“The Wonder of the Word”
Nehemiah 8: 1 12
February 7, 2016
Introduction: Ezra was a powerful teacher of the Word in the 400’s B.C. he had arrived in Jerusalem 14 years before Nehemiah. The gates and walls went up under Nehemiah and the people were pumped with renewed nationalistic pride and spiritual energy. The focus upon the Word of God was then and is now, nothing short of electrifying!
Here is what the Word of God really does…
I.) The Word of God demands our attention (8:3)
A.) The Jewish believers gathered at the Water Gate during the Feast of Trumpets, their New Year’s Day.
1. Ezra taught for five hours and get this, they loved it!!! a. attentive, means to uncover ones ear, so as to hear and understand and then to act upon what you have heard!
2. Today, we decentralize and compartmentalize the Word of God at times and wonder where spiritual maturity seems to be hiding! 3. The Word of God is central to our beliefs and must be studied in order for us to grow in our faith!
4. I believe that a professing Christian who does not take the time to study God’s Word cannot be a growing Christian!
B.) The “Believers” in Nehemiah’s day were craving the Word of God as if it were their very spiritual lifeblood!
l. It seems strange to me, but when you are deprived of something, it becomes the very thing you desire the most!
2. Believers in China and in Russia, for example, are so hungry for God’s Word that when they get a copy they literally take it apart and pass it around in sections to be read and memorized, and not only that, they are willing to die for it!
3.Contrast that with average American household that studies say have on average 4.5 Bibles and that most of them are dust covered!
Ill. There are documented cases of Chinese executions of believers whose only crime is to be a member of the Church.
II.) The Word of God demands our attention and our Respect (8:5)
A.) In this passage we find the first known example of the use of a raised platform for worship.
l. It tells us several things:
a. They expected a large crowd and were ready
b. The reading of God’s Word was important to them and
c. They wanted to be sure that everyone could hear what was being said.
d. This was the beginning of a revival.
e. and, Get this the Word got a standing ovation!
ex. Barna Research tells us that only 56% of Americans believe the Bible is the Word of God and yet over 90% of American profess faith in a supreme deity, hmmmmm. Eleven percent who read the Bible also believe in the accuracy of horoscopes. Notice in our text the incredible respect for God’s Word. They “stood up” to hear it read, and they bowed their faces to the ground in a sign of humility!
III.) The Word of God demands attention, respect, and worship (8:6)
A.) They “lifted up their hands” in a sign of surrender to its authority, and then they “bowed down – in a sign of humility!
1. The impact of the Word caused the people to fall to the ground in an humble gesture of submission.
2. Dead ritualism had vanished and genuine heart felt revival broke out!
Ill. See photo copy of “We’re no longer in Kansas…”
IV.) The Word of God not only demands attention, respect, and worship, it also demands Action! (8:9 1 1)
A.) What are the results of the reading of God’s Word?
l.”Joy”vs.10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
2. giving, “send portions to him who has nothing” vs. 10
3. We cannot hear God’s Word and not respond in some form.
4. The question is how will we respond in our day?
5. Will we respond by turning an apathetic ear to the Word or an enthusiastic one?
Ill. See “Church”
Conclusion: God’s Word demands: attention, respect, worship, and action. The Word of God is a wonder indeed. The Word of God will lead every sincere seeker into a vibrant relationship with the living God through his Son, our Lord Jesus, who by his Spirit lives and directs our very lives! We haven’t worshiped until we respond in some way, take some action, showing concern for “him who has nothing”!
How will we respond in our day? Will we take nothing away from this time of worship and series of sermons or will we take away a renewed sense of God’s presence and leading in our lives? Will we feel a renewed call to prayer? Will we have the ability to see the ruins along with a willingness to risk everything even our very lives for the call of God on our lives to be Kingdom builders? Will we have the confidence to ask God for everything we need to fulfill our calling in this time and place? Will we have hearts that are broken and burdened by the things that break and burden God’s heart?
We have got to find ways to get everybody and I do mean everybody involved in some form of ministry. Prayer is a vital ministry if you don’t think you can do very much physically speaking then lift this Church and it’s work for Christ up in your prayers! We must keep our focus on God and his kingdom! Our character will have to be like Nehemiah’s which was humility in the Lord, a fear or respect for God in all things and at all times, and his deep desire for Godly character which replaced the lure of worldly success.
Our eyes must be open to the attempts from within and without to stop the kingdom work that God is calling us too. I believe that First Church is entering a period of time when God will give us a new and a fresh vision of what it means to be his people in this time and place and we have got to get ready for that vision. Let’s get started by spending a few minutes in a season of prayer! Please join me.
We learn many things for a book most of us would just gloss over in our Bible and perhaps even ignore. I hope you would agree with me that there are valuable lessons in this story for God’s people today. Things like the importance of prayer, a willingness to risk everything for the sake of God’s kingdom, confidence in God to supply everything needed, having hearts that are broken over the things that break God’s heart and as talked about last week, everybody involved in the work, in the ministry.
If we want to have a church that our community realizes is here and relevant then these things must be who we are and what we are about!