Highlights In Today's Reading:
Nehemiah's ministry in Jerusalem is finished (7:1-2). The ever-important genealogy registry (7:6-66). Ezra reads the Law (8:1-8). The joy of the Lord is your strength (8:10). Why (8:12)? Surprise! Through their study, they discover a forgotten Law, the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), and they fulfill it (8:14-18). P.T.L.
Ezra and Nehemiah had the privilege of helping the returned exiles restore the walls and finally the gates of Jerusalem. After the wall was completed under Nehemiah's supervision, thousands of Jews assembled at sunrise in Jerusalem day after day to hear Ezra and the Levites read and explain the Book of the Law — the five books of Moses.
When Ezra read and explained the Scriptures, from the morning until midday . . . all the people were attentive unto the Book of the Law. . . . when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen (8:3,5-6).
All the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law (8:9) followed by a marvelous revival. One purpose of the Law is to lead people to recognize their sins and repent. Repentance was followed by great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the Book of the Law of God (8:17-18). Hearing the Word of God resulted in a renewal of their covenant relationship with God and the restoration of true worship. Previous failures were a testimony that, without a commitment of obedience to His Word, all their efforts to rebuild would have been in vain.
The ultimate purpose of God for His people was far more than the restoration of the Temple and the walls. These material things were powerless to protect the Israelites from their enemies unless the people knew and obeyed the Word of God. Through Jesus' death on the cross for our sins, we are born again and receive His nature — the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13; 3:3). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we accomplish the Lord's will, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5). It is then that we become more than conquerers through Him that loved us (Rom. 8:37).
The most pressing need today is for Christians to become seriously concerned about reading all of the Bible. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). Almighty God speaks personally to us through His Word and, as we read, our acts of disobedience, whether by ignorance, omission, or commission, are brought to mind. This leads to conviction, confession, and cleansing. 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).
Thought for Today:
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
Through the names required to be registered for priestly service (Neh. 7:64). Christ, our Great High Priest (Heb. 3:1), will soon return wearing His Name, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16).
7:2 feared = had reverential, heartfelt submission to; 7:3 stand by = stand 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 (Ex. 28:30); 8:14 booths = temporary shelters.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts in memory of Mrs. Annie Mae Michael • 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: Panama (3 million) in southern Central America • Major languages: Spanish and English • Limited religious freedom • 77% Roman Catholic; 12% Protestant; 5% Muslim; .1% Eastern Orthodox • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord for wisdom as you read His Word, and it will be given to you (James 1:5).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 10
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:33