An Example of Hearing God’s Word
At Nehemiah chapter eight, the people asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law and read it unto them. A wooden pulpit had been made for that purpose, and when Ezra laid the book upon the pulpit and opened it, all the people stood up in what was an apparent demonstration of respect for the Word of God.
They that gathered were described as those that could hear with understanding. As the law was read, the people spoke saying "Amen", voicing their agreement with the God-given principles. And, as the law was read, it was read and communicated distinctly, and the sense of it was given, so that all were caused to understand the reading, and all gave their attention to it.
As I read over these thoughts, it seemed to me that I was reading what was not only a record of how the ancients received God’s word that day, but also an example of how we should receive it if ever we are to benefit from it.
The fact that the people asked for the law to be read to them indicates that they had a true desire to hear and know God’s will, and they demonstrated their respect for it by their keen attention to it and their verbal "Amens" spoken in response to and in acknowledgment of it’s truth.
None of us will benefit from God’s word until we learn to desire it and respect it as well. Many claim respect for the word of God who at the same time willfully violate it. No one ever demonstrated faith to God or respect for His word who would not respond obediently to that which it teaches. The fault for misunderstanding, though, should sometimes be laid at the feet of those who would be teachers of the laws of God, but who have taught error, whether for the cause of genuine misunderstanding on their part, or the defense of a false doctrine they refuse to abandon.
In Ezra’s day, he and other faithful teachers gave the law of God distinctly and gave the sense thereof; none of their personal opinions or previously adopted beliefs came through in what they taught. Having desired, respected, heard, and believed the truth, the people bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord.