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Week:04, Season:1, 2016 Posted on Saturday by PCT

The Power of Church Reform

Scripture:Nehemiah 8:1-12

1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. 2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear[a] and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.” 12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

The people of Israel captivated by Babylon had returned to their nations and settled down in their towns. On the first day of that month, they gathered as one in the square before Water Gate in Jerusalem. They invited the respectful and honorable teacher of the Law, Ezra, to read out the Law of Moses loudly.



All Gather as One and Listen to God



The feature of this important gathering was that everyone in the religious group—men, women, elders, and mature children all attended this special meeting. At that time, women and children had lower social status than men, but they were not refused to attend the gathering. Whoever they were under social ranks, all were required to attend the gathering to understand the words of God more.



The other feature of the gathering was that Ezra had to read out the Law of Moses loudly. So all the people—men, women, elders, and children could hear about the Law of Moses clearly. “The Law of Moses” was not some dull book about the law of Jewish, but the book of valuable wisdom and memories of Jewish in religious groups of chosen people by God. These valuable wisdom and memories had been recorded in written texts.

When people of Israel being humble to read the Law of Moses attentively, they learned the wisdom from God in these valuable memories. They clearly understood their identity and mission and the nature of God much more when they attentively listened to God.



In this script, we can tell that the people of Israel spontaneously asked the teacher of Law Ezra to read out the Law of Moses (verse 1). Ezra read out the Law of Moses from the early morning to the noon for four to five hours, not just for 10 minutes. Jewish attentively listened to the reading within these four to five hours (verse 3). All stood up when Ezra opened the book (verse 5). Ezra said, “Praise the Lord! The Great Lord.” All raised their hands up and answered, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground (verse 6).



Value the Words of God



In this script, the writer described how the people of Israel acted plenty; in that way, the writer revealed how much the religious group valued the Law of Moses—the will and the teaching of God. All attendants valued the special gathering. They attentively listened to the reading of the Law of Moses. They tried to understand and follow the teaching of God in action.



God worked on His chosen people through the reading of the Law of Moses by Ezra. The Law of Moses was originally written in Hebrew, and it required the elaboration of Levites to be understood by common people. In translation, elaboration, and application of the script, the people of Israel can understand the words of God, associate the messages of script with their personal situations and apply them to be meaningful to all.



The captivated people of Israel were oppressed, discriminated, and insulted for a long time in Babylon. They had to hide themselves to survive in Babylon’s rule. Due to oppression, they were not able to live in freedom as God’s chosen people. They lived in sadness and depression. While hearing the reading of the words of God, they knew that the days of hiding were gone, and they did not have to live in fear any longer. They were able to live as who they are and to express what they think with honesty. None of them would be oppressed, refused, discriminated, and insulted anymore. They were set free and being joyful in freedom. They were motivated so much and then wept! (Verse 9)



When the leaders saw them weeping, the leaders encouraged them not to weep or mourn but to return and prepare feasts at home to share with others. “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Verse 12) The Law of the Lord brought the people of joy!



The Reformed Church by the Words of God



The people of Israel recalled their traditions in ancient faith and knew the will of Gods again when they heard Ezra reading out the Law of Moses. They recognised who they originally were when they were willing to listen to God humbly. God touched their hearts and changes their life in His words. By His words, they were comforted and encouraged in grieves. By His words, they were set free from the prisoned life and had their freedom. By His words, they gained the power of reform.



A truly growing and reformed church not only required sincere and capable shepherds in awe, but also herds of sheep who valued the words of God and their faith. They listened to the preaching of truth by pastors as they received His words. They believed that His words are foods growing the spiritual appetite in their lives.



We shall often encourage one another as believers in His words. Our gatherings, services, bible study classes, fellowship shall be constructed on the basis of Bible—God’s words. We read the bible, meditate, and understand the meaning of script together to learn how we can apply the script in daily life.



Only when we acknowledge the Bible as the words of God and the guidelines of faithful Christian life can we be His faithful believers. Only when we acknowledge the Bible as the words of God and the most important guidelines and standards for our church can our church be a faithful church. We shall see a new beginning, a new change, and the future granted by God when we humbly preach, listen to, and practice in the words of God.

For discussion:

1. Have you ever truly changed by reading the words of God? Were there any reason or obstacle stopping you from reading the words of God?
2. When do you read the Bible (the words of God) in daily life? Have you had any difficulty or have you been touched by God in your life? Please share your personal experience with others.

Please pray for:

1. the bible reading movement in our church. May the pastor, elders and deacons, brothers and sisters attentively listen to God. May all of us read the Bible diligently and share the gospel of Bible with others pleasantly.
2. That by reading the script this week, the Lord reminds us again about the importance of His words toward a church of reform. May the Lord send the Holy Spirit to the church. By His power and grace, the church shall become a church in love of Lord and in love of one another.
Prayer:

Prayer:

Almighty God,
Please send the Holy Spirit to us and open our ears to hear from you. May Your words awake us in temptation. Please forgive our trespasses and help us to know your truth. May you grant us Your words in power, set us free from chains and fears, and bring the reform of church and in ourselves. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Something you can do:

1. In the season of Epiphany, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to meditate the Sunday script, to spend more time with God in praying, and to reflect on their relationship with God.
2. During the period of Epiphany, the church can invite brothers and sisters to share what we have read in the Bible, and to share how we have been joyful and touched while meditating the scripts in Bible. Let us encourage our brothers to share at Sunday services or in gathering meetings.