November 3, 2016
READ: Nehemiah 8:1-12
They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage (v.8).
This month, believers in Jesus can participate in two special ways to show their solidarity with others around the world. The first two Sundays are International Days of Prayer for upholding those persecuted for their faith. And November 23 is designated the International Day of the Bible for us to celebrate Scripture publicly. Participants are asked to read any passage of the Bible at noon and to promote the Bible on social media using the hashtag #BibleCelebration.
With the walls rebuilt, and having settled down in safety, the Jews asked for “their own national day of the Bible” (Nehemiah 6:15-16, 7:73-8:1). “Assembled with a unified purpose,” they wanted to hear Scripture read. “From early morning until noon [Ezra the priest and scribe] read aloud to everyone who could understand” (vv.1-3).
The people honored the Scriptures. Everyone “listened closely to the Book of the Law.” And the moment Ezra “[opened] the book, they all rose to their feet” (vv.3,5).
This public Bible reading was also a “Bible conference” for the more than 40,000 people gathered in the city square (7:66). The teachers “then instructed the people in the Law . . . and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage” (8:7-8).
Riveted, “everyone remained in their places.” Convicted, the people repented, “weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.” Instead of sadness, Nehemiah called them to “go and celebrate,” to rejoice in their new beginnings (vv.7-10).
Repentance is definitely an appropriate response. But true engagement with Scripture ultimately leads to rejoicing “with great joy because [we hear] God’s words and [understand] them” (v.12).
—K. T. Sim
365-day plan: Acts 17:1-15
What does Psalm 119:9-16 say about the priority and necessity of Scripture for our lives?
Why is it significant that it was the people who asked for the Scriptures to be read and taught to them? How do you show your desire to read and hear God’s Word?