Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Rejoice in the Word

December 19, 2013

I would like to begin by giving a brief review of the history of the nation of Israel.  Abraham, Isaac and Israel are considered the patriarchs, or founders of the nation.  Israel and his twelve sons, who were the namesakes of the twelve tribes of Israel went to Egypt during a time of famine.  Their descendents stayed in Egypt for five hundred years.  Moses was sent by God to bring the people out of Egypt.  They spend forty years in the wilderness, and then entered the promised land.  In the beginning, judges, who were raised up by God, ruled over the land.  Then the people asked for a king.  There were only three kings before the country split into the Northern Kingdom, also called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, also called Judah.  Various kings ruled for many years.  The Northern Kingdom from the very beginning was not faithful to God, and they were conquered by the Assyrians.  The Southern Kingdom had some godly, and some ungodly kings.  They too, fell away from God and were conquered by the Babylonians, and deported.  After seventy years in exile, they were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  Nehemiah was a leader who did not return with the original group, but he did come to help the Jewish people rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  Today’s message takes place during the dedication of the wall.

Nehemiah 8:8-12

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

I.  They Read the Word

In chapter 9:3 we are told that they read for a fourth of the day.  That would be three hours of reading.  Now, we recognize that those times were very different from today.  Not everyone was able to read, and certainly only a few copies of the law were available.  So it was a big deal to hear the Word of God read.  We are told in the verses above that they also helped the people to understand what was read to them.

We too, should appreciate the opportunity that we have to read the Word.  There are many tools available to help us better understand what we read.  It is good for us to read, study, and discuss the Word of God.

II. They Responded to the Word

The people initially responded with mourning.  They recognized as the Word was read to them, just how far they had fallen from obedience to the commandments of God.  They recognized their guilt and were repentant for their sins.

They also responded with obedience.  They realized that they were in the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and they followed the commandments of the law.  It had been many, many years since that feast had been correctly observed by the community of Jews.

We too, should respond to the Word with repentance and obedience.  We are not simply to read the Word and be unchanged.  We are to allow the Word of God, and the Spirit of God to have a life-changing impact on our lives.

III.  They Rejoiced in the Word

As they understood the implications of the Word for their lives, they rejoiced.  God had given them another opportunity to live as the people of God.  They were also told that the joy of the Lord was to be their strength.

We too, can rejoice as we understand the Word of God.  Certainly we also, can recognize that the joy of the Lord is our strength as well.  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, it is found in the presence of God.  The joy that God gives is not dependent on external circumstances, but is dependent on the presence of God in our lives.  And God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Read the Word.

Respond to the Word.

Rejoice in the Word.

These are the sermon notes from 12/8/15.  You are welcome to make comments or ask questions.

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