Through Scripture, God is our companion on the road
Scripture: Nehemiah 8:1-3; 5-6; 814; 17-18
Ezra given credit for main feasts that Jews still celebrate today. First day of Jewish New Year Rosh Hoshana. Tenth day of fifth month Day of Atonement, no work, second feast Yom Kippur. Third feast Booths, temporary shelter, remembrance of exile and Eygpt. Ezra was reading from Book of Law.
1. It is a sign of spiritual health when the people of God desire to hear the Scripture.
People demanded to hear the Scripture. Unusual, priest and prophets usually brought people together to hear Word from God. Scholar and priest attributed to Ezra, men and women called to hear, not separated. Scrolls (Pentateuch 5 Books of Moses). The Bible when translated in to King James Version was the most influential book ever and contributed to move to colonies where all are created equal under God, not kings. Text ready to read in Ezra’s time. People had been away from worship for a very long time. Hearts empty because of the absence of Scripture. Those with faith in God find their hearts empty if not exposed to Scripture. Ezra read from morning until noon and stood above the people who stood in respect, he read and the people said Amen and bowed down to worship.
2. When the Scripture is read communally and authoritatively worship is induced.
Private reading of Scripture is crucial and a powerful discipline. Something special happens when Scripture is read together with other Christians. In unison they placed their faces on the ground. Jesus said “even if two or three are gathered, I will be there.” Read book clearly and give people the understanding to know what is going on. Don’t say too much or too little. Ezra talks movingly about Great God. Induces the desire to worship.
3. When the Scripture is seriously heard, tears are often induced.
This days is Holy do not mourn or weep. Nehemiah governor, Ezra the priest read of ancestors unfaithfulness so people wept. When one has wounded love one or God, one weeps. “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, steadfast in love, forgive us our sins.” Often weep for sadness and for joy because of hope. Psalm 34 only one example. Spiritual greatness of Psalms is it recognizes dark shadows of life but evokes a light of hope.
4. The first of the booths is a memory that life is transient and that God is our companion on the road.
Go and drink wine and eat portions, and feed those who have nothing. Be joyful and gather branches for temporary shelters (booths) and there was great rejoicing and they kept feast 7 days and on 8 day where solem. God is God on the journey. Let not your hearts be troubled, rejoice for the time we have spent together, remember we will see each other again. Same truth applies to us. We need to be less casual about the gifts of life we take for granted. We have a tough and good companion to teach us truth. Without written Scripture our lives are incomplete. We are People of the Book.