Nehemiah 8:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate.They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Lawbefore the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 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.
4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standingabove them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised theLord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear[a] and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
Scripture alone has the instructions to help God’s children lead holy lives. In order to know these instructions, we need to learn how to hear Him speak through His Word.
In the passage for today, we see the Israelites after rebuilding Jerusalem asking Ezra the scribe to read to them from the Book of the Law containing God’s laws. As Ezra blessed the Lord, the people’s hearts were stirred, and they worshipped the Lord. In fact the people were thankful and humble before the Lord by bowing down with their faces to the ground. The reading lasted for hours, and the people listened intently as the laws were read for them. They were focussed on understanding what was written in the Law of Moses.
The Book of the Law was written in Hebrew, and most of the Israelites who were standing there were in Babylonian captivity, and they spoke only Aramaic. Yet that did not deter them from listening to God’s Word. In order to help the people understand what was written, the Levites translated what was being read (Neh. 8:8).
Just like the Israelites, we need to understand what pleases the Lord so that we can obey Him. We should be good and attentive listeners who develop greater humility, gratitude and zeal for the Lord. And as we learn from Him, we should be prepared to share the Word and also to explain it, so that our listeners also can know God and obey Him.