I’m guessing that I’m not alone in sometimes wishing I could have been present at some event recorded in the Bible. That many of us, as we read parts of Scripture, pause, and, beyond just wondering what it would have been like to be there, we think, “Now, that’s something I would have loved to have experienced up close & personal.”
What would it have been like to witness the Red Sea parting (absent having a murderous hoard of Egyptian infantrymen descending upon you . . . I’ll skip that part)? Or, being in the crowd around Elijah’s water-drenched offering and seeing fire from heaven come down and consume it . . . and the look on the faces of the prophet’s of Baal as their fantasy gods are crushed by the God of heaven. How about hearing the voice of God thunder from heaven extolling the Son as Jesus is raised from the waters of baptism? And, has anybody ever meditated on the emotions that would course through your body as you encountered an angel at the empty tomb on that Sunday morning? I’m thinkin’ . . .
That’s where I’m at this morning after reading Nehemiah 8. No cataclysmic acts of nature here . . . no fire from the sky . . . no voices, or angels, from heaven. Just the Word of God opened and read . . . and all the people stood.
And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard . . . , And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday . . . And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. . . . And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. (Ezra 8:1-5 ESV)
What had begun as an effort to rebuild some walls bloomed into a moving of the Spirit to reclaim some hearts. Those who had put their hands to the work of God were now experiencing the hand of God at work in them. For sure, they had restored the foundation of Jerusalem, but God was just as interested in the relaying the foundation within them.
And so they called for Ezra, the man known as the man who knew the Word (Ezra 7:10). They called him to come before their assembly and read the Word of God. Nothing fancy. No forty-seven part series with a catchy title and cool graphic. Just the Word of God opened before the people. People with ears that were ready to hear . . . people who sought to know the Word of God, and the God of the Word . . . people who, when the Book was opened, stood in reverence and anticipation.
That’s the scene I imagine being part of. Ezra on a platform in the middle of the square. Reading the Holy Scriptures . . words of revelation . . . words of life. Reading from them from “early morning until midday”. And all the people standing. As if to say, “Speak, LORD! For Your servants are listening.” Oh, the moving of the Spirit that must have occurred that day.
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8:6 ESV)
O’ to have been there!
But, in a sense, that opportunity is afforded me every day as I open my Bible for morning devo’s. And it’s afforded to me every Sunday as I gather with God’s called out people and hear again the Word of God proclaimed. And though I may be sitting at my desk . . .or in a pew or chair before a pulpit, I should be standing on the inside.
With heart ready . . . ears attentive . . . and all my being leaning in as God-breathed words (2Tim. 3:16) are read and expounded. And then, as the Word is received, let the worship flow . . . Amen and Amen!
By His grace . . . for His glory!