“Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.” Psalm 119:136
We just went through the book of Nehemiah in our studies at Colorado Springs Baptist Church. Chapter 8 where Ezra reads the Book of the Law (God’s Word) to all the people has always made me take a strong look at and compare it to people of our day, but this time it had me weeping for God’s church and how it has grown lax and complacent in His Laws and morals. I hear it a lot that we have had it too easy for too long in these great United States, and we are headed for a great fall because of “the people turning away from God Jehovah.” I believe more than I ever did, as I watch the minorities of people such as homosexuals and abortionists winning their battle to force everyone to condone their sinful lifestyles. Supposedly, those who call themselves Christians far outweigh this group of people, yet many sit back on their thumbs, with their heads in the sand and ignore issues like this as if maybe they will just all go away. Well, as we can see, they will not go away. In fact, they will continue to get worse and worse. We are already seeing Christians stepped on, mocked, and condemned for trying to take a stand for Godly morals and His Laws/Word. I call these few God’s “Remnant.” Perhaps we have survived as long as we have because of this Remnant who remain faithful to Jehovah and His Word. I was recently reminded that “As the darkness grows darker, the Light shines brighter.” This is my commitment to the Lord until I go be with Him, to keep letting His Light shine through me.
Too many of our churches today do not even preach or teach the Great Commission or remission of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Many Pastors today are afraid to share God’s true Word or teach reverence to the one and only HOLY God by giving Him our best in all that we do, which includes how we dress before Him in HIS House and when we represent Him in service to Him, because people will not stay. So many today bring our Holy God down to their level instead of lifting Him up as He deserves to be lifted up. As a Holy God, He deserves for us to take some extra time and effort, to go to what we think of as a hassle, to reverence Him in our attire and our behaviour. We do not mind dressing up for a friend’s wedding out of respect for them, but it seems to be okay to enter God’s House or do service to Him dressed like we are going to the gym or a b-b-q. Does He not deserve even more respect than our friend?! Many only want to hear what makes them feel good or comfortable as they continue living in lives of sin – itching ears which have grown deaf to God’s truth. Many of today’s churches do whatever the world asks them because they need their money to survive. The church has become their ‘business’ – some even stealing from God by taking money from things like Missions Accounts, and seemingly getting away with it. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) I would not want to be in that pastors’ shoes! I say to these so-called men of God, “Grow up in the LORD and stick to His true Word.” He is still on His throne and in control, and you will be held most accountable when you stand before Him. Trust Him to bring people in – people who need and want to hear the truth. People who are sick and hurting and need to be healed/saved and can only be healed by the hand of our Great Physician, Jesus Christ. If people leave because we are sticking to God’s Laws and reverencing Him as His Word commands, let them leave. They usually end up being a doorway for evil anyway. Perhaps after a time of pain and sorrow in the world, they will return ready for the truth. I say that because I have certainly been down that path in my journey to know the LORD more.
Just yesterday we watched coverage as it was happening on the news of terrorist excrement (I will not even bother to name them and give them any notoriety) committing acts of murder on innocent people they call infidels in France. Do you really kid yourselves that that cannot happen in our great country? Look where we have come in our abomination lifestyles and celebrating sin more than committing our lives to our Loving and Holy LORD. This country has turned from its God and Creator who founded it through our forefathers. With the ready access to social media and news outlets today, you cannot tell me that you are not aware of the thousands of these extreme Muslims right here among us, and they come over our open borders daily with other illegals. We WILL get what we deserve. I know that our God has allowed this evil atrocity in our White House, who laughs at our Constitution and makes his own laws, for the purpose of bringing this sin-laden country to its knees and back to Him. We are going to have to go through some terrible times which we have never seen before, to lead ALL the people to “gather themselves together AS ONE” and hear God’s true Word again, and not some corrupted version that leaves out what people do not want to hear because it convicts them of their sin.
Some background leading up to Ezra Chapter 8:
From the beginning, God had promised to bless the people of Israel (you could place the United States here) if they obeyed Him and to curse them if they disobeyed Him. The times when His people were taken captive (by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., the Babylonians in 586 B.C., and the Medo-Persians in 539 B.C.) were times when God used the heathens to discipline His children for their disobedience. The burning and destruction of Solomon’s temple by the Babylonians and its rebuilding 70 years later was foretold by Jeremiah in Chapter 25:11 and 29:10 – “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years; For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place,” to assure the people that God would preserve a faithful remnant of His people. I believe that God’s Remnant will be taken from this earth at any moment. God help this world when that happens. Turn to God! You do not want to be left behind to face what God is going to allow to turn those who continue to reject Him toward Him. Read the book of Revelation.
