Don’t you just love when you are reading, researching and writing about a topic that you, first and foremost, are the one most blessed by it? I can only hope, that you my readers, find my writing encouraging and uplifting too!
God’s word is a rich and rewarding source of wisdom for our lives—and God has tucked His riches into its pages for our use. But we can’t take advantage of those riches if we aren’t immersing ourselves in Scripture. That’s the lesson of Nehemiah 8. The walls and gates of Jerusalem have been rebuilt. The time for reconstruction is past; the time for reinstruction has come! Depending on what age you were when you gave your life to Christ, few escaped the destructive philosophies of this world. We have picked up attitudes, assumptions, and wrong think that are unchristian and worldly, and we often aren’t even aware of what those subconscious beliefs are. So we need reinstruction in the ways of God.
We all need to be reconstructed in the qualities that lead to lasting wholeness. Brokenness results from forgetting God’s word and living like the rest of the world. Wholeness comes from rediscovering God’s word and becoming distinct and separate from the world. (Rom. 12:2) The only way to renew our minds is immersing ourselves in the Word of God.*
At this point in the story, the Israelite people all came together as one in the square (kind of like our downtown courthouse) and Ezra, the priest, stood on a very high platform and read aloud the Book of the Law from day break till noon. (this would have been the Pentateuch – the first 5 books of the Bible). THE PEOPLE WERE HUNGRY FOR THE WORD OF GOD. 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. (Neh. 8:5,6) When’s the last time you did that?
The people also began to weep (vs. 9). The words of God had a profound impact on their souls, their spirit, and their emotions. Until they heard it, they hadn’t realized how far they had strayed from God’s standards for their lives. They realized what had caused the ruin and destruction in their own lives; they realized the suffering they had inflicted on themselves and their children through their sin and rebellion. The hearing of the Word of God forces us to recognize the sin and corruption that defiles us from within. Evil is not somewhere outside of us, it is inside of us. We have been complicit with evil and that alone should cause us to fall prostrate on our faces and weep.
But…once our conscience is pricked and we repent and course correct, the Psalmist tells us, “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” Once we grieve and weep over our sin and brokenness, we are ready to receive the comfort, strength, and joy of forgiveness; and according to Neh. 8:10, the “joy of the Lord is (becomes) our strength.” Talk about a resilient tool!
I work with people in my counseling practice that come to me carrying tremendous guilt and shame; and the accomodating burden of “How do I forgive myself and others?” They’ve carried this for decades in many cases and it has plunged them into all manner of addictions, broken and failed relationships, pain and suffering. The greatest gift I can offer them, if they are open, is a solution. I don’t know what secular psychotherapists offer but from a Christian worldview; we can offer a Redeemer. We can show them from the writings of Paul in Romans, chapter 6-8, and elsewhere, how we are enslaved to sin and all its destructiveness, but Jesus made a way out. In Him, full restoration is possible. The words of Scripture will mend all the broken places in your life. Nehemiah chapter 8 finishes up with the annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. They found written in the Law, that each year they were to build temporary shelters to live in for seven days. This was to teach the Israelites that they should always see themselves as pilgrims and strangers on the earth and that this world was not their home. True Blessings were not to be found in this present age but in the glorious age to come.
*adapted from God’s Blueprint for Succeess – Ray Stedman