I have just started studying the book of Nehemiah, and I LOVE it!
It's so good!
Because I studied Jeremiah for so long, I learned a lot about what led up to the exile period. (Where the Jews were exiled from the Promise Land because of their continual rebellion to God.)
Now I am understanding God's fulfillment of his promises to rebuild them through a remnant of faithful people.
Nehemiah and Ezra led the physical and spiritual rebuilding of God's people.
But it's how they responded to God's Word that is blowing me away.
They hadn't heard God's Word for generations.
Once they rebuilt the walls and begun the rebuilding of the Temple, getting settled in, they called an enormous meeting...
8:1 all the people assembled together as one person at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.
2 So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the scroll of the law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people paid close attention to the Book of the Law...
6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, "Amen! Amen!" as they lifted their hands toward heaven. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Upon hearing the Law, they fell face down, worshiped God, and after that it says the people were all weeping aloud! They were grieved that they had been living in direct disobedience to God. Their response was to immediately obey! They changed everything about their lives so that it would line up with the Law! It is such a moving book.
I want to be like them!
I want to be so moved when I read the Word and feel conviction, that it moves me immediately! I want to be humble enough to recognize when I am living for my ways, rather than His. I don't want to argue with God, debate it internally, try to rationalize...I just want to MOVE to obedience!
I always say that I have found that we, including ME, like to campaign for our sin and the world's way. When someone challenges the way we think and live, we start painting our signs, picketing, calling out to anyone who will listen "I want to date like everybody else!!" or "I want to wear whatever I want!!" Our signs are eye-catching, appealling, colorful, made with big fat markers that smell really good, and what we are shouting makes most people nod in agreement, and give us a thumbs-up. The sinful people of Israel were just following their culture, their ways of the world, doing what all the normal people do! But when it doesn't line up with God's Word, WHO CARES?
I am definitely not done learning from this book. I'm just beginning. There's so much. Like Nehemiah's ability to lead, his burden for God's people and persistent and desperate prayers for them, and the way he refused to tolerate compromise to God's Word. Yep, I'm just getting started. It's good. Really good.