There are times through the history of God’s people – whether it be the Jews in the Old Testament, or indeed the church in the New Testament, and even still today … when God’s word has been misunderstood, neglected or shelved. However, the living and active Word of God, transcends time and is always relevant for every generation.
When it comes to the Bible, we ought to be bewildered by the immense expanse of God’s provision in His Word. Think about it, there’s …
- Profound knowledge contained in the wisdom literature
- Insight, foretelling things yet to come in the prophetic
- Exemplary worship described in the Psalms
- The Law revealing humanity’s sinfulness
- Warnings to us in the apocalyptic books
- Life coaching in the gospels and epistles
- The explanation of our mission for the church in Acts
- It is also poetic and expresses God’s love
- In the total sum of its pages, our Bible defines the true nature of God
- This is a book full of history and mystery, as Jesus is revealed on every page.
Our Scripture today (Nehemiah 8), is the heading towards the culmination of Nehemiah’s story, here’s a bit of background information. Nehemiah was a man of vision, but His people and the city were in ruin and defeated, morale was wiped out and they had no hope for anything to change. When Nehemiah found out how bad things had become, he prayed and sought God for a solution. God responded, giving Nehemiah instructions on how to move forward and Nehemiah was sent to do something new, to build on what had been broken down and so, revival began among the people.
What is revival? In this context, revival means a reawakened interest in the things of God among the people. Revival comes from an improvement in the current condition of our attitude towards God, and we see Jesus become popular and important to us once again. Revival can be personal when we take our relationship with God seriously, as we live out our faith with joy and enthusiasm, praying for the Holy Spirit to inhabit our lives. Though this personal revival, comes the restoration of the church itself, to a vital and fervent love for God after a period of decline. Revival is not religion, it’s not about doing church, revival is about knowing God and a sincerity of seeking Him and finding Him in His Word and through prayer.
When we talk about revival and rebuilding the church, we shouldn’t be looking for Him to recover what used to be, longing for ages gone by, but we look to Him to do something new, fresh and exhilarating. Just as He was doing in the hearts of the people in Nehemiah chapter 8. Verse 3 says all the people stood there and listened to the Word of God from daybreak to noon, that’s how passionate they were to know more. There’s a saying, ‘a Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase’.
Nehemiah’s story is a great lesson for us as he shows a perfect example of how to rebuild that which is broken down, and how to do it God’s way. If we want to see revival, we first need to experience revival in our own heart. Seeking after the things of God with integrity and enthusiasm. That means, very simply we begin to get excited about the Word of God and all we read in it. And then we pray God’s word back to Him, for it is powerful and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 12.4).
The truths contained in the Bible are fascinating, meaningful, inspiring and it all comes alive as we allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, with revelation of what God is saying to the church today. And we can only get excited about these things, if we know what they are. And we can only know what they are, if we read them in the Bible. Charles Swindoll once wrote, “News articles may inform us. … Novels may inspire us. … Poetry may enrapture us…. But only the living, active Word of God, can transform us.” There’s no book like it. Amen, amen.
Lord, with grateful hearts we acknowledge all that You have given us, for the example of Jesus, for Your Word to show us what we need to know about You. For your mercies that are new every morning, and for the privilege to talk to You in prayer. With humble hearts we offer our praise to You, and hold fast to our confession of our faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour, amen.