Nehemiah Chapter 8
"The First Day, the Book Opened and Read."
Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's
Nehemiah 8:1 "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate: and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel."
There is something very important in this verse. Do you remember the water gate? The water gate is very near the tower of Ophel. Go back to Nehemiah 3:26; "(Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.)" This is right in the presence of the Nethinims where the records are kept and the liturgical duties are done, and it is quite obvious that the religious order is set for their convenience.
The Book of the laws of Moses, are the first five books of our Bible, and these books tell us that these Nethinim have no business anywhere near the house of God, let alone handling any of the duties that God gave to Aaron and his sons for eternal generations.
Nehemiah 8:2 "And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month."
This seventh month is the start of the fall feast days. Those are the feast of the trumpets, the feast of the harvest, the feast of the unleavened bread, and so forth, as recorded in Leviticus 23:23-25, for this seventh month.
Nehemiah 8:3 "And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the People were attentive unto the book of the law."
Here we have the Book of the law being read, and the Nethinim on the stand even turning the pages for Ezra, and they are helping out in every way they can. God warned of this and we should take a closer look at this. Jesus Christ instructed John in Revelations 15:3 that those of the elect will know [sing] the Song of Moses, and this is recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43, this makes the "Song of Moses" part of the New Testament, and something that we should pay attention to.
Moses wrote his laws over a thousand years prior to this time of Nehemiah, and by this time, there is very much wrong with the entire situation in the Temple in Jerusalem. Under the laws of Moses the penalty for these Nethinim even being in the presence of the Temple, not alone taking part in any of the duties of the Levitical Priesthood was death. We saw in the last chapter that Nehemiah recognized that even being present in the Temple, and not being authorized by the law meant death to those doing so.
But here we see that these prophets are allowing these Nethinim to do what God forbids; Why? It is tradition. This tradition was mostly developed, and accepted during the time of captivity, It is all part of the traditions of men, and those traditions have continued up to our present day.
Lets go back to Deuteronomy 31:11, and see where it all started. "When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing." On the sabbatical year [seventh year] all the people of Israel come together and this law is to be read to them. This law is to be read to all that are capable to hear and understand what is being read.
Deuteronomy 31:12 "Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:"
"Fear the Lord your God", is better translated "revere the Lord your God", that is to love and respect Him. Though God knew that the people would not continue this, as we will see in a little bit, Moses passed this order on to Joshua. We see that Joshua followed the order of reading and following the law, however as soon as Joshua died, the people never returned to this order to read and respect the law. When Joshua died God promised that He would never cleanse the Temple again, and told them that they were on their own.
Then when Jesus walked the earth, and it is recorded in Matthew 23:2, "The scribes and the Pharisees [these Nethinim] sit in the seat of Moses" The scribes have taken over the duties of the law, the word of God, and they took it from Levitical priests, who have long since left the area.
Deuteronomy 31:13 "And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it." This land that they were going to was Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, some thousand years prior to Nehemiah's time. Friend, this is also referring to a time in the future, when all Israel will return to Israel in the Millennium age, and just like then, they will be taught to love and respect the law.
Deuteronomy 31:14 "And the Lord said unto Moses, "Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge." And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation."
Deuteronomy 31:15 "And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle."
In other words, the Spirit of God was present for the meeting, and God promised that He would lead Joshua, and he was the last to be promised of the leading.
Deuteronomy 31:16 "And the Lord said unto Moses, "Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them."
God is telling Moses and Joshua that he would die, and the people will enter into the promised land, and that they would go whoring after the strange gods of the heathen that now posses the land. This is looking to the future of Moses, and that future continues right to our present day. We see then within this that the people of Israel will allow the strangers, or the Nethinim that went to the land prior to the time of Abraham, to take over God's order, and that they would follow after the heathen gods and traditions of these Nethinim. These heathen practices are the "men's traditions" even respected by the offspring of Israel [not just the Jews] today.
