The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 19
“So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (Neh. 8:2-3).
For many people, good intentions of reading the Bible through begin in Genesis and end somewhere in the early chapters of Leviticus, where they quickly bog down in the dietary laws. That is a shame! It is at this point that God’s interest in the physical, social, and spiritual well-being of His people becomes extremely apparent. Then there is the book of Numbers, which describes the forty-year wandering in the wilderness, and finally the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy covers much ground of critical importance for following generations:
- Several major battles
- The giving of The Ten Commandments
- Instructions regarding communal interaction (sexual behavior, cities of refuge, inheritance, rebellious sons, marriage)
- Instructions regarding anticipated future events in the life of Israel
- Prophecies regarding the Messiah—the Prophet to come after Moses
- Statutes regarding worship (feasts, offerings, etc.)
- Principles governing warfare, captives, etc.
- The blessings and cursings
- Moses’ farewell speech
- Ordination of Joshua as Israel’s new leader
Many in church pews today know a bit about the Gospels and Paul’s epistles, but little of the Book of the Law of Moses. Larry Crabb, commenting on the need to know God’s story, says, “In 2006, after knowing Jesus for half a century, after years of active involvement in church, I realized I knew bits and pieces of Bible truth, lots of principles and lots of doctrine, but I didn’t know the story it told.” He further describes the dangerous consequences of not knowing the Bible and the story it tells: “Without story truth, I’ll flirt with atheism, struggle with unbelief, pray without passion (except maybe anger), remain devoted to my story, and continue in hopeless addiction to myself.” That’s exactly what happened to Israel!
Ezra leads Israel in a crash course, a massive Vacation Bible School, in Bible literacy. For seven days Israel stands and listens to the reading of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. As they listen, they begin to weep as they understand God’s promises to His people, their history of rebellion, and God’s mercy. God’s story is that powerful!
Few today know God’s story. Our culture suffers from our lack of Bible literacy. It is time again for the people of God to open their Bibles and learn His story.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Neh. 7:4-8:12):
Why do the people construct a platform for Ezra to stand on?
How do the people show their reverence toward Ezra and the proclamation of the Word?