Highlights In Today's Reading:
As the genealogies are recited we see the importance of having our name written down in the Book (7:63-64; compare Revelation 20:15). A great revival follows the reading and teaching of the Law.
The Law had not been read publicly to the Jewish people since they returned from Babylon about 100 years before. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, and later under Ezra and Nehemiah, the people had the privilege and were responsible for restoring the altar, the Temple, and finally the gates and walls of Jerusalem. But God's purpose for His people was far more than the restoration of buildings and walls. These things were meaningless unless the people sincerely obeyed His Word and worshiped Him.
Ezra and other Levites read in the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading (8:8). After they explained the Scriptures, a marvelous revival took place. All the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law (8:9). As a result, they were overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow when the reading of the Law revealed their sin against God.
The Jews continued to weep exceedingly after hearing how they had violated the Lord's Commandments. Once they confessed their sins and repented, Nehemiah . . . and Ezra . . . and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God. . . . neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength (8:9-10). They had extraordinary reasons for joy. God had delivered them from Babylon and had prospered them and protected them in building the Temple and in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem even though they were threatened with violent opposition.
Ezra told the people not to weep any longer over past sins. Since the Lord has accepted us, we should accept ourselves as well as all others.
All the Lord's people are likewise taught that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9) and then to rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4). If we are not enjoying our growing relationship with the Lord, it could be because of a lack of prayer or reading His Word or not recognizing how evil an unconfessed sin is. We who have experienced redemption from Satan's captivity have been delivered from all sin to serve the Savior. Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. . . . Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
Thought for Today:
Obedience to God's Word sets us free from the guilt and shame of our sinful past. The truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
Through the names required to be registered for priestly service (Nehemiah 7:64). Christ, our Great High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), will soon return wearing His Name, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16).
7:2 feared => revered; 7:3 by => on guard; watches => guards; 7:61 seed => genealogical descent; 7:65 Urim and Thummim => two objects kept in the high priest's breastplate and used to tell the Lord's will (Exodus 28:30); 8:14 booths => temporary shelters.
Pray for International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts in honor of Bonnie Wilhite • Executive Director of the IBRA in our Washington DC Branch: Reverend Michael Hall • Government Officials: Rep. Kenneth Calvert (CA) and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) • Country: Slovenia (2 million) in southeastern Europe • Major languages: Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian • Freedom of religion • 81% Roman Catholic; 1% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Raise your hands in praise and prayer, and worship the Lord (I Timothy 2:8).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 10
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 1:7