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Nehemiah Chapter Eight, The Pattern For Bible Study

In our study of Nehemiah chapter eight, we look at the fruitful study of the Word of God. We look at what happened with the people that returned from exile to Jerusalem and how that applies to us in our study today.

Nehemiah 8:1

When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.

All of the people got together in the square that was opposite the Water Gate. As we saw in chapter 3, the Water Gate is associated with the Word of God and they assembled there to hear the Word. These people had been in exile for seventy years and had not heard the Word.

Nehemiah 8:2

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.

We see that the crowd was made up of men, women, and children of an age to understand the Word. This speaks to the fact that there is a certain age for each child at which time they can hear and understand the things of God. This is often called the "age of accountability" and only God knows what that age is for the individual.

Nehemiah 8:3

He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

We see that this initial Bible study lasted for hours as the people stood there and listened to the Word. They must have been hungry to hear about the things of God to stand there for that length of time. We see that they were not concerned with what time it was or whether they were going to get done in time to get to a good restaurant or do whatever else they wanted. We should all ask ourselves if we are that hungry for the Word of God. If your answer is yes, then, this website can be a tool to help you. If your answer is no, then, you may need to ask yourself what happened to your love for Christ. The Bible is all about Jesus Christ and, if we love Him, then we should have a strong desire to draw closer to Him through the Word.

Nehemiah 8:4

Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Maklijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.

Ezra stood on a platform to share the Word of God. On his right and left were the priests.

Nehemiah 8:5 & 6

Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, 'Amen! Amen!' Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

The people stood for the reading of the Word as is done in many bodies of believers today. Ezra started by praising the Lord and the people responded much like the typical worship service of today.

Nehemiah 8:7 & 8

The Levites - Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Masseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah - instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

So, we see how this great Bible study took place. Ezra would read from the Law and these men were stationed throughout the crowd. They would answer questions that those around them had concerning the words that were read. This is a part that is missing from many of the worship services of bodies of believers as it has gotten to the point where a speaker reads a tiny bit of God's Word and then adds a bunch of their own words. There is very little interaction to see if the people have any questions; it is just assumed that the speaker has covered all of the questions that could be raised. This is why most of the teaching is ineffective as many people put in their time and leave not understanding what they have heard.

Nehemiah 8:9

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, 'This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.' For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

We see the effectiveness of this method of teaching the Word as the people reacted with conviction through tears. This method allows the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those that are listening to the Word. It is the Word of God and this Spirit that does the work and not the words of a speaker on a platform. This is what the Lord said (in Isaiah 55:11) as He promised that His words would not return empty.

Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'

Nehemiah reminded the people that the Word should bring joy and not mourning as it draws us closer to the Lord. He urged them to celebrate and to share with the poor. Most of us have the celebrating part down but we ignore the sharing with the poor part. We see that he also reminded the people that their strength comes from the joy produced by this study of the Word. Without this proper way of studying (where people get to offer their questions), they often leave with the same burdens that they entered the worship service with.

Nehemiah 8:11 & 12

The Levites calmed all the people saying, 'Be still, for this day is a sacred day. Do not grieve.' Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

We see that, through this pattern of Bible study, the people gained insight and understanding. They left the worship service with joy as they drew closer to God through His Word. This is what the Lord described (in Isaiah 55:12) as even the trees will seem to celebrate with you.

Nehemiah 8:13-15

On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: 'Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths' - as it is written.

The next day, the leaders of the Israelites gathered for more study of the word. They found that God had commanded them to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. This is known as Sukkot or the Feast of Ingathering and it was a reminder to the people that God had them to live in temporary structures (booths) when they left Egypt. During this time, they were to gather in Jerusalem, live in these booths and rejoice in the Lord.

Nehemiah 8:16 & 17

So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.

We see that, in this pattern for Bible study, they put it into practice as all of the people obeyed and celebrated this holy week. From the time that Joshua led them out of the wilderness into the promised land until that day, they had never had such a celebration. With this celebration they drew closer to God and experienced joy as they remembered what He had done for them. We can experience the same type of joy when we slow down and remember what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Nehemiah 8:18

Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.

Finally, we see that this was a continuing pattern of Bible study as they did it each day. If we want to draw closer to the Lord, then, we will want to do so every day. (We encourage you to join us on this site every day to get the latest Bible study).

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