Summary: God’s Word is a powerful and transforming thing... and gives us the right platform for life.

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THE RIGHT PLATFORM: Breathing in God’s Word

Nehemiah 8:1-4

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. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion.

This is an amazing moment in their history… over 50-60 years of exile and captivity depending on when they were deported by the conquering Babylonians. After now 40-50000 of them returning to their home state… and then with the leadership of Ezra they rebuilt the temple… taking 46 years by some accounts. Then Nehemiah comes… last week we discussed them protecting the wall as they rebuilt it, and secured the city once again… an impossible task accomplished with the people in 52 days…

Jeremiah had prophesied that there would be 70 years of captivity and exile… now they were out… back home, the temple rebuilt… and now the walls back up… becoming a society once again…

And Nehemiah 8 comes about… the build a platform specifically for the occasion… and on purpose they are standing in the Watergate… a place where an underground stream goes to the temple to provide moving or living water for the priests to prepare themselves in for their duties.

And Ezra brings the book of the law to them… and for some…

• The first time in many years they get to hear the word

• Religious leaders, priests, politicians, artists, merchants, all the best and brightest were enslaved and taken from their homes to serve in the Babylonian capital. The Jews call these periods of their history the Babylonian Captivity, and the Exile.

• And during this Exile, during their captivity, many, if not most of the Jewish people lost touch with their scriptures and their way of life. Our passage from Nehemiah takes place a couple of generations later, after they are allowed to return home.

• At the Water Gate, the priest Ezra reads from a text which the people have not heard from in many, many years. Ezra reads the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, and as I said, for many of the survivors of the Captivity and Exile, it is the first time in decades they have heard these words. For their children and grandchildren it may have been the very first time they have heard this scripture.

• For others, it may have been the first time ever… born into captivity they have never known them as a separate society governing and functioning themselves…

This is the backdrop of our story today… the power of God’s word… our response to it… and our need for God’s word.


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