Summary: Starting in chapter 8, the people of Jerusalem band together to rebuild the city spiritually. The first thing to nitice is thier reverence and awe towards thier creator.
As we found last week as we looked at Nehemiah 7, the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. The main task that Nehemiah had set out to accomplish was complete. The work as a whole though was not finished. The people now had to come together to revive their relationships with God, restore the city and it’s buildings, revitalize the hope and joy to one another, and repopulate the city as it was large and spacious but the people were few.
As we explored what these tasks meant for the people, we switched the words a little bit and discovered that the mission and calling that these people had on their lives, are the same that we have in our lives, if we have a relationship with Christ. That is to be living to grow, serve, worship, and share.
Starting in chapter 8 and going until the end of the book, Nehemiah has recorded this process of the people living to grow, serve, worship, and share. He records how they changed their lives and rebuilt Jerusalem, not only physically, but more importantly, spiritually. It is this process that I want to begin looking at together tonight.
Please open your Bibles to Nehemiah 8:1-18.
***Read Nehemiah 8:1-18***
There is a lot in this passage that we just read and it’s going to take us a couple of weeks to really do justice to everything that is mentioned here. Before we look at the first lesson from this text, I want to point out something that is going to be extremely important each and every week from here on out. That is the first half of chapter 8, verse 1. It reads in the New Living Translation (NLT), “All the people assembled with a unified purpose.” In the New International Version (NIV), it reads “All the people assembled as one man.”
As I mentioned last week, from here on out in the book of Nehemiah, it is no longer Nehemiah making all the decisions and calling all the shots. It is the people of Jerusalem working together to bring about change and revival in the city. I can not stress enough, how important unity is in bringing about spiritual change. As we look specifically at the things the people of Jerusalem did to revive their city, it is so important to remember that they did everything together. We too, must follow that same suit.
So, to help us with our first lesson, I have a movie clip to show you guys from Fever Pitch.
***Play Fever Pitch clip***
As little Ben makes his way up the stairs of Fenway Park you can see his face begin to change as he takes in everything he is seeing; the beautiful green grass, the perfectly smoothed infield, and the Green Monster looming over him. He sees the seats of the ballpark full of people and can feel the excitement in the air. He sets eyes on greats like Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, and Ted Williams. (I know Teddy Ballgame was never on the field with these other guys, but somehow they are all in this movie clip). He doesn’t even know who these players are or fully understand what he is seeing but his eyes light up and a giant smile comes over his face. He is excited, maybe a little nervous or overwhelmed, and in complete awe of what is before him.
Whether this specific situation resonates within you or not, we have all had situations in our lives where we have stood in awe of something before us. Whether it was admiring something in nature such as a sunset or mountain top view, whether it has been visiting somewhere great such as Fenway Park, the White House, or some great place in another country, or whether it is admiring a work of art or an amazing play in sports; we have all been in awe of something in our lives.
What I think is happening less and less though, is having this sense of awe for God, the Creator of all things. As we live our lives, we forget how involved He is in everything we do. We diminish His power, turn a blind eye to His miracles that happen every day, and we belittle his greatness. We have turned God into a personal buddy that we can go to when we are in trouble or upset but yet we ignore the other half of God as a fierce, judgmental, and jealous King. People who are Jewish won’t even mention God’s name of Yahweh but yet we throw God’s name around like it is nothing!
Think about the scene of awe and respect that we read just a few moments ago starting in verse 4. Ezra, who would be similar to a pastor, took a Bible and stood up on a “high wooden platform” or stage. This was so that everyone could hear and see the Word of God being read. It wasn’t just any ordinary platform either, as we read that it was made specifically “for the occasion.” The people went out of their way to provide a venue for reading God’s Word.