Nehemiah 8:8, NIV
They read from the book of the law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
People often use the phrase which forms the title to this devotional – it doesn’t mean, did you receive a letter, a phone call, an email or a text? It means, “did you understand what I was saying to you?” The problem with much teaching is that the people hear the words but they don’t get the message! They don’t understand what it means or how to apply the teaching to their own lives.
Many years after the people of Israel had been defeated, and taken as prisoners into exile, Nehemiah was called by God to go back to the city of Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. He knew that they had lost their protection and covering as a nation because of their sin. He really got God’s message about the situation. ‘I and my ancestors – we have sinned,’ he said (Nehemiah 1:6 GNB).
Then after the wall had been rebuilt and the people were reoccupying Jerusalem he knew it was important that the people should rediscover for themselves what the law of God actually said. They wouldn’t want to go into exile again! So Ezra the prophet was told to get out the book of the law of God and tell the people what it contained. So he built a pulpit (Nehemiah 8:4) so everyone could hear what he said and ‘get the message’. Then the Levites, also, explained it to the people, so there would be no doubt about what it meant.
As soon as the people understood it, they immediately began to repent of their sins and there were many tears. But it wasn’t just a day for tears, it was also a day of joy. For God rejoices when His people ‘get the message’ and start putting His Word into practice and, as Nehemiah said, ‘this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ (Nehemiah 8:10).
Throughout the history of Ellel Ministries, and on every Healing Retreat and training course, we have sought to explain what the Word means to people at their point of need. Many times there have been tears as they have realised the mistakes they have made or the bitterness they have carried for so many years. But when people truly got the message of truth and applied it in their lives, there was always joy to follow, as they discovered that the joy of the Lord became their strength for life’s future journey. It’s worth ‘getting the message’ and really learning to understand what God is saying to us today through His Word.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Help me to understand it so that I can ‘get the message’ that You are proclaiming to the world and live it out in my own life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.