The power of God's Word. It is something that I pray I never lose sight of, or a hunger and passion for. For so many, myself included, God's Word has at times been more of a burden and a boring task than it has been the life blood and source of power from God's throne in my life. But when I find myself in those desert times I often wonder, Why is it that this has become such burden? Why is it that I can find time to do any number of a thousand different things and yet I cannot find time to read God's Word, and open myself to the power of it washing over me and my life?
God's Word helps put God in his rightful place; on the throne. Today we read, yet again, about the nation of Israel coming back to the Lord and having that "ah-ha" moment when it comes to his Word. They act as though they are hearing it again for the first time. For Israel, at best, it is something that they have heard of or know a little bit about. They have a few pet verses that they like to quote and like to make others fit the context of their situation whether it fits or not. At worst they have never heard it but know it as being something that previous generations seemed to think was important.
Think back to the "first's" you may have experienced in life. The first time you hit a home run. The first time you hit a golf ball. The first time you climbed to to top of a mountain. The first time you experienced love. The first time you conquered one of your fears. The first time you held your newborn baby. The first time you had a real experience with God. The first time you....
Something happens in those moments that cause something to stir inside of us. It causes us to lean in, to want more. We begin immediately wanting to experience it again and again and we don't want to lose the feeling that comes with it. It is a powerful thing.
God's Word is likewise a powerful thing that can draw us in, cause us to hunger for more of it and even make us rearrange our lives for it. We begin to see things in the light of his truth and we begin to see how dark our lives have really been. Its like seeing the world again for the first time.
This is what is happening in Nehemiah 8. Ezra brings out the Law (God's word) before the assembly of the nation and he started reading. The Bible says that "all the people listened attentively". They were hungry. They were having the world shown to them again for the first time and they couldn't get enough of it. As we read later the power of God's Word began to shape and remold their hearts to the point of weeping and mourning for what they had done. God was working miracles in the hearts of his people and it all came through the reading of His Word. His Word was cutting to the heart of the issue and His people were responding. It was a beautiful scene.
Later we read that they renewed the covenant with the Lord and that they committed to 9 things in that covenant. (Neh 10:28-39). But sadly it only took a matter of years for these recently returned exiles to break most of them (Neh 13). They forgot God's word and they began to get comfortable in their new situation. The more comfortable they got the less they needed God and his Word.
The analogy is not a difficult one for us today. Sadly, we are now living in a time when more people in the church don't know what the Bible says than those that do. It is the most Biblically illiterate the Church has probably been in modern times. And yet, speaking for America, we have an average of 4.3 Bibles per household in this country. We own more Bibles as a people than any other nation and yet we have no idea what is in it and culturally speaking, are not very concerned with living life as it instructs us to.
It is hidden in plain sight and yet we are blind to the very power that it holds. Like Israel, the word of God was with them and in front of them throughout their history and yet they time and again lost it, forgot about it, ignored it and despised it until they hit rock bottom as a nation and realized that they needed to learn again for the first time the ways of the Lord.
And when they did their eyes were opened again to the the world for the first time.