December 8, 2017. So Your Called to Minister—Studies from Nehemiah
Nehemiah 8:1-10 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
The walls are built and the gates hung, and others are starting to return to Jerusalem. Most of the people haven’t rebuilt their houses, and the temple was destroyed. Ezra the priest and scribe have returned and as they stand on a raised platform by the Water Gate, begin to read the Book of the Law. The Water gate was so named because of an underground stream that flowed. The Talmud, rabbinical teachings, record this as the Temple Mount. This may not be the same location as today. One of the discussions the present site of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome on the Rock, thought to have been the site of the first and second temples, the location has no natural source of water, a necessary part of the old sacrificial system.
The people weep as the Word is read, but they were told not to weep but rejoice, go away and celebrate, but don’t forget the poor. Ezekiel, in a vision, says, “Ezekiel 47:1-5 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.” Not only does the water get deeper, but wherever it flows, it brings life.
I believe that the platform Ezra was standing on was symbolic of the walls and the gates of the city. It was a spiritual foundation for revival. Before the Word will ever be heard in Asheville, or in your city, we have got to rebuild the moral fabric and establish the government of God at the gates of the city through prayer and intercession. Only then will the Word be heard and the water of life flow through the city and out to the surrounding land.