Friday, August 3, 2012

how do you treat the Word?

Nehemiah 8:1-9 records the Israelites that returned from exile gathering within the newly rebuilt walls of Jerusalem to hear the Book of the Law (the Word of God) read aloud. As I read this, I was struck by the importance placed on this by the people's response to the reading of it. It was clear that this was considered something important to them.

These verses in Nehemiah record that all who could understand gathered and listened attentively (vs. 3). We're told that they read it from daybreak until noon (vs. 3). Ezra, the priest who was reading it to the people, was on a platform built for the occasion so that all could see and hear him (vs. 4-5). The response that the Israelites had to the reading of the Books of the Law is also recorded:
  • the people stood up as Ezra opened it (vs. 5)
  • the people worshipped God (vs. 6)
  • the people wept as they listened (vs. 9)
This wasn't something taken lightly by anyone involved.

As I've thought about this event as recorded in Nehemiah, I've found myself reflecting on how I treat the Word of God in my life. Unlike the Israelites in this time, I have the ability to own and read the Bible myself. I don't have to wait for the priest to read it aloud.

Looking at my bookshelf, there are eight different Bibles on it. And then, there's the two I use more often on the end table in my living room and on the kitchen table. And then there's all the translations I can find online with my computer or my phone. I have lots of access to God's Word. Really, I have no excuse for not picking it up more often when I have all those options available.

But, the reality in my life is that I still don't give God's Word the place of importance it should have in my life. I'm more likely to pick up one of my other books to read when I have some extra time. And the times I do pick up my Bible, it can just as easily be to cross that requirement off my list rather than be because I actually want to read it.

As I've reflected on these verses in Nehemiah, I've found myself challenged to treat God's Word differently. I need to value it in my life. I need to make it important in my life. I want to have a response to it like the Israelites had here. When I read Scripture, I want my heart to respond.

 What about you? How do you treat the Word of God? Do you need to place a greater value on it?

My prayer as of late has been for God to increase my desire for His Word and soften my heart to what He has to say through it. It's my prayer for you as well. If that is your desire, can I challenge you to pray for it everyday?

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