Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Standing Room Only

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. (Nehemiah 8:1-2 KJV)

Temple rebuilding meets a a feast  day. The first day of the seventh month is the Feast of Trumpets:
The Feast of Trumpets marked the beginning of ten days of consecration and repentance before God. It is one of seven Jewish feasts or festivals appointed by the LORD and one of three feasts that occur in the autumn. The Feast of Trumpets began on the first day (at the new moon) of the seventh month. Its name comes from the command to blow trumpets (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1-6). It is also called Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the Year,” because it marks the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar.
This is held ten days before the Day of Atonement – a time of preparing one’s heart for the atonement for past sins. It is good for us to understand the importance of such an occasion, where it falls in Jewish life – then, and today.

In Nehemiah 8, the congregation is assembled to hear the reading of God’s law given to the Children of Israel.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: (Nehemiah 8:5 KJV)

Ezra “stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose” (v. 4) much the same way our own pastor stands before our congregation, but we usually remain sitting in our pews. There are missionaries and/or evangelists who visit who begin their sermons by saying, “Let us stand for the reading of God’s word.”

And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8:6 KJV)

Not very different from one of our own services, right? Prayer, blessings, head bowed, worshipping our Lord.

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. (Nehemiah 8:7-8 KJV)

We cannot assume this congregation would be considered literate. Perhaps the majority could not read the law on their own. We are blessed to be a very literate nation and God’s word is available freely to all in a multitude of ways. And, there are ministers, such as mine, who cause the people to understand. That is an awesome calling. The Bible calls them people with beautiful feet:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:7 KJV)

How about some standing room only celebration of God’s word? How are your feet perceived?

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