Summary: Big living means setting aside special moments to worship and to re-calibrate our lives according to God’s word.
Introduction: They did a lot of things right when they founded America, but as a country we started over with holidays. I’m not sure that was so smart.
Countries in Europe have been hanging on to their holidays for centuries. The right calendar will give you some of them: Bank Holiday; All Saints Day; St. Stephen’s Day; Day of Reformation. Boxing Day – those Europeans, they like their holidays. But we Yanks, we streamlined life. From the start we were too busy building a country, exploring the frontier and fighting Indians to take many days off.
We’ve been wisely adding them along the way. In fact, there are even many lesser-known holidays you can celebrate if you just find out about them:
• Jan 21st – National Hugging Day
• Aug. 8 – National Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch night
• Aug. 13 – National Blame Someone Else Day
• Sep. 5 – National Be Late for Something Day
• Oct 11-15 – National Pet Peeve Week
• Oct 13 -- National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day
But, as a whole, we’ve cut down on our “holidaying” in the USA.
Israel knew about holidays. They had a lot of them, and most of them came by direct order from God: “You will celebrate this feast.” There were at least 8 feasts the Jews celebrated every year. Even the land got some time off – every 7th year a field had to lie fallow.
Why? Because God knows the value of rest to His creation. He knows that in the busyness of life, when life gets BIG, we need sometimes to BIG back by taking a big pause.
Let’s consider this principle of Sabbath. When He took the 7th day off work, God didn’t need the rest! But He knew we’d need to understand it, so He set a divine precedent when He took off 1 day out of 7 and stopped work.
Jesus set the same precedent when He was on earth. He reminded the Pharisees that the Sabbath was “made for man.”
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to [the disciples], “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
The point is simply that God knows us and knows that we need to take pauses in life to get things in line again.
Ill – Instruments and indicators have to go through what’s called recalibration. Airplane controls have to be reset, scales have to be set to zero, musical instruments have to be retuned. All of these have to be recalibrated – they have to be adjusted for their circumstances, to make sure they’re reading, playing, and weighing like they should be.
BIG living means setting aside special moments to worship and to re-calibrate our lives according to God’s word. Remember, Nehemiah’s not just rebuilding broken walls. He’s rebuilding broken people. They’ve strayed from God. They’ve been weakened and shamed. There are a lot of things that have been knocked over in Israel. Sound familiar?
Life is BIG. And the times present us with the need to “come apart”; to “set aside”; to take a BIG pause. Let’s look at what Israel set aside…
I. Set Aside Special Moments for Worship (8:1-3)
Seems like the book would be fine it would just end after the wall was finished. 6:15 “So the wall was completed on the 25th of Elul, in 52 days.” The end.
But this isn’t just about walls. In fact, within a week or less, we find something else going on.
Nehemiah 8:1 (NIV)
all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
The mortar’s still green. People have just moved on back into the city and are getting re-settled, and they have an assembly. They set aside a special moment to worship the Lord.
Look who’s there. “All the people assembled as one man.” Now, I don’t know if that means it was very crowded, if they had a great unity about them, if there was a certain singleness of purpose, or maybe all of the above. What I do know is that everyone was there except for the nursery and Jr. Church!