Though the Assyrians and the Babylonians brought the captives to their empires, the Medo-Persians treated them as refugees and let them return to their own land. So, in 538 B.C., Cyrus issued orders to begin rebuilding the temple, and the 1st of 3 groups of post-exiled Jews went back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Sheshbazzar and Zerubabbel. The temple was completed in 516 B.C. The 2nd group of exiles returned in 458 B.C. with Ezra who followed God’s guidance in leading the people back to Him spiritually. In 445 B.C., King Artaxerxes I issued his decree for Nehemiah to lead the 3rd group to begin rebuilding the wall and the gates of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah was also led of God to bring the people back to a spiritual relationship with Jehovah by obeying His Laws. Nehemiah’s reforms helped to preserve Jewish identity, protecting it from compromise with its pagan neighbors, until God’s promised seed of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah, entered the scene. The book of Nehemiah was the last recorded history of Israel in the Old Testament, beginning the silent years before the New Testament.
The man of God, Nehemiah, was a man of prayer. There are 10 recorded prayers ranging from the quick “arrow prayer” when God gave him opportunity to make his request to King Artaxerxes – Nehemiah 2:4 “Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (right then and there) to the Bible’s longest recorded prayer in Nehemiah 9. There are prayers of confession and repentance, delivered in mourning with sackcloth and ashes, and prayers of praise and adoration, delivered with jubilant singing and musical instruments. There are prayers of supplication in weakness – Nehemiah 6:9, and prayers for God’s judgment on Nehemiah’s enemies in Nehemiah 4:4, 5. Most of all, Nehemiah desired the approval of God more than the approval of man. His walk in faith was balanced with prayer and action. He prayed and then put his request before the king; he prayed and then “set a watch” (Neh. 4:9). He exhorted the people to “remember the Lord..and fight” (Neh. 4:14). How else could they have rebuilt the walls and gates of the city in just 52 days?!
Our evil enemies (also enemies of God) oppose us and try to engage us in strong spiritual warfare when we do His work. satan’s purpose is to destroy God’s people and God’s work. I see the hand of evil succeeding more in its work today than ever because God’s people have turned from following Him. Maybe it is easier for some to go the way of the world than to fight God’s battles, which should in fact be His children’s battles. We must follow Nehemiah’s example by combating evil with continual prayer, single-mindedness, wisdom, and righteous living. AND WE NEED ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE DOING THAT, NOT JUST HIS REMNANT!
Nehemiah Chapter 8:1-12 “Ezra Reads the Book of the Law”
- 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. (Women and children, though they did not participate in regular temple functions, came together on such solemn occasions: Deut. 31:12; Joshua 8:35. Presumably “all that could hear with understanding” referred to children old enough to understand. This rediscovery of the Word of God was evidently meant for everyone in the family. Many may never have heard it before this time.)
- And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those tht could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
- And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mat-ti-thi-ah, She-ma, and A-nai-ah, and U-ri-jah, and Hil-ki-ah, and Ma-a-sei-ah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pe-dai-ah, and Mi-sha-el, and Mal-chi-ah, and Ha-shum, and Hash-bad-a-na, Zech-a-ri-ah, and Me-shul-lam.
- 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: (they reverenced our Holy God by standing in respect for Him and His Law)
- 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. (Just as in days past, we can take it to the bank that we will go through consequences of turning our backs on our LORD, because unfortunately it takes horrendous events to bring us back to a right relationship with our righteous and Holy God.)
- Also Jesh-u-a, and Ba-ni, and Sher-e-bi-ah, Ja-min, Ak-kub, Shab-be-thai, Ho-di-jah, Ma-a-sei-ah, Ke-li-ta, Az-a-ri-ah, Jo-za-bad, Ha-nan, Pe-lai-ah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. (While Ezra read the Scripture from the Hebrew text, the Levites translated and explained the meaning in Aramaic, the language understood by the people. The people “stood” as a sign of reverence for the Word. This reading, interpretation, and even standing later became part of the synagogue worship services and can be seen in some Christian churches today. I am glad to say that CSBC does stand in honor and reverence to God as His Scripture is read before the message.)
- So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
- And Ne-hem-i-ah, which is the Tir-sha-tha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. (They were convicted by God’s Word, that is the power it has when we truly hear it, and they repented with weeping and mourning when they heard the Word because they realized how disobedient they had been. Oh, that God’s children would hear God’s true Word today and know their disobedience, repent and turn back to Him.)
- Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Once we understand our sinfulness and repent and turn back to God, we can then let go of our guilt and joy in God’s forgiveness.)
- So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy: neither be ye grieved.
- And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (I am not sure when God will Rapture His church from this world, but I do believe it will be sooner than most think. I find it very sad that many may not enjoy this joy and mirth until we go be with Jesus, after He wipes our mournful tears from our eyes, when we realize our lack of obedience and honor to Him while we were here. Come quickly Lord Jesus.)