Today's devotion from Nehemiah 8.
I love this event in the life of Israel. The people had been restored to the Promised Land and had been successful in accomplishing the task set before them. As they continue toward complete restoration, now they turn their attention to the Word of God.
In this day, the Word of God was slightly different than it is in our modern context. The Law of the Lord would have been even more profound for them because it not only addressed the religious life of Israel, but also the civil and ceremonial aspects of their culture also.
This is all very important, but the emphasis that I would like to place on the event is in the power of the preaching of God's Word. You see, the text implies that this was not just a monotonous reading, but that there was an explanation given so that everyone who could understand would grasp the concepts.
When this happened, the people were so confronted by the sad state of their disobedience that they had to be forced to celebrate the festival in a joyous manner. Their hearts were pierced with the power of the reading and preaching of the Word of God.
This is the power of Scripture.
One of the major issues within the church today is a falling away from Scripture. There is a movement to deemphasize the Bible as authoritative and relevant. Too many people want to approach God's Word with the power in their hand to interpret and rule out anything that does not affirm their predisposed notions. As such, we are seeing more and more Christianity becoming distorted into an American folk religion.
Once the Word of God is robbed of its authoritative power, Scripture no longer points us toward the true God, but a lesser idol fashioned by the hands and minds of men. Yes, we can so mangle truth and forsake Scripture that the God of the Bible is forgotten and the god of men is worshipped.
As we see the power of Scripture in the lives of those present at this event in Nehemiah, let us long to experience the same in our lives and churches today. Let us pray that the Word would be preached and taught in such a way as to communicate to the audience so that all can understand.