TODAY’S READING: Nehemiah 8–10
How beautiful it is when the people of God are attentive to the law (Neh. 8:3). The first seven chapters of Nehemiah do not mention Ezra, but now he enters the scene reading the Scripture in the open square from morning to midday. When Ezra opened the Scriptures to read, the people stood in respect, lifted their heads, shouted “amen,” then bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground (vv. 4–6).
Ezra was a scribe. With his friends, he read distinctly from the Scripture and helped the people receive the apostolic sense and understand the meaning (v. 8). Day by day this reading went on, and we can imagine the sense of shock and awe as God’s people were reminded of the big picture. God wants us to be holy. Why? So He can live among us. Why? So He can bless us. Why? So we can bless all the peoples on earth. Why? So they will worship Him. Why? To fulfil prophecy. Why? So the King will come back to reign and restore all things!
As the dominoes of biblical understanding fell, how their hearts must have leapt, surging in multiple directions, confessing sins and shame for not being the covenantal missionary people of God, worshiping Him for a second chance (9:1–4). This awakening came from understanding the metanarrative of the Bible and erupted in praise. They stood up and blessed the Lord. One can sense the tremble joy: We get it! We get it! It’s awesome! You chose Abram to bless all peoples, You made a name for yourself in Egypt, You revealed the law in Saudi Arabia, You gave Your people the nations as an inheritance, our fathers sinned and broke the missionary covenant, You justly punished us in exile, for we made a mess of the beautiful mission of God (vv. 7, 10, 13, 22, 29, 33).
Then the people humbly separated themselves from the wicked nations and gave themselves back to God and His law to observe everything He commanded (10:28–29). It all started with reading the Bible and having a scribe give the meaning, connect the dots, and help the people see the big picture and the end goal. The goal is not “holiness,” “judgment,” “exile,” and “return.” We are holy that God might dwell among us that we might be blessed and that every people group be gathered in heaven. Oh, how we need another corporate awakening as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. May God lead His people to read, love, and understand His Word. If we get the faintest sense of it, we will again be the missionary people of God He intends.