Summary: The Joy of the Lord is our strength. In this message we look at how to find it again.
“The Source of our Strength”
So we come to our final message in this 7 week series on Biblical leadership. And I hope that you have gained some new insights on this topic. For me, in these 7 weeks God has shown me at least 7 big truths and I want to briefly remind you of these as we get started today.
(1) More than anything leadership is defined as influence. If you want to know what kind of leader someone is you must ask, how much influence do they have? How much influence do you have?
(2) Leadership begins with a burden. Leadership is not about power, rather it is about helping people grow.
(3) A promotion is a good thing, but only if you are ready for it. Leadership is not always as attractive as it may appear.
(4) Leaders are not exempt from discouragement. However, they must learn to overcome it or their ability to lead will be greatly diminished.
(5) Planning is an extremely valuable tool used by the Holy Spirit. God honors a plan.
(6) Every leader must learn to handle money properly. God is pleased when we handle money wisely.
(7) There is no substitute for character. Character counts more than anything. Nothing matters more.
These are what I consider to be 7 big truths and I will give you one more today.
In our story, Ezra has now stepped on the scene. Along with his caravan, Ezra has now arrived in Jerusalem. In the two months that follow the people are now getting settled in Judea. Now all the people come together and as the NIV says, they assembled as one man. Showing unity. They came together in the square, right in front of the Water Gate. We believe this gate was located outside the walls. There were ten separate gates – used for different reasons and we think they were laid out in this fashion.
Now Ezra was a scribe. That was his occupation and he was highly respected. It was his job to write down that which was handed down orally. Their work was more than important. Not just anyone could be trusted with this responsibility. The scripture tells us this happened in the 7th month. There were 3 major events that would have taken place that month including the Day of Atonement. IN addition the OT writings commanded the people to gather once every 7 years for the reading of the law “so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord and carefully follow all the words of the law. “ Ezra likely had this very commandment in mind when he called for the people to assemble that day.
v. 3 Tells us that they met in the Town square before the Water Gate and they read the scripture for about 6 hours. From daybreak till noon. Can you imagine? It’s interesting that rather than meeting in the temple where the altar and the sacrifices were, they met in the Town Square. It was not the building, it was God’s word that carried the authority of the day. Still does.
v. 4 says they built a wooden platform so that Ezra could be heard better. They could also see him better. The Bike was given a place of honor and respect.
In v. 5, to show respect for the reading of God’s word they all stood as the word was read for about 6 hours. Now what I haven’t mentioned is the great crowd who was present and how this was carried out. Ezra stood on this platform; it was his soapbox; it was his pulpit to speak from. Although he possibly could have read the entire Pentateuch that day – it would be speed reading – I think it’s more likely that he read selected passages. There were 13 Levites assisting him and Nehemiah. It appears that the Levites circulated among the people to explain what Nehemiah was reading. The scripture says it was made clear and the people understood what was being read. V. 8.
Then Ezra says something very interesting. V.9. An amazing thing happens when God’s word is read and it is that people begin weeping because they are convicted of sin. Btw the list is given in chapter 7 and the number of people is 49,942. The writer of Hebrews 4:12-13 says “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword. Everything is laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
When you heart is pierced by God’s word it may move you to tears. It cuts to the quick and it will be painful and Nehemiah tells us that in v. 9 that the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. This is not the last time someone has cried in church. Sometimes people bring their baby and the babies cry but this was adults. My wife and I toured a church locally this week and the person giving us the tour said this is where the cry room used to be … Some churches still have them. Or there is often a bench/pew called a mourner’s bench. Three times in the Bible we see that professional mourners were called in --- it wasn’t a requirement that you even know the deceased.