"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, October 23, 2023


INTRODUCTION: The LORD’s abilities to restore and rejuvenate are remarkable. His recalling to life of that which is dead is unparalleled to the feeble attempts of man. When Israel was chastened by GOD for their apostasy, their beloved city was ruined, their temple destroyed. Seventy-five percent of the Jewish population was dead. The majority of the remainder was enslaved, brought to a foreign land, and remained there for seventy years.

They were all about worshiping the foreign gods of the pagans, so GOD saw to it that they were found neck deep in idols and their worship by the pagan population of Babylon.

Daniel realized while reading the prophet Jeremiah (DAN 9:2) that his people’s time of captivity was almost over, and that led to his ardent prayer in chapter 9.

Now in the book of Nehemiah (and Ezra) we are witnessing the LORD’s mercies and His faithfulness to His people – not for their sakes, because they were a rebellious people – but for His Holy Name’s sake (EZEK 36:22). And he heard such prayers from Daniel and Nehemiah, humble, repentant men of GOD that stood for their people in intercession.

By the providence of the Almighty, the restoration of the city of Jerusalem was completed. Now the greater work begins: to transform the hearts of the people, and thereby secure the triumph that the LORD intends towards Israel!
1 ¶ 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense and helped them to understand the reading

“The book of the Law” – This is the very Word of GOD, not only the specific Law as given by Moses. PSALM 119 shows all of the various renderings that refer to Holy Scripture: “Law…precepts…statutes…word…commandments…judgments…testimonies, etc.” Ezra opened the book in the morning: the best time of day to delve into the Truth of GOD, to establish one’s course for the day!

Rosh Hashanah (“Yom Teruah”), or Feast of Trumpets is mentioned here and signifies the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar year. It means “the beginning of the year” (See LEV 23:23-25; NUM 29:1-6; EZEL 40:1). It’s the traditional anniversary of the creation of the world and the creation of Adam and Eve (the first man and wife).

Ten days after this sabbath feast is another sabbath: the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”) in which every soul was to afflict themselves (LEV 16:1-34; NUM 29:7-11) in a spirit of penitence (and only in the sense of grieving for one’s own sin, not in offering payment for our sin by punitive acts afflicted upon oneself).

Ten is customarily the biblical number for Law (and Order), so it’s interesting that after ten days of Rosh Hashanah there is this time of mourning. The Law is our school teacher that teaches us that we don’t have what it takes morally to please or even serve GOD (GAL 3:23-24). We are spiritually bankrupt with not two pennies to rub together (MATT 5:3-4; ROM 7:18). The soul that realizes this will mourn over the truth that the Law conveys: that we are guilty criminals who are charged by the Holy Throne of GOD with eternal condemnation (ROM 3:19).

When the Holy Law has served its purpose in condemning us for our rebellion and sin, it then falls to the Holy Law as well as the Holy Spirit to lead us to justification through Christ:
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus
(JOHN 16:13-14).
Here in the book of Nehemiah, the Jewish nation still awaited the coming of the Messiah Who would save His people from their sins (MATT 1:21; ACTS 4:12; 5:31; 13:23,28). At this time, the people had their sins “covered over” but not taken away:
HEBREWS 10:4-6, 9-12
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.

9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first [Mosaic covenant] that He may establish the second [New covenant]. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
It was only once every year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) that the High Priest alone, could enter into the Tabernacle, and into the Holy Place and into the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat (the lid that covered the ark) were kept.

Yet he could only venture into that Holy of Holies after many sacrifices, exchange of garments, washings, prayers and other ceremonies. If he did everything precisely according to the Law, he was allowed into that sacred place and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat, thus covering the sins of the people.

If he violated one precept, one prescription, one ordinance in preparation for entrance into the Holy of Holies, he would be struck dead (“The wages of sin is death” ROM 6:23a). Sewn into the hem of the garments of the High Priest were bells that would continuously ring as he ministered in the Holy of Holies. The attending priests would wait on the other side of the veil that separated the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place and listen carefully: as long as they kept hearing the tinkling of those bells, all was well.

But if the sound of those bells went dead, then so was the High Priest!

Do we understand the enormous, mind-boggling privilege we have as New Testament saints, that because of the sacrifice of our LORD Jesus, we are free to approach the Most Holiest Throne of GOD any time of any day with our prayers and praises without all of that ceremony and preparation?

The LORD Jesus has granted access to our Abba Father GOD, having paved the way of holiness with His own blood! THANK YOU LORD!!!

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.

I don’t think it’s coincidental at all that the reading of the Word of GOD took place there, in front of the Water Gate. It could have been the Sheep Gate, the Horse Gate, or any of the other Gates, but it was at the Water Gate that the Word of the Law of the LORD was read to the people:

The LORD washes us, His bride with the Word, symbolically represented as “water” (EPH 5:26; see also ISA 55:10)!

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.

