Summary: The Bible is our necessary food. It is always relevant.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-12
For 70 years, under captivity in Babylon, the people did not have access to the Scriptures, the Book of the Law mentioned here.
• That’s the Torah (the Pentateuch), the first 5 books of the OT penned down by Moses.
• It was the expression of God’s plan and will for Israel, especially.
Being refugees, they have not been reading or hearing it for a long time.
• Whatever they know of God and their faith, comes only from their memories at best.
• By this time, they had probably forgotten far more than what they remembered.
• The reading rekindled their thoughts of God and reminded them of their past experiences with Him.
They were moved to tears, just hearing His Word.
• Martin Luther: “The Scriptures is a lighter that kindles the fire in my heart.”
• Can we have such an experience? Yes, when we open our heart to His Word.
Ezra the scribe stood on a specially-made platform and when he opened the book, the people stood up.
• It was not the book they were honouring, obviously. They were honouring the VOICE of God.
• They recognised it as the voice of God. God speaks through the Scriptures.
• 2 Tim 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (That’s the best translation). It is the breath of God! God speaks and He is speaking this very minute.
We have to remind ourselves this – don’t approach the Bible as an academic study.
• God speaks. God speaks to reveal Himself. We want to connect personally to God.
• We can study the original languages, the context, the history, the culture… but ultimately, our goal is to know God and His will for us.
The Bible is not an end in itself; it reveals God. It is not spiritual knowledge we are after. It is God we are after.
• The Bible is God’s chosen instrument of self-revelation. It did not become the Word of God; it IS the Word of God!
Let me share with you this interesting exchange between Philip and Jesus.
• Philip was among the twelve apostles who have been listening to the teachings of Jesus. To him probably, the teachings were doctrines or some spiritual knowledge.
• At one point in John 14:6, Jesus said to them, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
• 14:8 Philip responded, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
We have been hearing you quite a bit. Just show us God. That will be enough for us.
• Jesus’ reply was like, “What do you think I’ve been doing?”
• 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
The Word that you have been hearing, that’s Him! The Word that we have been reading, studying, and memorising, that’s Him!
• The Bible does not contain the Word of God. It is the Word of God. We encounter Him when we engage the Word.
Don’t fall for the same mistake that the Pharisees and scribes made in Jesus’ time.
• They had the knowledge of the Law but not the Law-Giver. They missed the intent of the Law.
• Don’t study the Bible for spiritual knowledge sake. The study the Bible for the bible sake.
• Go one step further. The Bible points to the One who inspires it, who speaks it.
Can I meet God some other way apart from the Bible?
• Through looking at creation itself, Rom 1:20 says we ought to know that God exist. But that’s not a clear revelation.
• God has chosen the Bible to be the primary way He reveals Himself. That’s the main course.
• The rest are garnish. Signs and wonders are the desserts. But we cannot rely on them to know God. We need to go for the main course.
THE BIBLE IS OUR NECESSARY FOOD
The Word of God brings conviction. The people wept as they listened to the words.
• And they responded in obedience to what they heard. The second part of Chapter 8 tells us they heeded the Word and held the Feast of the Tabernacles.
• Which was commanded in the Law as a way for the people to remember God’s provision in their journey through the wilderness.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He enlightens and brings conviction when the truth of God’s Word is read, or proclaimed.