24 Sep

Scroll to the bottom for thoughts/discussion questions!

One-sentence summary: The book of the law is read before the people, and they repent and renew their covenant with the Lord.

All the people gather together "as one man" in the open square in Jerusalem, and they tell Ezra, the priest and scribe, to bring the book of the law of Moses. Ezra brings it before the people and reads from it in the open square from morning until midday before all who could understand, and everyone listens. He stands on a platform, and when he opens the book, the people stand. Ezra blesses the Lord, and the people answer, "Amen!" while lifting their hands, and they bow with their faces to the ground and worship Him. Also, Jeshua and the other Levites help the people understand the reading. Nehemiah the governor, Ezra, and the Levites who teach the people tell them that day is holy to the Lord and that they should not to mourn or weep, because the people had wept when they heard the words. He tells them to go their way and to eat and not sorrow. He tells them, "The joy of the Lord is your strength," and, "Be still, for the day is holy. Do not be grieved." The people go their way and rejoice because they understand the words that were said to them. On the second day, the heads of the fathers' houses with the priests and Levies are gathered to Ezra in order to understand the words of the law. They read how Israel should dwell in tents on the feast of the seventh month and how they should announce to all to gather branches to make booths as it is written. So the people do so on the roofs of their houses or in their courtyards and in the open squares. Since the days of Joshua, son of Nun, they had not done so, and there is very great gladness. Also, day by day, Ezra reads from the book of the law, and the all keep the feast seven days, and on the eighth day is a sacred assembly according to the prescribed manner.

When the children of Israel are assembled with fasting, sackcloth, and dust on their heads, they separate themselves from all foreigners, and they stand and confess their and their fathers' sins. They also read from the book of the law for one fourth of the day, and for another fourth, they confess and worship the Lord. Then, Jeshua and some other Levites cry out to the Lord with a loud voice. They tell the people to stand up and bless the Lord forever and ever. They praise Him and recount His deeds: He made everything, and the host of heavens worship Him. He made a covenant with Abraham and has has performed His words because He is righteous. He delivered His people from Egypt with signs and wonders and led them in the wilderness with a cloud by day and a fire by night. He came down from heaven to speak with them on the mountain, to make knows His laws and Sabbaths, by the hand of Moses. He gave them bread from heaven and water from the rock and told them to possess the land He promised to give them. Yet, they acted proudly, hardened their necks, did not listen, and refused to obey. They were not mindful of His wonders. They "appointed a leader to return to their bondage." But the Lord, being "ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness," did not forsake them, even when they made the golden calf. He still still led them in the wilderness with the cloud by day and fire by night. He gave His Spirit to instruct them and kept feeding them with manna and giving them water. For forty years, they lacked nothing, and their clothes did not wear out. He gave them kingdoms and multiplied them as the stars of heaven and brought them into the land He promised. He fought for them in the land and gave them victory. They possessed houses already made, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate and were filled and grew fat and delighted in the Lord's great goodness. Yet, they were disobedient and rebelled and cast His law behind their backs and killed His prophets who testified against them to turn them back to the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Yet, in the time of their trouble, the Lord heard from heaven and gave them deliverers. After they had rest, they did evil again, so the Lord left them in their enemies' hands. Yet, when they returned and cried out, He delivered them again, many times, attempting to bring them back to His law. They acted proudly and did not listen to His commands but sinned against His judgments, "which if a man does, he shall live by them." They "shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear." Yet, the Lord had patience with them for many years and sent His prophets to them. They still would not listen, so He gave them into the hands of the peoples of the land. However, in His great mercy, He did not completely consume or forsake them, because He is gracious and merciful. Therefore, Jeshua and the Levites ask the Lord not to let their troubles seem small before Him- those that have come on them from the days of the Kings of Assyria until this. He acknowledges the Lord has been just and dealt faithfully with them, and that they have done wickedly, not keeping His law or listening to His commands or turning from their wicked ways. They acknowledge that they are in the land as servants, with the fruit of the land being given to the kings the Lord has set over them, because of their sins. The kings also have dominion over their bodies and cattle, and they are in distress. Therefore, they are making a covenant with the Lord. The leaders, Levites, and the priests seal it.

Nehemiah places his seal on the document, along with many other leaders, Levites, and priests. The rest of the people, the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, Nethinim, and "all those who had separated themselves from the people of the land to the law of God," along with their wives and children- whoever has knowledge and understanding- joins with the nobles and enters into "a curse and an oath" to walk in God's law that was given to Moses and to do all His commands. They will not intermarry with the peoples of the land, and if the people bring grain to sell on the Sabbath, they will not buy it, or on any holy day. Every seven years, they will let the land rest and cancel all debts. They also make ordinances to pay tithes for the Lord's house. They cast lots among the priests, Levites, and people for bringing wood offerings to the house of God at appointed times, year by year as is written in the law, and they make ordinance to bring the first fruit of the ground and the fruit of trees year by year into the Lord's house- and also their firstborn sons and cattle and flocks, to the priests. They will bring the first fruits of everything, the new wine and oil, to the storerooms of the house of the Lord. They will pay tithes to the Levites, and they will bring one tenth to the Lord's house, to the rooms of the storehouse. In this way, they will not neglect the house of the Lord. 

Thoughts/discussion questions:

The Lord is always ready to pardon; we simply need to take one step toward Him.

The joy of the Lord is your strength! Where do you need more energy? Ask the Lord for more joy!

* The email will not be published on the website.