Those who exalt the Word of GOD, GOD will exalt, just as we see Ezra here raised up on this platform. Only the humble of heart will see the inestimable value of the Holy Bible, and revere it to the highest place, even as GOD exalts His Word even above His own name (PSALM 138:2)! And we know that the LORD exalts the humble in display of how He will promote those of such a heart and demote the proud and haughty (PSALM 138:6; JAMES 4:6-10).

These people heard the Word of the LORD and stood up (NEH 9:5), themselves raised up for their willing hearts that heard. The Scripture was read to them probably for more than four hours straight, raising their hands, bowing their heads, laying prostrate on the ground (vs. 3). Today we find it difficult to get people to sit still for a 40 minute teaching!

…the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding… the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense and helped them to understand the reading.

It is the joyous duty of elders and pastors to present the Word of GOD to the saints, particularly those new and untaught in the Scriptures, and to help the congregation understand what they teach.

This is why GOD grants such gifts to the church; every saint who has the indwelling Spirit of GOD in them are taught by the Spirit (1 JOHN 2:27) and additionally GOD gifts those who are able to teach others (2 TIM 2:2):
8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended" --what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ—
Once a soul is justified in Christ by faith in the Gospel, that soul is then brought from the evangelist to the pastor/ teacher who will feed the new born saint, instruct them in righteousness, disciple them in the Word and aid them in the process of sanctification (1 PET 5:2; 2 TIM 3:16-17; JOHN 8:31; 17:17; HEB 2:11).

The people were helped to understand:

PSALM 119:33-36
33 HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 ¶ Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.

The more one gets into the Word of GOD, the more delight is experienced by those who cherish it! Note that understanding alone is not the end but the means by which one may “keep” and “walk” in (that is, obey) GOD’s commandments (MATT 7:24)!

PSALM 119:104
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

Had Israel kept GOD’s precepts, they would never have fallen in with the false ways of the heathen. They would have kept the Word of GOD in their hearts, so that they would not have sinned against the LORD (PSA. 119:11)!

9 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. 10 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." 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

When a nation is pleasing to the LORD, that nation is blessed (PSA 33:12). Ronald Reagan was once quoted as saying, “A nation no longer under GOD is a nation gone under.”

Here we have Nehemiah representing the political (as governor), Ezra representing the spiritual (as priest and scribe) aspects of Israel. Both are intent on pleasing the LORD, doing all in accordance with the Law (the Word of the LORD).

Their admonition to the people is that of holiness and joy; refrain from sorrow (this was indeed a “godly sorrow” that accompanies repentance; 2 COR 7:10) but partake of feasting – “eat the fat, drink the sweet” and share your bounty with others. There are some who view holiness as a drudgery, a burdensome obligation of do’s and don’ts’s. Holiness is simply infusing the life of Christ and His nature into the saved soul and conforming that soul to His grace and truth, His love and gentleness, His sense of justice and mercy, His purity and righteousness.

Only one who has “taste[d] and [seen] that the LORD is good” (PSA 34:8) will understand the joy, the rest, the contentment of this! In the joy that only comes from the LORD JESUS can the saint partake of strength that surpasses Samson’s!

As goes the saved soul, so may the State – if such a State (a nation) will repent of their sin and turn to the LORD in heartfelt repentance.

While the Scripture in 2 CHRONICLES 7 applies directly to Israel, I believe the principle behind repentance of any people and the LORD’s favor upon those people are applicable as well (EZEK 33:11; JON 3:10).

NEHEMIAH 8:13-15
13 Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written."

Now in the second day of the month the people of Israel were led to construct “booths” for the Feast of Tabernacles, that is, shacks or huts (in various court areas among the several gates of Jerusalem, or on the roofs of their own houses), made of wood that would allow the wind to blow through and the stars to shine. The idea here is a commemoration of their time in the wilderness wanderings when the LORD miraculously provided for them. It was something of a cross between ‘camping out’ and our national holiday of Thanksgiving.

We as the people of GOD ought always to be thankful to the LORD, for His incalculable blessings in the physical, financial and spiritual aspects of our lives. It’s the saint that walks in the ways of GOD that will know the fullness of blessing.

The lost and rebellious souls are blessed of GOD (MATT 5:45).
The child of GOD who by virtue of the spiritual rebirth is blessed of GOD even more (EPH 1:3).
And that child of GOD Who is walking in the Spirit, abiding in Christ even as He abides in us, following after the LORD is blessed all the more so as they bear much fruit to the glory of GOD (GAL 5:22-23; JOHN 15:8)!

The PSALMS are full of offerings of thanksgiving, praise and gratitude, and as we keep our hearts in this attitude, we will never grow bitter, resentful, envious, covetous or discontent.
PSALM 30:4-5,11-12
4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

PSALM 136:23-26
23 [He] Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever; 24 And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever; 25 Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever. 26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever.
We are thankful not just for how the LORD has blessed us with various material and spiritual blessings, but also for the Blessing of all blessings:

The LORD Jesus Christ Himself – our mediator, our propitiation, our redeemer, our sanctifier and counselor and the best and most faithful friend, our teacher and our LORD! His love is blessing enough! I can be poverty stricken, but because of His love, I count myself the richest man who ever lived!!

I recall a poor Mexican woman who caught the attention of a church here in Tucson. She lived south of the border in a hovel of nailed together tin, wood and cardboard with dirt floors and no plumbing. The one thing she had that she valued most was a sign above her door that said, “With Christ – everything. Without Christ – nothing.”
Her new house was built that provided ample shelter and protection from the elements and running water; while she was thankful to the saints who built it, she wasn’t as thrilled as they thought she’d be. Why?

Because above any and all material blessings for which she was truly thankful, she gave far greater praise and thanks for what she already had: the love of her Savior!!

As we New Testament saints reflect on the Feast of Tabernacles, we are reminded that we are living in booths of our own: houses that we spend a life time in paying off in mortgage payments. As well as these, bodies that were once exuberant, healthy, and hale (many of our youth today are dumping so much of their financial resources into “getting buff” (and exercise for physical health IS important!) but for all the investment in money, time, effort) where will it all be 100 years from now?

Now homes and bodies are in need of constant maintenance, and the rate of decay is getting faster in the latter half of our lives than any endeavors of repair or even maintenance!

But those houses are not truly our homes; nowhere on this planet is our home. And these bodies will be traded in one day for far superior models.

This is why we ought to keep a light touch on the things of this world:
1 TIMOTHY 6:6-12
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I recall the old song by Jeremy Camp: “You can have all of this world, JUST GIVE ME JESUS!

The choice isn’t even a legitimate one in my mind: either temporarily enjoy the things of this world to their fullest sensation, mixed with sorrow, struggle, strain, suffering and sin OR to forego the pursuit of these sorts of gain, and focus rather on building up our account in heaven, investing in the eternal kingdom, and on that Blessed Day when we step across the threshold between this fallen world and the glories of heaven, and see our precious LORD, with those eyes of love, and be lavished with reward for faithful service (which we couldn’t have possibly have accomplished apart from the LORD’s empowering grace) that will last for eternity…

…with which we shall glorify the Name of our LORD and Savior – now to me, THAT’s HEAVEN!!! Any other way will inevitably lead to the flames of hellfire.

The only logical choice is JESUS!

NEHEMIAH 8:16-18
16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. 18 Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Ephraim means “fruitful” and in any endeavor we engage in for the Name of the LORD, we desire fruitfulness; that’s how GOD is glorified in our lives (JOHN 15:8). Israel had long since erred in that they neglected their relationship with the LORD and in the building of His Kingdom. They were instead, focused – self-absorbed really – in the embellishment and enhancement of their own lives. They forsook the widows, the orphans, the poor, and enriched themselves with summer homes, luxuries, their “best life now” and accredited their prosperity to false gods.

This so closely parallels our own culture that it’s downright uncomfortable. And for all of our luxuries, we attributed them to our own American Dollar, to “the greatest country in the world” and to the god of Self.

America has forsaken GOD, and GOD therefore has forsaken this nation – and we’ve only begun to pluck the rotten fruit of this hellish harvest!

In the days of Nehemiah, the people were repenting, and it began with the teaching and preaching of GOD’s Word. Then the people responded. And where they didn’t respond in an appropriate way, Nehemiah stands up and calls them into account.

I’m grieved to say, I think the time for America to repent has passed. This land has been inundated with the Bible and its teachings in every form imaginable, and while the work continues, hearing hearts are becoming fewer, and churches that teach a popular and positive message have all the crowds.

These are like the false prophets of old that declared Israel is “GOD’s people [true!] and that no judgment will fall upon us [false!] and we shall vanquish our enemies in the name of our GOD [false!].

Jeremiah stood alone in declaring the coming of GOD’s judgment and defied the multitude of false prophets who were seen by the people as “loyal patriots” and decried Jeremiah as “a traitor to his country”.

GOD knows the righteous, and is well able to separate them from those under His judgment (2 PET 2:7-9). So while we will witness the fall of America, we who walk with the LORD and trust in Him, will be delivered.

Let us also understand however, that judgment begins at the house of GOD (1 PET 4:17)! That He will clean house with His saints first before He deals with the lost. May this encourage us to turn to the LORD with a full heart, repent of any known sins, and determine with intention to follow after Him in all of our ways!

Let us be reminded that we are “traveling through this world of sin” but that one day we “The saints [will go] marching in…” to Glory!
1 PETER 2:11-12
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

HEBREWS 12:28-29
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

May whatever we build, may we do so for the LORD’s glory, for if we are yielded to Him, we will discover that those things were built by the power of GOD that dwells in us!


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