Revival – Re-Bible
An African tribal chieftain was educated in schools in England and was able to gain an audience with Queen Victoria. He asked her, “To what do you attribute the great prosperity of the British Empire?” To answer his question she picked up her Bible and said, “Take this book and its message back to your people and they will likewise prosper.”
If the Jerusalem of Nehemiah’s day was to remain free and strong and prosperous (In God’s estimation) it needed more than city walls, gates and other security measures. They needed God’s Word. A spiritual vacuum existed in the lives of the returned exiles. Their ignorance of the Law of God was appalling, and Nehemiah and Ezra knew that they could not handle the physical battles well unless they were spiritually fit. In Nehemiah 8, therefore, we see the leaders in Jerusalem reinforcing the stone walls with a foundation of biblical truth for the people of God.
In Nehemiah 8 we will see the people reverently standing for hours as God’s word is read and explained. WE will see the people of God respond in repentance and action when disobedience is identified. We will see the resulting joy erupt as God’s word comes alive in the hearts and lives of His people.
As we prepare for Sunday’s message on Nehemiah 8 I would like us to consider briefly Proverbs 29:18. Most of us grew up in King James world and would hear this verse every time there was a need for new direction in the church or a new plan for the future. The KJV translated the verse thus “Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The proper translation for the word “vision” (Hazan) is actually “revelation” or “word of revelation.” This is the Old Testament word for “divine communication.” This word is not the word for some kind of esoteric or mysterious future plan that God is waiting for just the right moment to drop in our lap. This is the word that indicates God’s divine revelation. His Word. The ESV grasps the intent of the word when it translates this verse: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Nehemiah recognized this to be true. The people had lived for years ignorant of God and His Word. Chapter 8 is a revival of sorts. It is Nehemiah calling the people of God back to the word of God.
Spiritual vitality, strength, and renewal DO NOT occur apart from God’s word. One of my favourite writers on Old Testament themes is Walter Kaiser. In commenting on Proverbs 29:18 Dr. Kaiser concludes, “Where there is little exposure to the word of God the congregation will go crazy.” Nehemiah would agree … and so would I.
See you Sunday,