Ezra and the Levites not only read the Word of God to the people, but they also explain the meaning. In doing so, the people can do more than simply hear the Word read; they can gain an understanding of them and apply them to their lives. In today’s passage, they were reading from the law. Through the priests’ explanations, the people came to see that they were falling short and they mourned.
At times we too read the Bible or hear a sermon or read a devotional book and we experience conviction or motivation. Maybe the passage is about loving our neighbor and we realize we have been less than loving to a coworker. Maybe the message is about forgiveness and it leads us to reconcile with a friend. Maybe the devotional for the day speaks of an act of generosity and we are inspired to clean out the closets so that we can donate some warm clothing to the local mission. God’s Word is active and living. When we spend time in the Word, reading or hearing it, it has to affect how we live our life as it builds our love for God. Through the Word, we also come to know God’s love for us.
Ezra does not leave the people mourning though. Instead he reminds them of the holiness of their gathering and of their ability to live out the Word. He helps them to see that when they are together, it is a time of blessing. The blessing is both from the time spent with God and from the time spent with each other as both build up their strength. As he sends them out to the feast to celebrate, he reminds them to continue to care for one another and to be in community. If a brother or sister is lacking, he reminds the people to provide for them so that they too can celebrate God’s presence and strength in their lives and in the community.
We too are called to hear and then doers of the Word. May our lives each day be a living expression of all that God places upon our hearts and then calls us to do as we continue on our journey of faith.
Scripture reference: Nehemiah 8: 8-10