Nehemiah knows the fundamental importance of the Law, for it was the former citizens’ disregard for it that caused their exile. The whole company come together to hear the Law being read by one man. More people than can fit into the Ipswich football ground. And one voice speaking to them all, reciting the ancient texts.
These people had not been brought up with the Law. They may have been hearing it for the first time. Teachers were needed who could explain the text as Ezra read it. From the sun breaking the horizon to its highest point the people heard the words of the Law, and realised their identity before God the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that they were his people and that, despite the exile, they were special to God.
They all listened attentively. Many wept as they began to understand the significance of this holy book, that contained not only Law, but Covenant Promise. How much more for us, who also have the New Testament, to realise that there is an even deeper covenant relationship that is open to us with Father God through Christ Jesus. Through the New Testament, the New Covenant with Father God, we can see ourselves written into its story and message.
Would you go to a reading of the Bible at Portman Road?
Have you read a (sizeable) book of the Bible in one sitting (or standing)?
How much does your congregation honour the reading of the Bible in services?
Father God, give me, I pray, a deep desire to hear and read the Bible, and would you reveal to me, as I read and soak in it, the deeper truths concerning you and your plan. In Jesus’ name I pray. May I rejoice at the hearing of Scripture. Amen.
Covenant keeping God: