Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God that He has revealed in His Word, both Himself and the truth, concerning what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives. Pray that His Word would become as like gold to you.
- Confess your constant need of the Holy Spirit’s help when reading God's Word, that the truth would be made clear to you.
Doctrine for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 38 – What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
Answer – At the resurrection Christ will immediately raise up in glory all believers; he will openly acknowledge and acquit them in the day of judgement, graciously rewarding them according to their works of faith, and they will enter into the full enjoyment of God for all eternity.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – What an incredible thing it will be to experience resurrection unto eternal life. We need to understand and increasingly look forward to the prospect that awaits us.
Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
Philippians 4:6,7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you read God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 8:1-4.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 8:1-2 – Change of Focus.
There is a very interesting and significant change that takes place between the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8. The first seven chapters are written in the first person, it is Nehemiah who is recounting what is taking place, but now Nehemiah steps aside for a while. The narrative is written in the third person, and Ezra the scribe comes to the fore.
The focus of attention now shifts from the building of the walls to the building up of the people of God. This change of focus necessitated a change of leadership. Nehemiah was faithful, spiritual, courageous, and visionary, but he was a layman. The spiritual building up of the people of God needed the direction of one who was called to that office and ministry, and so Nehemiah is here seen 'standing aside in favour of another man, refusing to intrude into an office that was not his, but giving those duly appointed by God for the preaching of the Word their rightful place and function' (James Philip).
There is remarkable evidence in the first verse of chapter 8 of the way that the Almighty God had been working in the hearts of the people as they had been doing the hard, physical work of wall rebuilding. There is no other way to explain the fact that all the people 'as one man' gathered together and asked Ezra the scribe to read the Word of God to them. It is only when the Spirit of God works in the hearts of men and women that they have a desire for the Scriptures of truth. Ezra was asked to bring the book of the law of Moses - the first five books of the Old Testament that gave God's gracious revelation of His mind and will.
When God begins to put this kind of desire into the hearts of His people, it is certain that He is going to do a great work amongst them.
Ch 8:1-4 – The Word of God.
Ezra, described as both Scribe and Priest, was the man who was responsible for having the Temple rebuilt and so was a key figure in restoring the worship of God within the restored city. Ezra brought the book of the law to the people gathered in the square in front of the Water Gate:
a. Those who gathered were 'all who could listen with understanding'. Nobody was excluded from the need to hear the Word of God – no excuse would be accepted from man, woman, or child. It was not for those who had a high or profound theological knowledge or those who were academically gifted – ALL who had the ability to understand were to be there.
b. The Scriptures were read in the hearing of the people from 'early morning until midday'. This was not a brief or cursory hearing of the Word, and it seems as though the people did not complain or flag in their attention for we read that 'all the people were attentive to the book of the law’. When there is a heart for the Word of God, it is not wearisome to listen to it!
c. The people were so anxious that everybody should be able to hear the Word with clarity that they made a platform, so that the voice of the speaker would carry as far as possible. They made sure that there would be no hindrances for people wishing to hear the Word of the Lord.
d. As soon as Ezra opened the book of the law, the people all stood up, thus demonstrating a great reverence for the Word of God. They understood that this was not just a book of human composition but was the very Word of the living God.
It should be the desire of God's people that they have a similar respect for, and give similar attention to, the revealed will of God.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 102A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God for His Word and pray that He would put an ever-increasing desire in the hearts of His people to read, meditate upon and obey it.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC