Nehemiah 8; 9:32-38; 10:28-33; 13:1-3 — Israel committed to revival
Some sixty years had passed since the temple had been rebuilt in Jerusalem. God’s people had grown careless and cold in some critical aspects of their calling as children of the covenant. God had been at work among them, fanning the embers. He needed certain men to be in Jerusalem to guide Israel further toward revival. But those men were in Babylon.
That was no great obstacle to the Almighty, of course. He had two men in mind to lead them back to Judah. Both of them were strong yet humble leaders. They each had a heart for God and for His people. God gave them a passion, a vision, and a plan for renewal and restoration. He used them as a team for righteousness and revival, building on the foundation laid by Zerubbabel and Jeshua in the first return.
Though He didn’t send them to Jerusalem at the same time, God eventually had them there together. God called and used Ezra and Nehemiah to accomplish His work among the repatriated Jews.
God brought a tremendous revival among His people through the influence and service of these two godly men.
God’s Word Leads and Feeds Revival
Nehemiah 8 offers us a view of one phase of that revival, a phase that grounded them in the Law. The people had gathered together, apparently for the Feast of Trumpets, and asked Ezra “to bring the book of the law of Moses.” This interest demonstrates that God had already been at work in their hearts. Now they wanted to hear from their “instruction manual” for how to walk before God as His special people.
Ezra read to them from God’s Word, from daybreak til noon! And his audience stayed focused and attentive all that time. They truly wanted to hear from God. They did this every day for at least a week. It was a time of seeing God and seeing themselves, of mourning and rejoicing, of repenting and cleansing. It had been a long time since God’s people had allowed Him to work in them to such a wonderful degree.
Committed to Personal Revival
In Nehemiah 9 we see more evidence of their brokenness and tenderness before God. These people truly were committed to revival. They separated themselves from the heathen and their idolatrous abominations. They also separated themselves from “all the mixed multitude.” They returned to honoring the Sabbath. In summary, they renewed their covenant with the LORD. In fact, they personalized the covenant by putting it in writing and signing it.
(I excerpted the above from what I wrote for Bible 910 Lesson 9 in the new Sunrise Edition of CLE Bible 9.)