During Sunday morning’s service one of the ministers mentioned that particular occasion in the Old Testament where the Book of the Law had been lost, and how when it was found, the people stood from morning until evening as God’s Word was read to them. I was stricken as I remembered that story, and I forced myself to be honest. Would I stand all day to hear God’s Word being read? Is It that important to me? Do I cherish the Scripture to that degree? Do I come even close?
We’re planning a crusade–just a local meeting–but in doing so, we have talked and planned and considered the music to a great extent. Music is important, not only to us who already know Jesus, for it is deeply moving and can be of soul-stirring depth, but it certainly is to those whom we want to attract, those who do not yet know the Lord. After choosing the preacher for this event, the subject of music has been in the forefront of our planning and discussions. Nothing wrong with that for we must be realists, and we’re wanting lots of people to attend these services. Our goal, of course, is to reach the unsaved, and we believe music will be a powerful attraction.
Being scaldingly honest here, though, I wonder about our regular services and about our personal worship. I wonder about myself. Am I more in tune with music and emotion than with God’s Word? Am I more moved by anointed singing than by anointed preaching? Do I spend more time with music than with His Word? Do I consider it more important?
I believe I am honest in saying I consider there is nothing as stirring as is anointed preaching. But how about the clear, unadorned reading of the Word? Would I be as moved–or even as apt to even be there–for an hour as someone read into a microphone the actual words of the Bible–verse by verse, chapter by chapter. How about two or three hours…or a full day? Would we do that? Would I?
As I thought on this and studied this morning, I read again the 8th chapter of Nehemiah, and bring it for you to think about. These Israelites listened to the reading of God’s Word for eight days. Eight days! …and they were glad, they were happy about it. Now I suspect along the way, someone might have picked up a tambourine, or slapped together a couple of cymbals, or danced or sang with a clear high voice. Look at verse 12:
And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
But it was the Word that was the emphasis. They rejoiced, had a celebration, because they had understood God’s Word. Think about that today…as certainly, I have.
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
13 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.
14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.
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