Continuing our look through the book of Nehemiah. This week Chris Hughes will be focusing on chapter eight.
“Bring out the Bible” was the cry of the people now safely ensconced behind the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem. They desperately wanted their community to be built upon the Word of God. If only that were the cry of the church today – “bring out the Bible.” Sadly it is not, often due the poor standard of preaching in the pulpit, as well as the poor standard of listening in the pew!
But it was the cry of the people of Nehemiah’s day because they wanted their renewed community to be based on the word of God. Their attitude teaches us five essential attitudes towards God’s Word:-
1 – Read the Word (v 3 – 4.)
“Bring out the Bible” cried the people, and so standing on a specially erected platform Ezra – “read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” A marathon session, yet –“all the people listened attentively”
The church needs to cry “bring out the Bible” because it needs to be read publically (1 Timothy 4 v 13) and listened to carefully because it is the very word of God (1 Thessalonians 2 v 13.)
2 – Respect the Word (v 5 – 6.)
“Bring out the Bible” cried the people, and when this happened, their responded in a variety of respectful ways. They “stood up;” they “lifted their hands;” they cried “Amen, Amen;” and then they “bowed down and worshipped the Lord.”
The church needs to cry “bring out the Bible” that it might display its respect for the authority and inspiration of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3 v 16) with a view to encountering the Lord of the Word in the Word of the Lord.
3 – Receive the Word (v 7 – 8.)
“Bring out the Bible” cried the people, and when Ezra paused from time to time in his reading, the Levites mingled among the crowd – “instructing the people in the Law” by making it “clear” explaining the “meaning” and in small groups “helping them to understand.”
The church needs to cry “bring out the Bible” so that it might be received and understood (Acts 8 v 30) hence the importance of the thoroughly unspectacular, but crucially important teaching ministry in the church (Acts 2 v 42.)
4 – Rejoice in the Word (v 9 – 12.)
“Bring out the Bible” cried the people, and in the light of its teaching they began to mourn and weep, only to be told that on this occasion a more appropriate response was to “celebrate with great joy.”
The church needs to cry “Bring out the Bible” that it might rejoice greatly in the truth of God’s Word (Psalm 19 v 8 & Psalm 119 v 62) as it uncovers the riches of its precious buried treasure.
5 – Respond to the Word (v 13 – 18.)
“Bring out the Bible” cried the people, that having heard it they might obey it. And having read and understood it they discovered that they had been neglecting the historical Feast of Tabernacles. So they immediately re-launched the feast by living in tents on the top of the flat roofs of their Jerusalem homes.
The church needs to cry “Bring out the Bible” not that it might pass an opinion on it; or decide whether or not it likes what it hears; but that it might respond in obedience (Matthew 7 v 24 – 27 & John 14 v 15.) The Bible is not just about information; it is also about transformation.
Challenge – How hungry are you for God’s word today? Is the cry of your heart – “bring out the Bible?”
Theme: “Bring out the Bible”
Reading: Nehemiah 8
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Marion Brenchley