Nehemiah 8: The People Attend to God’s Word


What I am about to READ

The people are attentive to God’s word and celebrate what they hear.


The exiles had precious little instruction in God’s word. That they would hearken to God’s word and hear what He says in it, they compel Ezra the scribe (the same Ezra whose book bears his name) to come out and read from the books of Moses (Gen – Deut).  This shows the faith and piety of the people, namely that the people wanted to hear God’s word.  They even stand for hours to hear Ezra read from the scriptures (vs. 3).  We think hearing such a long sermon would be intolerable, but for people who are hungry for the word of God, standing for hours is not a problem.  They respond with the “Amen, Amen” of faith (vs. 6), which is that they believe that what is read applies to them and they claim it as their own.

When God’s people hear the word in faith, then the day is sanctified, just as Christians honor the 3rd commandment by hearing God’s word in Divine Service and by praising and blessing God. When the day is thus holy with God’s word the heart cannot help but be joyful and thankful to the Lord, as the people were when they heard the words of the law and wept (vs. 9). This joy spreads to others who have no joy, even as the people shared their meat and drink (vs. 12) for the day was a feast day, a holy day to the Lord.

The people who had formerly not celebrated Tabernacles, a principle feast commanded by Moses now begin to observe that feast with joy and thanksgiving, setting up booths on their roofs and in their courtyards (vs. 16).  The feast probably meant much to them now, for like Israel, they had spent time wandering away from home in Babylonia, and now observe the feast with new found vigor.

See what joy comes from hearing the word of God?  Where formerly there was fear and trepidation, now there is the promise of God, his blessing and peace.  In faith, God’s people re-institute churchly customs and observances, not as burdens to be fulfilled but joyful opportunities to be God’s people and hear his word. How much more joyful should the Christian be, who has not only Moses, but the blessings and promises of Christ?


Lord God, you know that I have neglected your word.  I have let it go by the wayside, preferring seemingly more important things. Forgive me.  Re-instill in me a love your word and promises that I too would say “Amen!” to your blessed word. In the name of Jesus. Amen.


Pr. Brandon Ross

Faith Lutheran Church – Johnstown, Colorado



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