Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 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. (Nehemiah 8:1-5)
Respect For The Book
Today is a day of worship. We have been privileged to gather with those of like precious faith on a day commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A common theme throughout the world will be saints singing songs to one another and lifting up words of thanksgiving to the Father. A solemn yet happy occasion to remember the love of Jesus will highlight our time together. The fellowship of brethren is very special. We get to see our brothers and sisters to share our love for one another. Fantastic. And then there is the preaching. The sit down for a while part. Where we listen to a sermon part. It is what we do. But of all things that we do on this day of worship this one part has undergone a radical change. It has to do with THE BOOK. Alias: THE BIBLE.
The writing of Nehemiah is a time of turmoil. Jerusalem has laid waste for more than 70 years and there is a great need to restore the people of God to faithful service. First to be rebuilt is the Temple and then the walls are restored in a remarkable fifty-two days. Under the leadership of Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai and Zechariah the city was transformed. I believe the reason for this restoration was because of our text today.
THERE WERE TOGETHER AS ONE MAN. Worship to these downtrodden people was a time to unify. Prosperity diffuses this desire and we become complacent. Unity is often found just because we sit on the same pew. What made these folk different was they came together on their own and they wanted something. They wanted the book. Talk about being hungry for the word. Thirsting makes people seek water and they wanted the water of life.
THEY TOLD EZRA TO BRING THE BOOK. They did not ask for opinion or conjecture or what Ezra thought they ought to do. The only thing that could take care of the problem was found in the BOOK. Isn’t that a great statement? “Bring the book,” they cried. If we had that spirit today!!! We are no longer a reading society. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the word of God and that requires reading the BOOK. The education of the church today is pre-Kindergarten is so many places. Ezra was living among people who wanted to learn and wanted to know the book. (And think how many copies of the Bible we all have and how easy it is to get and how much time we spend in it).
WHEN HE OPENED IT, THEY ALL STOOD UP. I am not advocating standing up for the sermon but do you see their attitude? Respect. Honor for THE BOOK. It has crossed my mind to begin the sermon by asking first, “How many have their Bibles with them this morning?” and ask for a show of hands (or Bibles). It is not uncommon for many to sit through a sermon without opening THE BOOK. We should be curious people to see what God’s word says – literally. Brother Louis used to ‘amen’ the reading of scripture while I was in Trenton. Loved it. Miss it. He did not amen what I said; he would amen the word of the Lord.
Three things to think about today: Be united; Call for the book; Respect the book.