Summary: The Word of God transforms. It brings conviction and joy. Do not undermine the intake of God's Word. Cultivate a respect for His Word.
RECAP last week's message – Rebuilding the People of God
(1) Watch Your Character. Nehemiah chose people who are faithful and fear God. Your greatest ability is dependability.
(2) Remember Your Identity. Nehemiah organised the people and reinstated the worship of God among the people. This is what made the nation, a nation under God; this is what made them the people of God.
The Lord says, “Let My people go, to that they may worship Me.”
• You must worship God, not just on Sundays but every day of your life, because that defines you. We are worshippers of God.
• Rom 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.”
• Worship is more than music and songs on a Sunday; it is an offering of our lives. [See Clip]
[Read Neh 8:1-12]
Rom 12:2 — "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
• How can we renew our mind today? The same way that God’s people renewed their minds in the time of Nehemiah: through the Word of God.
• If you need to change things in your life, those changes will come through knowledge of the Word of God.
If you have a new DVD player and it’s not working properly, what would you do? You should read the instructions.
The Bible is God’s instruction book for our lives.
• The people have to get back to the Scriptures.
• 2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
For 70 years, under captivity in Babylon, the people did not have access to the Scriptures, the Book of the Law mentioned here.
• This is the Torah (the Pentateuch), the first 5 books of the OT penned down by Moses. It reveals to them the plan and will of God.
• But as captives, for 70 years they have not heard from it. Whatever they knew of their faith and God came from memory or the words passed down from others.
• By this time, they had forgotten far more than they remembered about God’s will and God’s ways. They wanted to know God’s will and purposes for them.
Ezra the scribe stood on a specially-made platform and when he opened the book, the people stood up.
• That was how much they honoured God’s Word and longed for it.
• The people worshipped God and then Ezra read the Scripture from daybreak to noon.
The Word brought conviction. The people wept as they listened to the words of the Law (v.9)
• The more they heard the more they realized just how much they had strayed from the will of God, how disobedient they had been.
• Their failure was evident. Their guilt was obvious and they felt it deeply. They wept in sorrow.
• This sorrow was good sorrow – it led to repentance. It directs them back to the right path.
They responded in obedience to the Word.
• 2nd part of Chapter 8, we read that they got to realise that they were supposed to remember the goodness of God in the Feast of the Tabernacles (which was to be celebrated in the 7th month, on the 15th day to 21st day, 1 week).
• This was to remember how God provided for them in the wilderness living in tents, after they left Egypt.
So the people responded immediately and got everything organised and celebrated this Feast.
Neh 8:16-17 “So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.”
Only the Word of God can do that. It brings CONVICTION. It has the power to TRANSFORM lives.
• I believe we have glimpses of this because we too experience it. We have ever been touched by God’s Word, convicted by it, comforted by it, motivated by it, and encouraged by it.
• Prophet Isaiah says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:10-11)