Attentive to the Word

“The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:3

Most events in Israel’s history have no direct implication to Christians today but there are certainly aspects from those events that give us understanding in approaching God and walking with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Israel had been in exile for seventy years and the return had been progressive under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. The temple and worship had been restored and the walls of Jerusalem made sound. It is fitting that the Lord should mark the occasion. Israel was returning to obedience.

As we read the first twelve verses of Nehemiah chapter eight we cannot miss that there is a supernatural motivation in the hearts of the people. They all came together in the open to hear the Word of God read and its understanding given. This would have taken several hours. They were motivated by a desire to please God.

Ezra the scribe (v 4) and priest (v 9) and those who stood with him read the Law and gave the understanding to the people. The people stood for the reading of the Word. As the understanding was given the bowed their heads in worship of the Lord and they mourned and wept over the nation’s sin. The accompanying confession of sin and repentance was a time to “rejoice greatly” (v 12). Their mourning was turned to joy after confession and repentance.

Truly this was a joyous moment in heaven as Israel’s worship of the Lord returned to Jerusalem after an absence of seventy years. It didn’t go unnoticed by the ungodly around the city.

As commendable as standing for the reading of God’s Word may be in our time, without the appropriate heart attitude it will not turn to confession, repentance and worship unless we have allowed the Lord to prepare our hearts before we arrive. This He does by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God as we read, meditate and study it and pray.

When Christians are led by the Spirit to come together for the reading and to be given the understanding of the Word of God there will be confession of sin and repentance from the outward performance to genuine heart worship and obedience. This too will be a joyous moment and it will not go unnoticed by the unbelieving world around us.

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