When God’s Word Is More Important Than Food Or Drink
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 Law before 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.
After God sovereignly helped Nehemiah and the returned exiles rebuild the wall in fifty-two days (amidst threats of physical harm from their enemies, threats of false reports sent to the government, and spies leaking intelligence of their progress to everyone who would try to stop the work of God), the people wanted to hear the word of God. They told Ezra that they wanted to hear from the God who had helped them. Should not our first response to assistance from Almighty God be to seek our benefactor out to hear what He has to say?
The group gathered wasn’t just a few who wanted to hear; this was the entire community: men, women, and everyone who was of the age and with the capacity of understanding God’s holy word. The people didn’t have to be coerced into going, or enticed with anything apart from the desire to hear from their God. If only all the people who call themselves “Christians” had this same mentality – to eagerly desire and hunger for the word of God and its understanding…
Ezra didn’t wait until after everyone had the opportunity to get plenty of sleep, and leisurely get ready to be present at the reading of the word of God. Ezra began to read at daybreak, when it was light enough to read in public without the assistance of light from man. Not only did he start reading the moment that he could, EVERYONE was gathered and was ready for him to read the law of God the moment that he could.
They gave up the first fruit of their day – the first half of their day – to hear the law of God. There was nothing more important to them than hearing and knowing God’s law at that time. In our modern fast pace of life in the Western World, how many people would willingly gather from daybreak until noon to hear the word of God, let alone be attentive to it for the first half of the day?
The Bible records that the people listened attentively to the law of God as it was read. How do we fare with that? When we read the word of the living God, do we listen attentively to what it is saying? Do we just skim over it and fill ourselves with the good feelings that we have accomplished our reading (daily or otherwise), and move on with our day? Do we take in and comprehend the deeper truths of scripture? Do we apply what we have learned? What level of comprehension, let alone implementation, do we allocate and achieve for this most important task?
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Do I so hunger after God’s word that I would stand outside for the first half of the day just to hear it?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, I say in my heart that I love You, and that Your word is more important to me than anything else. Help me to truly mean it my following through with my actions. Give me the desire, ability, and follow-through to spend more time in Your word and with You each and every day. May I more greatly desire the bread of life and living water than my own portion of food and drink each day. Help me to have such a longing in my innermost parts that I cannot wait to open Your word and dive deep into it. Like David, help me to pant like a deer for water for time with You. Help me to put everything in perspective, so that I can honor You in this way. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.