READ Nehemiah 8:1-8
Now as Nehemiah’s project draws to an end, the people turn their attention in another direction. The walls are built, the gates are in, and the people are starting to re-settle in their homes. At this point they gather in front of the water gate, “as one man”, all with a common purpose, to hear God’s law. The people call for the prophet Ezra and what follows is the most incredible scene of revival. The people, hungry for the word, listen to Ezra read from daybreak till noon. That’s one long sermon! Then in complete unity they bow and worship God. Miraculously the nations’ gaze all at once turns back to God.
Can you imagine how incredible that would be if it happened today. If everyone in our town showed up at once, asking to hear God’s word, and then all bowed the knee in surrender to him? It would be mind blowing!
But none of this would have happened if certain things hadn’t first been put in place. Nehemiah didn’t arrive and immediately try to get all the people in line spiritually with God. No, his task was simply to help them build a safe city. Once this was done, the people came home and when they did they had a heart to hear God’s voice, a spiritual hunger enveloped them.
I wonder sometimes have we got it a bit back to front. With the best of intentions we try to help the world around us spiritually reform itself with minimal success. I wonder instead should we start where Nehemiah started, by building a home in God’s name for all people, a place where they feel safe and loved in a world so devoid of care and affection. I wonder if we created such a place collectively in our church and individually in our own homes would we find that as people entered, God would spiritually awaken them?
Nehemiah built a safe place for the people, the people came and God changed them from the inside out. May we see the same in our day.
Lord, help us to build a home for the people of our town, that they may come and find love and care, but most of all find you. Amen.