Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 7-8
Today’s Reflection: Nehemiah 8:8
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
After the re-building of the wall and gates of Jerusalem was complete, the returned exiles from Israel were gathered before the priest Ezra for a reading of the book of God’s law. At that time this would have constituted the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses. The Word tells us that all the people who were able to understand were present.
Today, the Word of God, the Bible is read by a variety of people for a variety of reasons: some read it out of a sense of duty, some to prove their point-of-view is right or to justify their beliefs, some just see it as another piece of literature. But those gathered to hear the Word of God as read by Ezra saw it as a connection to their creator. They saw the book of God’s law was the way to life itself. It still is. We should read God’s Word with open hearts and teachable minds to hear what God would like to reveal to us. Here are three tips from today’s text on how to approach reading God’s Word:
Clarity: Ezra’s reading of God’s Word was clear to the people listening. Clarity is extremely important to all forms of communication, including Bible reading. For all of the King James Version purists out there, recognize there is no point reading a translation you can’t understand. While you will want to investigate the accuracy of the version you choose, be sure you find a Bible translation that is clear to you and that you can even enjoy reading. Also consider getting a study Bible with notes to facilitate even greater understanding.
Sense: Ezra’s reading gave a ‘sense’ of God’s Word. He interpreted it’s meaning to the people of Israel, in that place, at that time. Context is extremely important to the reading of God’s Word. A purely literal reading of the entirety of scripture would have us doing many things that made little or no sense today. But the correct interpretation of God’s Word, putting it in the right context, reveals a series of principles that continue to be relevant in our time.
Understanding: Ezra ensured clarity and sense so the people could have understanding. But understanding doesn’t just come through human comprehension. Before he began reading, Ezra prayed and invited God’s presence into the assembly (Ezra 8:6-7). The Bible was written by inspiration, which literally translated means ‘God-breathed’. It is this ‘God-breath’ that changes mere words on a page in to a living book capable of changing and transforming people. So the Bible must also be read under inspiration, and this comes from the Holy Spirit who is our teacher and instructor in God’s Word (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13). Be sure to pray for the presence, power and persuasion of the Holy Spirit (who is God, and is a Him, not an it) before you read your Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,