And all the people listened
attentively to the Book of
Nehemiah 8:3b NIV
While reading Nehemiah 8 this morning, I was intrigued by the chapter caption inserted by the publishers of my Bible. It reads “Reforming the People.” While reading the previous chapters my thoughts focused on the restoration of Jerusalem and not reformation of any kind.
I wanted a clear picture of what God was saying so I pondered for a while. The difference soon became clear. To restore means to bring something back to its original condition. If you restore a broken vase, you pick up the pieces and glue them together. The vase is together, but the cracks remain.
When you reform something, you make it better than before. By removing errors or problem conditions, the old becomes better than new. An alcoholic becomes sober. A law becomes more effective.
So, while Nehemiah set about to restore Jerusalem, God set about to reform the people. They were called together to hear the Word—The Book of the Law. Nehemiah 8 reveals they ALL stood for the reading of the Law, they lifted their hands in praise and bowed down to worship the LORD. They began to receive instruction in the Law, and it was made clear to them. That clarity enabled them to understand. The people wept!
I imagine the weeping covered areas of personal sin, national sin and grief for years and years of loss both personally and as a nation. But on that day, Nehemiah instructed them “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the people ate, gave food and rejoiced.
With their city restored and the people repentant and reformed, they celebrated.
Thinking about all of this made me hungry for the “reformation” of America. How I long for a time when God’s Word would be respected and obeyed among our fellow countrymen.
Then I remembered, it begins with me and my family. It begins with our local church and our community. It is up to me to “spread the Word” to those with whom I come in contact. It is up to God’s church and people to read and obey His Word and encourage those around us to believe and trust in Him.
As God’s Word spreads across our world, it is not for sinners alone, but a call for God’s people to reform, come back to Him, leave the worldliness behind and focus on the Father. Will you join me in praying that God will begin with you and with me in this process of reforming the people?
© Joyce Powell