Summary: God’s Word needs to have a very important role in our lives. We need to make an effort to read it, really hear it and understand it, and then put it into practice.
Tonight I wanted to start off by talking about that well known fact that men don’t do directions of any kind. If you have ever wondered why men can’t ask for directions I have the answer for you here tonight. Just watch…
***Play commercial clip of man asking woman for directions to be met with pepper spray and a taser gun***
Obviously that clip isn’t real and I would hope that nothing like that has ever happened. Although, knowing some of the crazy things that go on in today’s world, you never know. Nevertheless, the issue of guys with not reading, asking for, or using directions happens every day.
The classic example that has probably been used more recently than others is the Christmas gift that needs to be assembled. Commercials use this idea year after year.
The scene starts out with a Dad and a bunch of parts, usually a bike for some reason. The directions are left on the table because “the man doesn’t need directions.” Out come the tools and the man gets to work. Part after part begins to be put “in place” and before you know it the bike is finished, the dad stands back to admire his work and then heads off to bed.
The scene then switches to morning, as a little boy sits up in bed realizing that it’s Christmas. He runs in to his parent’s room all excited and wakes them up so they can go see what Santa brought. The boy runs down the stairs, gets to the bottom and then just stops and stares. Before him, sits a beautiful red bike with a bell and everything. He runs to it, hops on and begins to ride it around the room. Within seconds though, the bike falls apart as he is riding it and the boy ends up on the floor crying.
This is what happens when we don’t follow directions for things most of the time. Often, if someone does not follow directions and succeeds, it is because they had prior knowledge and know how on building bikes. We could have used a similar story when it comes to following directions such as cooking, driving, or any other example we could think of.
The other issue I want to talk about tonight when it comes to not following directions is something that not only men, but women as well struggle with. That is reading the directions that come to us in form of the Bible. Sometimes the Bible is called “Life for Dummies” or “Directions for Life” but yet so often we ignore what it says and choose to try it on our own. We think, “We don’t need God or the Bible, I got it. You know, I am a human being. It’s second nature to live. I can figure it out on my own”
But yet, just like the bike, when we ignore the directions and do it ourselves, eventually things are going to fall apart and not work properly because we didn’t follow the directions. This is the exact same thing that the men and women of Jerusalem learned in Nehemiah 8:1-18.
***Read Nehemiah 8:1-18***
Before we jump into the text and what it teaches us about God’s Word, the Bible, it is important to understand some history of the people of Jerusalem. Before the people came back to the city, they were living in Babylon as slaves. Years before, King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians came and attacked the people and city of Jerusalem. The reason for all of this was because the people refused to follow the directions that God had laid out for them.
2 Chronicles 36:11-16 tells us of the last king who reigned before the Babylonians attacked. His name was Zedekiah and the Bible tells us that “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and ignored the prophet Jeremiah’s warnings. At that time, the priests and the people also turned their backs on God and began following other religious traditions. They too, ignored and mocked the prophets that God sent to warn them. Finally, in the end, verse 16 tells us that “God’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.” Thus the book of 2 Chronicles ends with the Babylonian’s attack and the fall of Jerusalem. If the people had listened and followed God’s directions, none of that would have ever happened.
Now, back in Jerusalem, the people turn back to God and do what they should have done 70 years earlier.
The first thing they did was what any person needs to do in order to understand directions. That is to read them. As we talked about last week, all the people came together “as one person” and asked Ezra, the priest, to read the Word of God to them. As Ezra opened the book, all the people stood in respect and awe for God and prepared themselves to listen.