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Nehemiah 8:1-8

Nehemiah 8:1-8

Categories:

Sermon: A Word-Shaped Community
Bible Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-8 (chs 8–10)

I. Background

1. The Temple and city-wall were rebuilt and rededicated (Ezra 6:13-18; Neh 6:15)
2. Those who returned from Babylon settled in their villages (7:73)—A major milestone
3. Now, they needed spiritual change, get reconnected to God
4. (What we read in this chapter is probably the beginning of the Synagogue movement and eventually it was adapted for the church)

II. Passage

1. “First day of the seventh month” appears to be a new cycle (1:1, 2:1, 6:15, 7:73b, 9:1, 13:6)

a. The Feast of Trumpets
b. The Day of Atonement
c. The Feast of Tabernacles
d. They followed Deuteronomy 31:11-13[1]

i. “Men,” “women,” and “children”
ii. They may hear the Word and learn to fear the LORD
iii. Be careful to do all the words of this law

2. What a great way to start their month of celebration—around the Word and God
3. “One man”—a sign of health (verse 1)

a. People demonstrated enthusiasm towards God and things of God
b. “Men, women, and children” (verse 3)

4. “They told Ezra” (verse 1)—A shift has taken place in which the laities are beginning to take responsibility

a. Until here, Ezra and Nehemiah were the initiators, but from here “the people” are the initiators
b. Ezra’s responsibility is primarily to read the Law and mentor the team of teachers (8:4, 7)
c. Nine times the word “people” occurs in 8:1-12
d. “People” are the most important character in this passage
e. There was a shift from the Temple to the Word—a structure to the Word
f. We do not see the Levitical domination, teachers take a prominent role (8:4, 7)
g. Focus was a stage and elevated place: centrality for the Word (sola Scriptura)

5. “And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law”/“All the people were eager to hear the book of the law” (8:3)—An emphasis on “hearing”
6. “They bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (8:6)—reconnecting with God not through doing, but after hearing
7. “The people gained an understanding from what was read” (8:8)—not all believers know what they believe!! (you and I need to gain fresh, correct understanding of God’s counsel)
8. “Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God[2]” (8:18)
9. The reading of God’s Word brought revival

a. They had gained insight in the matters that had been made known to them through the teaching (8:12)—(correction from emotionalism)
b. They discovered truth about what they needed to do (8:14)
c. They separated themselves (10:29)
d. They rededicated their lives (10:29-39)

III. Lessons

1. Spiritual revival of a believer or believing community does not necessarily lie in the presence of the Temple, wall, and religious system,
2. But it lies in a life connected to God that is evidenced by personal and community transformation

a. A sense of sinfulness and desire for repentance (9:1-3)
b. A desire for corporate worship and Word (9:4-37) “we”

3. The evidence of revival is not emotionalism, but a willingness to be obedient to God and a desire to do what pleases Him (cf. ch. 9; check the word “we”)
4. When God’s Word is absent, there is a promotion of externals and emotionalism

IV. Jesus desires that His followers remain fruit bearers to the Father (John 15:1-4)—remain in a vibrant relationship with God

1. (John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”)
2. One of the causes of not bearing fruit is absence of the Word (what do we mean by “absence of Word”?)

a. Not showing eagerness
b. Not demonstrating obedience
c. Not seeking Father’s glory

3. Jesus’ word cleanses His believers

a. Jesus-followers must protect themselves from developing deadness and parasites
b. Jesus is the only way to remain in a fruit bearing relationship with the Father

Take Away: 

Show eagerness to hear God’s Word, be obedient to what He says, and rededicate your life

1. Renounce shallowness and trends
2. Develop a habit of confession, repentance, and worship

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at wjsubash@crossroadbangalore.org