Summary: God brings revival into people when they have their hearts prepared through involvement with prayer and the Word of God.
A. On a bright and clear morning in July of 1982, two amateur prospectors were dredging for gold in a cold California river.
1. Mike Astle was in the river and had on a wet suit to protect him from the icy water, while his friend Dave Burgess stood nearby on the riverside supervising the machinery that brought up the sediment as Mike guided the suction hose over the river bottom.
2. Suddenly, both men heard something that sounded like a distant thunder, and both men turned and looked toward the sound.
3. Crashing out of the thicket was a huge boulder that had rolled down the mountain side.
4. Before Dave could get out of the way, the boulder struck him in the chest, knocked him backward into the river, and pinned him in a sitting position with the boulder resting squarely on his legs.
5. His head was three inches below the surface – Dave groped toward the air and sunlight only inches from his face.
6. Mike quickly did everything he could to move the boulder, including using a crowbar under the stone, but it just sank into the soft sand and gravel.
7. Mike turned off the noisy dredger and called for help. Other prospectors working nearby came running to help, but they could not move the boulder.
8. One man who had been a volunteer life-saver for more than a decade started doing underwater mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
9. Using the dredger and other equipment, the group finally freed Dave, but he had been underwater for 15 minutes and had no pulse.
10. By doing CPR and mouth-to-mouth on Dave, they were able to get his heart going, and an ambulance arrived and rushed him to the hospital.
11. Two days later, hobbling on crutches, Dave Burgess left the hospital and today he is completely recovered, except for occasional soreness in his left hip.
12. This true story stands as an example of our ability to bring back to life someone who was near death.
B. Every year, many people have near death experiences and are revived from the brink of death.
1. Unfortunately, not everyone can be revived.
2. And what is true physically, is also true spiritually.
3. Every year, many people almost die spiritually, but are revived from the brink of spiritual death.
4. But unfortunately, many people who slip into spiritual death cannot or will not be revived.
C. For the last few months, we have been studying the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
1. As we have studied those books, one thing has become very clear – God’s people were in need of restoring and renewing.
2. The Jewish remnant was in need of revival.
3. After 70 years in captivity, God had allowed them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild.
4. And the first thing they rebuilt was the temple – it was completed in 520 B.C.
5. About 60 years after the rebuilding of the temple, Ezra arrived on the scene and began to rebuild the spiritual life of God’s people.
6. Then 13 years after that, Nehemiah arrived on the scene and inspired the people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem – that task was completed in just 52 days.
D. So with the reconstruction project completed and the people having moved back into their homes, Nehemiah 7 provides a detailed description of just how well organized, well defended, and well governed the Jewish people were.
1. But even though God’s people were settled and safe, there was something missing.
2. There was a spiritual vacuum – the need for spiritual revival.
3. But God was about to do something about that through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.
I. The Story
A. Our story for today begins with the last sentence of chapter 7, and then moves into chapter 8: When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, 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. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam. 5 Ezra 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.