Understanding the Word of God

"So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." (Nehemiah 8:8)

Most people—even most Christians—devote very little time to the Scriptures, complaining that they are either too hard to understand or too uninteresting. Yet, when Ezra read "the book of the law of Moses" to the whole congregation of Israel, he read "from the morning until midday," even "one fourth part of the day," and "all the people stood up" as he read (Nehemiah 8:1, 3, 5; 9:3). Such a scenario is almost impossible to imagine today.

Ezra's congregation evidently understood what he was reading and found it of vital interest. "For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law" (Nehemiah 8:9). For "another fourth part |of the day| they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God" (Nehemiah 9:3).

Yet all they had were the books of the Pentateuch! How much more concerned we should be, and how much better we should understand, when we have the entire Bible.

Note that Ezra and his colleagues simply read the Scriptures and gave a straightforward exegesis. That was enough to enable the people to understand, and this brought repentance, confession, and worship. No emotional appeals, no gimmicks, no technology, just the Scriptures—taken naturally and literally.

The Scriptures are not hard to understand—just hard to believe, and even harder to obey. Like any book, the Bible is intended to be understood, and its author—the Holy Spirit—was able to say what He meant. The secret is in the attitude of heart with which one approaches it. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. . . . Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:97, 104). HMM


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