By Charles Stanley
Nehemiah 8:1-18 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. 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. 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. 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. 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: 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. 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. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
How is it that two people can sit in the same pew, hear the same sermon about the same portion of Scripture, and walk away with two different reactions? One is joyful and the other is unaffected. I think the reason is that some people do not know how to listen to the Word of God.
Nehemiah 8 is an amazing scene of God’s people coming together to hear His Word. Remember that they didn’t have individual copies of Scripture to read. For generations, the events of Genesis through Deuteronomy were passed down from parent to child. Moreover, the people had been in captivity for many years. This was the first time most of them heard the Word read. Imagine their excitement as they listened attentively for the Lord to speak to them.
The Israelites were hungry for God’s Word. Are you? Do you listen eagerly and with an expectant mind and heart? The length of a person’s attention span is directly related to the intensity of his hunger for something. If you crave to know more of God, then your mind is going to be fastened on what He’s saying through your pastor or your personal reading. And the reality is that nothing in the world matters as much as what the Lord has to say.
So many things clamor for our focus but few truly deserve it. The Lord is worthy of nothing less than our undivided attention. He has something to say to every person. So whoever listens to God’s Word with an open heart and alert mind will receive from Him.