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Friday, September 23, 2016

Outdoor Bible School (Nehemiah 8:2-3)

"So on the first day of the month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law."

Good intentions of reading the Bible through, for a lot of people, begin in Genesis and end somewhere in the early chapters of Leviticus where they quickly bog down in the dietary laws. And that is a shame. It is at that point that God's interest in the physical well-being of His people becomes extremely apparent. And then there is Numbers which describes the forty-year of wandering in the wilderness and then, Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy covers a lot of ground:
  • Several battles
  • The giving of The Ten Commandments
  • Instructions regarding communal interaction (sexual behavior, cities of refuge, inheritance, rebellious sons, marriage
  • Instructions regarding anticipated future events in the life of Israel
  • Prophecies regarding the Messiah
  • Statutes regarding worship (feasts, offerings, etc.)
  • Principles governing warfare, captives, etc.
  • The blessings and cursings
  • Moses' goodbye speech
  • Ordination of Joshua as Israel's new leader
Many in church pews today know a bit about the Gospels and Paul's epistles but little of "the Book of the Law of Moses". Larry Crabb, commenting on the need to know God's story, says, "In 2006, after knowing Jesus for half a century, after years of active involvement in church, I realized I knew bits and pieces of Bible truth, lots of principles and lots of doctrine, but I didn't know the story it told." He further describes the dangerous consequences of not knowing the Bible and the story it tells, "Without story truth, I'll flirt with atheism, struggle with unbelief, pray without passion (except maybe anger), remain devoted to my story, and continue in hopeless addiction to myself." That's exactly what happened to Israel!

Ezra led Israel in a crash course, a massive Vacation Bible School, in Bible literacy. For seven days Israel stood and listened to the reading of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. As they listened they began to weep as they understood God's promises to His people, their history of rebellion, and God's mercy. God's story is that powerful!

Few today know God's story. And our culture suffers from our lack of Bible literacy. It is time once again for the people of God to open their Bibles and learn His story.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Psalm 146
  • Why can't trust be placed in man?
  • What has God revealed about Himself and done that should create trust?
Psalm 147
  • How does the Psalmist illustrate the Lord's greatness?
  • What delights the heart of God?
  • What has God done for Jerusalem and how does this instill hope in today's believer?
  • What distinguishes Israel from all other nations?
Nehemiah 7:73b-9:37
  • What happens on the first day of the month?
  • How long do the people (and who all were involved) listen to the Word being read?
  • How do the people show their respect for the reading of God's Word?
  • What role do the Levites have?
  • How do the people respond to what they are hearing?
  • As the daily reading continues what do the people discover that they had been neglecting to do for many many years? How do they respond?
  • What happens on the 24th day of the month (three weeks have passed since Ezra began the public reading of Scriptures)?
  • Make a list of the events Ezra records in his praise message.
  • What does Ezra say about God?
  • What role does the Holy Spirit play in what is taking place? What does this tell you about the Holy Spirit?
  • What happened to Israel when reading and teaching of the Book of the Law was overlooked?
  • What does this reveal about the Word of God?
Turning truth into prayer
Determine before the LORD that you will learn His story and be able to tell His story to others. Ask the Lord to plug you into His story in such a way that people will ask "Who is your God? We want to know Him!"