Summary: Changing not jsut the outward but having our spiritual lives renewed
From Physical Rebuilding to Spiritual Renewal
Intellectual Response – Nehemiah 8:1-8
Know your Need
Know the Word
Emotional Response – Nehemiah 8:9-12
Volitional Response – Nehemiah 8:13 -18
This week, I finally got to wear this blue striped shirt that I bought about 5 months ago. It is long sleeved and it does not go with all of the pants I own. As it cooled off, I wore it with a pair of jeans.
It felt really good. I love wearing something new.
It really affects, at least for the short term, how I feel that day.
Now I know that even though I was wearing a new shirt, I was still the same person and that additional feeling of confidence was not going to continue unless something changed on the inside of me.
Now while in the short term, the way a person or situation looks can be different from reality, in the long term you cannot maintain that discrepancy.
external will change back to match the internal or
there will be some change internally.
Nehemiah has helped the Israelites have that new clothes feeling by rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.
That wall has given those in the surrounding communities a different perspective of the Israelites now also.
16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
They recognized that something was going on with the Israelites. God was doing something there.
Had a Wall before
But, the Israelites had a wall before and then they fell into disobedience and disgrace.
A new wall, a set of new clothes, would not be the answer for the Israelites for the long term. It may help in the short term for them to see that things can be different, but something else needed to be going on as well.
They needed some internal reconstruction.
They needed to be moving from Physical Reconstruction to Spiritual Renewal.
It is the Spiritual Renewal that is going to be able to sustain the reality of what has occurred on the outside.
Building the Wall helped show them that change was possible and that God was working and that He could work in their lives beyond just rebuilding a wall, He could rebuild them!
We are continuing on in our Nehemiah study to see just what God did through Nehemiah to initiate this change in the people.
With the Wall now complete, Nehemiah was not yet through with the Vision that the Lord had given him.
The vision was to remove the disgrace of the people of Israel.
This would be symbolized in the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. But now the wall was complete, but Nehemiah knew that the wall alone could not restore the people from their disgrace just as a new shirt doesn’t change the person.
So what does Nehemiah do?
He calls on Ezra, the priest.
Ezra book named for him too.
Brought back people from captivity also.
13 years earlier.
Ezra brought out the book of the Law of Moses and they gathered and he taught from the word of God.
As I go through this passage I want to take a look at how the people responded so that we can see how we should respond so that we can experience Spiritual renewal.
Let’s read Nehemiah ch. 8. It is on page 346-347 of the pew Bibles.
8:1 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.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
In honor of this passage in Nehemiah, I am going to preach for 6 hours straight. JK.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites-Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah-instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.