Berean Break
Mar. 7, 2004 broadcast
And All The People Answered
by George Sinkie

     Good Morning and welcome to the Berean Break, my name is George Sinkie and I am so glad that you have tuned in to the program today. On today’s program we are going to learn some lessons that are taught in the Old Testament - not that we live under the Old Law but because God desires that we learn principles from it. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 15:4

   4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Before we go into this lesson, let’s go to God in prayer,

Great God and Father, We thank You for this day in our lives, We thank You for this time today, When we can share Your word.  Be with us that we will open our minds to Your will.  Thank You for Your Word that gives us all truth.  Thank You also for Your Son, Jesus.  Who died for us that we can be saved.  Help us to obey Your will so we can obtain that salvation.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray !!  AMEN !!

     The Old Testament is not the covenant that we live under today, but it still has a purpose for us today.  Those people who look at the Old Testament as merely “interesting reading” deprive themselves of a great blessing.  The Old Testament teaches numerous lessons that can be helpful in living the Christian life today.  One such example lesson can be found in Nehemiah 8:1-12.  Let’s look at this section of Scripture and see what we can learn.

     First, notice the assembly in verses one and two,

   1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel.
Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

     Did you notice how the people gathered together?  The people gathered as “one man,” indicating they possessed an attitude and atmosphere of unity.  Today, God desires that his people display that same unity.  Listen to the words of Jesus as He prayed to the Father concerning all who would be His followers, John recorded these words in John 17:22-23,

   22 And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them;  that they may be one, just as We are one;
I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.

     Also notice what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:10-11

   10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.

     Yes friends, God wants His people to be united.  Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the Bible’s teaching concerning unity.  Denominations often reach out to other denominations, proclaiming their desire for unity.  But Paul was not writing about unity among denominations!  In fact, denominations did not even exist at the time Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.  Denominations are all products of men and came much later.  Paul was stressing the need for unity in Christ’s church, not a denomination.

     Many people want to ignore their doctrinal differences, compromise the truth, and thus seek unity at all costs.  But how can we have the unity God desires?  Consider Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus, Ephesians 4:1-6

   1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
   2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
   3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
   4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
   5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
   6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

     When men discard their own creeds, catechisms, and opinions and instead choose to strictly adhere to the plain teachings found in God’s Word, unity will be possible.

     That leads us to another point we can see here in Nehemiah 8 concerning the assembly, the people which include men and women who had understanding, wanted Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses.  These people had a desire to know God’s Word. Imagine a dog running on a hot summer day.  Now can you see the dog, hot and tired after his exercise, sitting with his tongue hanging out, panting for water because of his thirst?  Friends, we ought to have that same thirst, only for God’s Word.  Consider what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:131

131 I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Thy commandments.

     Jesus also said in the Beatitudes, recorded for us in Matthew 5:6

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

     Do you have a hunger for God’s Word?  Do you seek out opportunities to hear God’s Word?  Do you study God’s Word regularly?  Do you read His Word often?  Only God’s word, nothing else, can satisfy man’s spiritual needs.

     Let’s go on now in Nehemiah and see another point. Notice these words from Nehemiah 8:3

3 And he read from it (that is the Word of God, GAS) before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand;  and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

     The people in Nehemiah’s day were attentive to what they heard, indicating they concentrated on what was being said.  They listened carefully.  Reading the Bible will be of no benefit to us unless we pay attention to what we read.
     Notice what the people were paying attention to – God’s Word!  Many people today are led astray because they pay attention to the words of men, contained in creeds and catechisms.  They pay attention to the philosophies of men.  They pay attention to the opinions of men.  But they fail to pay attention to the simple Word of God.
     Also, this text from Nehemiah teaches us that the Bible can be understood!  Many people fail to study the Bible because they believe they are incapable of understanding what it teaches.  For years religious leaders in man-made religions have promoted this false concept so that their rulers can maintain control over the people.  But friends, think for a moment.  What kind of god would give us a Bible that could not be understood by the common man?  An uncaring god!  An unloving god!  But the God of the Bible is not unloving or uncaring.  He wants us to understand His will for us!  God has given us a book that can be understood by the common man.  Notice Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus, recorded in Ephesians 3:1-4

   1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —
   2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
   3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
   4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ

     Don’t merely rely on others to tell you what the Bible teaches.  Go to the Bible and check it out for yourself.  Notice how Luke contrasted the Bereans with those in Thessalonica, in Acts 17:11

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

     Friends, another point we notice from our text in Nehemiah is the people’s attitude.  Notice Nehemiah 8:5-6

   5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God.  And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

     The people stood when the book was read.  This was a sign of their respect for God’s Word.

     Further, Ezra blessed the Lord.  The word “blessed” can have several meanings, depending upon the way it is used.  The word “blessed” as used in our text from Nehemiah, means “to speak well of or to praise.”

     Here we also see that when the word was read, the people answered, “Amen” meaning, “let it be done” or “let it be true.”  Friends, these people were in agreement with God’s word.  Sadly, many today choose to argue with what they read in the scriptures.  One example of this is when we read Mark 16:16

16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved;  but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

     Godly people will say “Amen, Amen” to that teaching, but most people I share this verse with, try to explain how baptism is not needed to be saved.  I even had one man give me a guarantee that baptism was not necessary for salvation.  Which would you trust your eternal soul to - God’s word or a man’s guarantee?  I choose God’s word.

     Our last point from our text is the people’s awareness of their sins. In Nehemiah 8:8-9

   8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God;  do not mourn or weep.”  For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

     The people were mourning because they had been convicted of their sins.  They had neglected God’s restrictions concerning marriage, failed to keep the Sabbath, and had forsaken God’s house.
     When we hear God’s word, we too ought to be convicted of our sins and mourn.  The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:10

   10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

     But same word of God that causes us to mourn can also bring us joy.  When we repent of our sins and make the necessary corrections, we can experience the joy of salvation, the joy of forgiveness, but we must obey God’s will to have this joy.

     What can we learn from Nehemiah?  We can learn that God expects us to assemble to hear His word, to give our attention to His word, to have the proper attitude toward His word, and to be aware of the changes His word demands of us.

      © George Sinkie; used by permission.
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      Unless otherwise noted, “Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. Used by permission.” or from the “New American Standard Bible. 1986 (electronic edition.) La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.”
      This article’s presentation in Exploring God's Word ©2004 David G. Churchill.
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