Sunday Morning Starters – Worship
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)
Learning How To Worship In Six Easy Steps
This was a new generation. Unlike the generations before them that worshipped idols and took the nation of Israel into seventy years of captivity, the crowd that stood before the preacher was different. They had a changed attitude from the days the book of the Law was lost to be discovered in the days of Josiah. Gathered before the scribe Ezra assembled a host of people who wanted something more in their worship.
THEY CAME TOGETHER AS ONE PEOPLE TO WORSHIP. There was a remarkable spirit of unity among the people. They witnessed the incredible work of Nehemiah who rallied the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days. The Temple had been completed and the city took on the appearance of the city of God once again. United together by a common cause they gathered together as one man. Worship is about unity.
THEY ASKED FOR THE BOOK. These were truth seekers. The message of God was precious to them and they wanted to have the Law read to them. Their lives were not driven by the needs of the world and personal pursuits. Worship for them came from the Book and they wanted Ezra to bring the book. The hearts of the people longed to hear what was in the Law and how it could change their lives. They knew hope was found in the Book. How many times will God’s people come together to worship and not bring their own Book much less open the Book. The people in Ezra’s day asked for the Book.
THEY WANTED TO UNDERSTAND THE BOOK. The reading of the Book was not just to hear words read but to hear words change their lives. They brought their ears with them when they came to hear the message of the Book. Funny how often people leave their ears at home today. This new generation had itching ears for the words of God. Their hearts yearned to understand what the will of the Lord was and how their lives could be changed by the reading of the Book. This was the Berean spirit of knowledge.
THEY TOOK THE TIME TO HEAR THE MESSAGE. No padded pews. No air conditioning. No power-point. No shelter from the sun. No clocks to keep an eye on. Ezra read from morning until midday. No hurry to get back home to cook a roast. No plans to go shopping, work in the yard, play a round of golf or take a nap. They just stood there and listened. No one complained about how long the preacher read. They enjoyed the message of the Book. The stories from the Book thrilled their hearts.
THEY WERE ATTENTIVE TO THE BOOK. They knew why they were gathered. Their hearts wanted to learn about God. When Ezra read from morning until midday they paid attention to the reading. They thought about the story of creation and how God made His glory shine in the world. The stories of Noah and Abraham thrilled their hearts as they learned about grace, mercy, faith and obedience. When their own history of rebellion in the wilderness was read it saddened their hearts. They were especially keen to hear why their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had been sent to a captive land. They learned some hard lessons that day. They paid attention.
THEY SHOWED RESPECT TO THE BOOK. In a remarkable sign of respect when Ezra opened the book they stood up. What the preacher had in his hand was the story of God’s love for man. Standing upon the opening of the book showed to God their loyalty and respect for what worship meant to them. It was not a time of frivolous activities bidding the time until the preacher stopped preaching. Worship was a time to show respect. They announced the word of the Lord with “Amen” and bowed their faces.
Worship in six easy steps. We have much to learn about worship from these good people. Today is our day of worship. Let us gather as one man in the place of assembly and ask for the reading of the Book. Open the Book to understand what it says. Stop watching the clock and have burning hearts to hear the message of Jesus Christ. Show respect for worship for what it means. Praise God. Open the Book.