“And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law” – Nehemiah 8:3From Dave Atkinson:
Perhaps, like me, you’re missing live sport. No football, no rugby, no Wimbledon, no Olympics and possibly no test match cricket (I’ve got a ticket for England v West Indies!). We can fill the void with re-runs of our favourite sporting moments but, for me, it doesn’t match the excitement of being there or watching live.
Earlier this week, I was reading about a great live event in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah tells of the return of the people of God, from exile in Babylon back to their home of Jerusalem and, under Nehemiah’s leadership, the rebuilding of the city walls. Chapter 8 tells us that, following the completion of the walls, everyone assembled and, over a period of some six hours, Ezra read the Book of the Law to the assembly, assisted by a group of other leaders who translated and/or explained as he went along. The Book of the Law is what we know as the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
Verse 3 tells us that all the people listened attentively; verse 9 that they wept as the truth of God’s Word exposed their sins; verse 12 that there was great joy because they understood God’s Word; verse 18 that they read and listened to God’s Word day after day; and three weeks later (chapter 9) after repenting of their sins they burst into praise. What a live event that was – what a festival – what a church service!
After reading about this amazing live event, I felt the sadness of St Pat’s not meeting together at present. I’m very thankful for our livestream services, blogs and so on, but I do miss meeting together in person in one place to worship the Lord and hear and understand the Bible together. But I was reminded that reading God’s Word, with others or alone, is always a live event. When we read the Bible, we meet with God in person by the power of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings the written words of God alive; speaking to us personally to challenge us, encourage us, strengthen us, to bring us joy. And, unlike those sport re-runs, it doesn’t matter how many times we read the Bible, it will always be a live event, where God will speak afresh to us each time.
We do though need to come to God’s Word expectantly, prepared to listen attentively, ready to be changed by it so that we would become more like Jesus.
Are you listening attentively to God’s Word? When is your next live event with God?