This page is a daily devotion. It will study a chapter of the Bible for 5 days one section at a time. Then it will move on to another chapter for 5 days. Included is a verse to memorize.
Nehemiah chapter 8
Memory verse: Nehemiah 8:8-10
The reading of the law
Day 1 – public reading of the scripture
The people gathered themselves together in the street near one of the gates of Jerusalem, and asked Ezra to bring the Bible. This meeting was not called by the leaders, but by the people. They wanted to hear the scriptures. They brought their children to hear them together as a family. They got up at dawn to do this. Ezra read the scriptures from dawn until noon (morning means when the sun started shining). Everyone paid attention the whole time. No one was texting, talking, wandering in the halls, hanging out in the fellowship hall, doing homework, etc. No one was complaining it was too early or too long. They were not criticizing the delivery or the messenger. Their minds were not somewhere else. They were hungry. “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet (Proverbs 27:7).” “More to be desired are they (the scriptures) than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb (Psalm19:10). Although this event took place in Jerusalem, the Jews were actually in the minority. The city had been conquered by Babylon about 150 years earlier, and the return of the Jews was still in its earlier stages. There were many Gentiles now living in the area, and some of them were enemies of the re-establishment of the Jewish people, their city, their temple, and their walls. It took courage to have a public display of their faith. Joshua read the entire law of Moses to the people (Joshua 8:35). They read the scriptures in the days of Josiah (2Kings 22). The book of Jeremiah was read publicly (Jeremiah 36). America is becoming increasingly hostile towards God, the Bible, and Christians. Although this nation was built on the Bible, it is moving off of its foundation. The first amendment guarantees that the government cannot interfere with the God-given right of freedom of religion, but the Constitution has been turned on its head, and is being outright ignored. How hungry are you for the Bible? Are you willing to publicly declare who are, who you believe in, and what you believe?
Day 2 – the preeminence of the scripture
Ezra’s pulpit was not like today’s. It was a tower or elevated stage. This served a practical purpose of helping everyone hear the Word, but it also made a clear statement. They gave the scriptures the highest place in this meeting. They built this pulpit just for this meeting. It is important to honor the man of God who delivers us the Word (1Timothy 5:17), but it is even more important to honor the Word by doing it. Jesus constantly affirmed the supreme value of the scriptures (Matthew 5:17-20, Matthew 8:4, Matthew 12:3-5, Matthew 19:4, Matthew 21:16 & 42, Matthew 22:29 & 31, Matthew 23:2-3, Mark 12:26, Luke 4:16, Luke 16:29-31, John 5:39 & 46). The whole purpose of his life, teaching, death, and resurrection was to fulfill the scriptures (Matthew 26:54-56, Mark 15:28, Luke 4:21, Luke 24:25-46, John 13:18, John 17:12, John 19:24, John 19:28, John 19:36, Acts 1:16). He was the Word made flesh (John 1:1-3 & 14). The apostles quoted scriptures in their preaching. We should read the Bible daily (Isaiah 34:16, Matthew 6:11, John 5:39). The king of Israel was to read daily (Deuteronomy 17:19). The Ethiopian eunuch was reading the Bible when Philip met him (Acts 8:28). The churches were to share the epistles (Colossians 4:16). The Bible says to read it 54 times. Any “revelation” which does not harmonize with scripture is to be disregarded (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 13, Proverbs 30:5-6, Galatians 1:6-9, Revelation 22:18-19). The Bible IS the revelation. We will never exhaust it in our lifetimes.
Day 3 – the value of teaching
Some consider preaching to be more exciting or inspirational than teaching because the delivery is usually louder and faster. There is nothing in the Bible about loud and fast delivery. Excitement is not in the criteria for preachers or Christians. We live in an overly entertained society. It is not the church’s job to compete with the secular entertainment industry. People that come to church to be entertained are not there for the right reasons. Church is not to be boring, but people who find the Word of God boring are finding Him boring. God teaches (Exodus 4:12 & 15, 1Kings 8;36, Psalm 25:8-9 & 12, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 132:12, Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 28:9, Isaiah28:26, Jeremiah 32:33, Micah 4:2, Luke 12:12, John 14:26, 1John 2:27). Jesus taught as a main feature of His ministry (Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 11:1, Matthew 21:23, Matthew 26:55, Mark 4:1, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:31, Luke 5:17, Luke 13:10, Luke 22:37, Luke 23:5, Acts 1:1). He gave the church the gift of teachers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15)”. The apostles taught verbally and in writing. Teaching is how Christians mature, “teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28)”.
Day 4 – let’s have a party
The people started crying when they heard the word. This would seem like a good thing to do. Israel had been in rebellion against God. They had provoked His wrath to the point their land was invaded and destroyed. It would seem that some remorse would be in order. However, they had already repented. That is why they were back in their homeland. They had rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. They had been sacrificing for the kingdom. They had been standing against the enemy. They had called for this meeting out of their desire to be right with God. Yet when they heard the word, their emotional response was still one of tears. Their conscience was still troubling them. The leaders stopped them, and told them not be sorry or grieved. They told them to go and have a party. So they “went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them”. They had party to celebrate that they understood the Bible. Could you imagine that? “I’m calling to invite you to a party.” “Thanks. What is it about?” “I read the Bible, and understood it!” “Great. Should I bring anything?” “Yes. Bring your Bible.”
Day 5 – the feast of tabernacles kept
There were 3 main feasts the Israelites were to gather for and keep each year: the Passover, the feast of weeks also known as Pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-17, Deuteronomy 16:16, 2Chronicles 8:13). The feast of tabernacles was a remembrance of the wilderness journey (Leviticus 23:34-44, Deuteronomy 16:13-15). They were to make booths like brush arbors, and live in them for a week. Today it is called Sukkot, which means booths. The only 2 times this feast is mentioned after Moses in the old testament is during the days of Solomon (2Chronicles 8:13), and here (Ezra 3:4). There is actually little reference throughout the old testament of the keeping of the feasts. There are only 6 passovers, no pentecosts, no days of atonement, no feasts of trumpets, and no feasts of ingathering. The only other reference to the feast of tabernacles is in John 7. In the seventh day of the feast, Jesus offered the gift of the Holy Ghost, and described it as rivers of living water flowing out of our innermost being (John 7:37-39). The Lord only gave us one thing to commemorate – His death through communion (Luke 22:19, 1Corinthians 11:24-25). It is interesting that there are no artifacts from the new testament. It could be God did not want them to become idols like the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:8-9, 2Kings 18:4, John 3:14). We should have milestones and testimonies of what God has done for us, but we should not be stuck in the past. Some people are stuck in the bad of their past. Some people are stuck in the good of their past. We are to be continually moving forward into new places and experiences in our walk with God. We cannot live on yesterday’s blessing. Yesterday’s manna was not to be kept. They were to get fresh manna each day (Exodus 16).