Key points from the sermon:
Revival begins not when a leader brings the Word, but when people crave the Word (Neh. 8:1). For 13+ years, Ezra has been praying and cultivating a hunger for God’s Word. Long before that, God had commanded times of feasting and celebration and remembrance that He might cultivate in His people a rhythmic, consistent hunger for Him! In this passage, they’re celebrating the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23); they’re coming together hungry for God’s Word.
We see in v. 3 that God’s people were attentive to God’s Word. In v. 4, we see that the platform was “made for the purpose” of amplifying God’s Word. It was not about lifting up a man, but lifting up God’s Word and making it known.
In v. 5-6, we see a posture of reverence, humility, and worship among God’s people. We see a response to God’s Word that is typically (in our culture) reserved for songs. Worship is not just a style of music. All of life is worship. Blessing the LORD, shouting “Amen,” rejoicing, lifting hands, and bowing heads - if this characterizes our response to songs but not to God’s Word, we need to seriously consider whether we’re responding to truth or to a tune.
We are meant to hunger for God’s Word because God’s Word reveals God. Our appetites are fickle, our affections are easily shifted. God knows this. He knows our temptations to crave what seems good, but not that which is truly good. It is why He sent us God the Son, Jesus. The Word made flesh. The Bread of Life. The Living Water. God has given us the good stuff, the truly satisfying stuff in Jesus, that we might stop craving the junk that this world offers. By feasting on God through His Word, we are being prepared for an eternal feast where the main course is God’s presence and glory.
Scripture to meditate on this week:
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” -Psalm 119:103
What do you notice in Neh. 8:2-6?
The “ears of all the people (Israelites) were attentive to the Book of the Law.” Church, what are our ears turned to? What has our attention?
Describe the people’s response to the reading of God’s Word in verses 5-6. Is this convicting? Why or why not?
Is God’s Word “sweeter than honey” to us? How can we honestly evaluate the appetites of our hearts? How is Jesus good news when God’s Word isn’t “sweeter than honey” to us? What does this look like in community?
This week let’s practice craving God’s Word. Remembering that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4), let’s consider fasting one meal and replacing it with the reading of God’s Word. Let the hunger pains remind us of the eternal feast that God is preparing for us (Isaiah 25:6), that we would be a people ready for revival!