Friday, April 26, 2013

Nehemiah 8


[1] 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.
·         Now the people have gathered together on the feast, on the seventh month, which was less than one week after finishing the walls.
·         Normally the Feast of Trumpets came on the first day of the month, Lev 23:23-25, then the feast of the tabernacles Lev 23:33-44. Here the assembly gathers early to celebrate the feast of tabernacles.

[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.
·         They came to him and demanded that he explain the law to them, that he instruct them.
·         The walls were a spiritual wake up call to the people, and now they are turning their hearts toward God.
·         The reading of the scroll was required like this every 7 years, see Deut 31:10-13
·         Ezra is now mentioned for the first time in the book, his work was probably in building the wall

[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.
·         Children need to be in worship with us if this is true. The people who could understand came and stood for 6 hours from sun rise to hear the words of the law.
·         When you consider that the future of the nation depends on them listening and hearing and understanding, it makes more sense.

[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.
·         They are all here to assist in the exposition and explanation of the law. It’s not clear if they are all going to take turns or they all speak as experts at key times, or they then disperse into the crowd to explain as they went.

[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:
·         This is a unique instance. It’s not apparent that this happens anywhere else or is commanded anywhere else.

[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.
·         He probably read part of a Psalm, and the people affirmed it, much like 1 Chron 16:36

[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.
·         They 13 people are denoted perhaps as figures, or major leaders within the division of the Levities, as the Levites here also helped the people to understand

[8] So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
·         There would be much that would be different, the priests were helping the crowd to understand all the different aspects. The meaning of the text seems to be that they broke it down into digestible pieces. What was the idea of cities of refuge and what did it mean? They helped to show it’s relevance and clarity.
·         What happens next is a direct result of the exposition of the word of God: conviction of sin.

[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.
·         They were to begin the holidays and be thankful, but here the people are convicted of their sins and they cannot help but breaking down. The leaders actually had to tell the people not to mourn nor weep, it was not appropriate.
·         On the surface this seems wrong: anytime is a good time to be sorrowful and repent of sins. But it’s not. Jesus said the same thing when the Pharisees pressed His disciples about not fasting. Solomon said there is a time for every season.
·         The sections of Deuteronomy like the song of Moses I suspect caused them particular grief.

[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.
·         It was not yet time for mourning or of confessing sins. That was for the 24th day, where they would lay their sins on the goat and have it carried away for the year.
·         God punishes sin but rewards obedience. He was going to be good to them and show them great mercy.
·         Esther 9:19 has it that they were sharing with those who lack, which goes back to at least1 Samuel 1:4.

[11] So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.

·         God is a happy God, and does not want sorrow, which is why in the new Jerusalem there will be no more tears. He here equates Holiness with happiness. Holiness cannot exist in the place of sorrow.
·         Jeremiah 16:9-end is the fulfillment of them. The scripture was written about their circumstances, and w hat God wanted for them was good things.
·         Sin is ruin and misery, it only destroys, while the chief end of man is to enjoy God forever.
·         The command is in Deuteronomy 16:13 to be happy and celebrate this day with joy. To be sad is to disobey.

[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.
·         They understood the words God had given to them, therefore they went away happy.
·         When people came to Christ and heard His words with their ears and mind they rejoiced.

[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.
·         Day two the elders and teachers had come back. They needed to understand the words of the law better because their responsibility was to use it and teach it.
·         The nation will either be ruled with the law or without it. How they make practical rulings and understandings depends on how well they understand the commands here

[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:
·         This was practiced in Ezra (3:4), but perhaps died out.
·         It was on the second occasion that they discovered this aspect of the law that was overlooked.

[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.
·         So the leaders instructed them to go and gather the branches to build huts. This means they were working through Leviticus.
·         As it is written refers to how they are to carry out the feast

[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.
·         That is to say that everywhere a booth could be established, they were. The modern equivalent would be everyone lived in tents in their backyard.

[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.
·         They did celebrate the feast in previous times, all the way back to Solomon 2 Chron 7:9 (the feast refers to the booths)
·         They had not celebrated in such a large way, whereby everyone turned out for it

[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.
·         This was more than was commanded. Their enthuasism was unbounded in that they wanted to hear from God. Deuteronomy stated only 7 years.
·         The eighth day was not part of the fest, but it was to be holy and they were to abstain from work. Lev 23:36 has the command.

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