Because They Had Understood.

Series: Dirt | Week 2: Hard-Hearted

Day Four Nehemiah 8:1-12

1 “All the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey. 2 So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. . . 5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet. 6 Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, ‘Amen! Amen!’ as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 The Levites. . .then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, ‘Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.’ For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 And Nehemiah continued, ‘Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!’ 11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, ‘Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.’ 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Nehemiah 8:1-12 (NLT)

1. This is a long passage, but take some time to read it carefully, picturing the scene in your mind as you do.
2. Highlight or underline all the places you see the words ‘understood’ and ‘understand.’
3. How do the people react to the public reading of God’s Word in verses 9 and 12?

Have you ever had this kind of emotional response to understanding God’s Word? Just as Jesus emphasized the importance of hearing and understanding God’s Word, so does this Old Testament story written hundreds of years before Jesus. The Word of God is spiritually discerned, not intellectually discerned. Spend a few minutes now examining your own approach to God’s Word compared to the people in Nehemiah 8. Ask God to help you prepare your heart before you read it, ask the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and understanding as you read it, and then ask God for the power to respond in a way that brings Him glory after you read it.

For Further Reading: Enduring Word Commentary on Nehemiah 8

For Families with Kids at Home
Notice at the end of this passage, the people were full of great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them. Today, reflect on the emotional temperature of your family: would you describe it as one of “great joy”? If not, ask God to give you the joy of His salvation and to help your family find joy together this week.

*TPCC does not necessarily endorse all For Further Reading/Learning sources. They are simply meant to be a helpful tool.