Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Neh 8:1 And the seventh month came: and the children of Israel were in their cities. And all the people were gathered together as one man to the street which is before the water gate, and they spoke to Esdras the scribe, to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. Neh 8:2 Then Esdras the priest brought the law before the multitude of men and women, and all those that could understand, in the first day of the seventh month. Neh 8:3 And he read it plainly in the street that was before the water gate, from the morning until midday, before the men, and the women, and all those that could understand: and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book. Neh 8:4 And Esdras the scribe stood upon a step of wood, which he had made to speak upon, and there stood by him Mathathias, and Semeia, and Ania, and Uria, and Helcia, and Maasia, on his right hand: and on the left, Phadaia, Misael, and Melchia, and Hasum, and Hasbadana, Zacharia and Mosollam. Neh 8:5 And Esdras opened the book before all the people: for he was above all the people: and when he had opened it, all the people stood. Neh 8:6 And Esdras blessed the Lord the great God: and all the people answered, Amen, amen: lifting up their hands: and they bowed down, and adored God with their faces to the ground. Neh 8:7 Now Josue, and Bani, and Serebia, Jamin, Accub, Sephtai, Odia, Maasia, Celtia, Azarias, Jozabed, Hanan, Phalaia, the Levites, made silence among the people to hear the law: and the people stood in their place. Neh 8:8 And they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and plainly to be understood: and they understood when it was read. Neh 8:9 And Nehemiah (he is Athersatha) and Esdras the priest and scribe, and the Levites who interpreted to all the people, said: This is a holy day to the Lord our God: do not mourn, nor weep: for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Neh 8:10 And he said to them: Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves: because it is the holy day of the Lord, and be not sad: for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
This day we are celebrating the National Bible Sunday which falls in the third Sunday after the epiphany. The story in our text tells us about the word of God preached by Nehemiah the Prophet, Esdras the priest, the Scribes and the Levites. Let us ponder on the following points that would probably answer the how, where, when, what, to whom of our text today.
I. The word of God preached as requested (vs1)
- all people
II. The word of God preached in a designated place (vs3)
- The street that was before the water gate where the people were gathered
III. The word of God preached in a particular span of time (vs3)
- From the morning until midday
IV. The word of God preached to a congregation (vs2)
- Children who were old enough to understand
V. The word of God preached with the people’s actuation and response
- They stood when the word was opened (vs5)
- They responded with voice and body actions (vs)
- Saying amen
- Hands lifted up
- Heads bowed down
- Faces to the ground
- They understood it when it was read and interpreted (vs8, 9)
- They wept
- They were challenged to share their blessings to those who have none (vs10).
We have learned valuable things from our ancestors when it comes to their submission to the word of God. They have fully accorded the respect to the preachers and the word of God preached to them.
This respect is not only to their mentors, teachers, and interpreters of the word of God but it is a respect to the God whom they were worshipping.
An orderly manner of being a participant to the community of worship is an indication of submission to God’s small voice by inclining one’s ear, mind and heart.
The people thirsted for the word of God and they cannot just tolerate it. God’s word is intolerable for it seeks its place in the minds and hearts of those who really give a place and time. After hearing the word of God, assimilating it into one’s life the challenge is to live it out. Apply it not only to one’s self but to others and that makes faith a reality and a learning concrete. God must be praised.