Summary: A 32 week journey through the Bible. Inspired by Lucado and Frazee. This message focuses on the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem.
Rebuilding the Walls
March 13, 2011 - 21
Today is a big day, we are finishing up the OT portion of The Story. It’s been an incredible journey moving through the OT. In preaching class we were told never do a series more than 4-8 weeks long, because people will lose interest, but we’ve done a great job at the first 21 weeks of moving through the Bible. I want to thank you for your commitment to stick with it. To hang on during Sunday School as you talk about the same topics. Only 10 more weeks to go. Great job!!
Today, we’re looking at chapter 21 of The Story, and one of our main characters is a man named Ezra. He was a priest who helped gather the people together and told them he wanted them to listen very closely to what he’s about to say.
Let me give you a little bit of the setting. Thousands of people have returned from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem. 50,000 Israelites came back under the leadership of an Israelite named Zerubabbel to rebuild the temple. Then we had the story about the Israelites being saved in Persia, through Esther. And then two more groups of people returned, one group with Ezra the priest, and a final group with Nehemiah. His assignment was to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and around the temple.
The title of the chapter is rebuilding the walls. I don’t want to spend much time talking about the rebuilding, but want to talk about what this means in our lives. I don’t want to talk about the bricks and mortar as much as I want to talk about what happened inside those walls, which has incredible application to our lives.
If you’ve got your Story or Bible, turn to chapter 21 or Nehemiah 8. We’re going to be jumping around today, looking at lots of scripture. Ezra has gathered all of the people of Israel who have now returned from captivity as an assembly. We’re going to start with Nehemiah 8:1, or pages ~
1 All the people assembled with one accord in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law 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.
4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. 5 He 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 — 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 understood what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all,
“This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
140 have passed since the Israelites gathered together as one body. 140 years since they gathered like this, and the very words of God were opened. Those who were there, included the men, the women and all who could understand, which included the children. In addition to Ezra reading, there were Levites spread throughout the crowd who could answer questions and interpret these words of God.
The people were so overwhelmed at hearing and understanding God’s word. It stirred them up so much and they began to weep. So much so, that Nehemiah, Ezra and the other priests had to calm them down; and declared this was a holy day. What an incredible story. At the end of the day, they not only read the word, but they understood it for themselves.