Summary: #11 in the Nehemiah Series. If we truly want revival, we must first come back to the Word of God and allow it to change us and wash us.
Book of Nehemiah Series # 11
Getting Back to God’s Word
Nehemiah Chapter 8
By Pastor Jim May
Nehemiah 8:1-3, "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law."
The Jews that worked with Nehemiah have now rebuilt Jerusalem to the point that it was habitable and fairly comfortable. Most of the infrastructure had been rebuilt, homes and business places were in operation, and most of all those protective walls were completed. Now it was time to begin to rebuild a nation of God’s people, to teach them who they were and what they were to be as His Chosen Nation.
What we be witnessing as we study this chapter is a revival of enormous magnitude. It’s not a revival in the sense that most of us think of revivals. But it was a revival, a spiritual renewal, sent by God to bring His people back into the place where they could live again. Revivals are given for two reasons.
1)Revivals are sent to bring wayward sinners from a life of sin and death, into a new life, as we are Born Again by the Spirit of God.
2)They are sent to renew the spiritual life and power of those who are already Born Again but growing weak and cold in their walk with the Lord.
The main thing that brings a revival is that people are subjected to a greater measure of preaching and exposure to the Word of God than normal. When we hear the Word of God, and obey the Word of God in a measure that we have not done before, then there will be an awakening and a renewal of the presence, power and anointing of God within us.
In chapter 8 of Nehemiah, the walls are finished. Much of the manual labor is finished and the people are ready to move on with their lives. But the problem now is that there is a spiritual vacuum in Israel. Their stomachs were full, their days were filled with work, laughter and the joys of being free from the power of a Persian king, but there was an emptiness, something missing. What was it that was missing? It was the fact that God desired to have first place in their lives. They were still God’s Chosen Nation but it had been many years since they had given God the place in their lives that He desired to have. In fact, if they had put God first, they would never have lost Jerusalem, never have been led away in captivity, and would have enjoyed the blessings of God for the past 70 years instead of languishing as slaves in Babylon and Persia.
What a lesson this is for us today! It’s not enough to have well constructed buildings. It’s not enough to have the best music that we can have, and the best preaching in the world. If we don’t have the anointing of the Holy Ghost and the moving of God inside our hearts, and in our churches, then we are still empty and powerless.
When you find yourself like Israel, without the presence of God and without spiritual strength, how do you get it back? We must do like they did and get back to the Word of God.
The first thing we see is that all of the Jews who were once scattered throughout the Persian Empire as slaves were now a united people, coming together to wait on God at the Water Gate.
Do you remember what the Water Gate represented from our earlier lessons? In Scripture, water often represents the Word of God. The word of God was closely associated with the Water Gate. In our study of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness we saw that the Laver, filled with clear water, shining like a mirror, was standing before the Tabernacle and this Laver is also associated with the work that was completed at the Water Gate.
Now the Jews are coming to the Water Gate, to hear and be changed by the cleansing refreshing and reviving power of the word of God. They came to an open place before the Water Gate; a place where their ears were open to hear, their minds were open to understand, and their hearts were open for change. Is that how we come to hear the Word of the Lord right now. Are we coming, united and with an open mind and heart?