So we see that the bringing in of the Nethinims started much earlier then Nehemiah's time, and the allowing them to handle the things of God, and Israel allowing these Nethinims to drag in their Satanic customs and traditions, and substituting the whole thing as being "of God". When Jesus made his statement in Matthew 23:2; He followed it with the eight cursings of God. He called them everything that was perverted for allowing these these Nethinim to take over the doors of the church, and calling themselves "servants of God", yet in fact despised the Word of God.
Deuteronomy 31:17 "Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, "Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?"
Have you ever heard said, "Why doesn't God ever hear my prayers?" Friend, you have the answer here. Have you gone to sleep on your religious rocking chair, and listen to a bunch of spiritual windbags telling you, You don't have to understand God's word, just listen and believe, and fly away with us.
Friend, why do you think God spent all of this time and effort to give us His holy word, and then you allow some spiritual jelly bean tell you that it doesn't amount to anything. What is taught as the "word of God" today has been placed there by the Nethinim many years ago, and when you hear and act on those lies, it is no wonder that God doesn't answer your prayers. The traditions of the church will leave you biblically illiterate with respect to the entire word of God.
Deuteronomy 31:18 "And I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods." God is telling us that they simply don't know what they are doing.
Stop and analyze your own position, and all the traditions that you and your church accept as being of God, when in fact God speaks out against them. These include things of religious holidays that come form pagan worship, to forms of idolatry, and even excepting things as Sodomy and abortion as being something that a Christians can play around with, when God states how He hates it all. Today the people accept the lies of the Nethinims as facts of God, strictly because the preacher said it.
Deuteronomy 31:19 "Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel." This song is the "song of Moses", and it is a song that the very words itself are a witness against those who do not understand God's word. They follow the traditions of men.
Deuteronomy 31:20 "For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke Me, and break My covenant."
Friend, this is what Ezra and Nehemiah faced, and it is what is going on today. God has kept His promises that He made with Abraham, through His covenant, and when the people get blessed by God, they turn away from Him, and allow the Nethinim to lead them to their heathen gods.
Deuteronomy 31:21 "And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware."
Christ made this song part of the New Testament, in Revelation 15:3, and this song will be sung by those that overcame the devil, Satan, the Antichrist, and they knew the difference between the two Christ's, the first which was the fake, and the true Christ which shall come at the seventh trumpet. Friend, if you don't know the "song of Moses", how would you ever expect to be in the group of overcomers? Christ made it very clear in Revelation fifteen that you have to have the knowledge of this song to be an overcomer, and we are living in the generation that it is becoming a must. That song is recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43.
This song of Moses will be given at the end of the Book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 8:4 "And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam."
These men were all hand picked by Ezra, and they were all priests that Ezra had confidence in. There are about forty thousand people attending here, and this is an example of what should happen the a church.
Nehemiah 8:5 "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the People; (for he was above all the People;) and when he opened it, all the People stood up:"
Ezra opened the Book of the law, and read from that book. He didn't talk about politics, or his family dog, or any fairy tales, He open the book and read from it. The reason for the men on the stage with Ezra is that they were witnesses that what Ezra was reading was truly from the word of God. When Ezra read from the book, they all stood up in reverence to God's word.
Nehemiah 8:6 "And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered "Amen, Amen," with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground."
Ezra is opening the reading with an opening prayer, he blessed God in thanksgiving. When the man of God approaches the pulpit this is what he should be doing opening in prayer, and reading from the Scriptures accurately.
Nehemiah 8:7 "Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Addub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the People to understand the law, and the people stood in their place."
These men are priests and teachers of the law, and they were in the crowd. Then as the law was read, they went to the people as they stayed in their place. They circulated within the gathering of the people, and answered their questions, and clarified the word as it was read. Ezra the scribe read the Word of the law, and these priests and teachers caused the people to understand that word, as it was read.
Nehemiah 8:8 "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."
These priests duties were to see that everyone knew the simplicity of the word of God. Why study the Word of God, if you don't understand it? What is the purpose of any study time when you don't understand what is being taught? You meet the proper tools for getting the job done, and the job is the understand just what God is trying to tell you. You need to have not just the proper tools, but also how to use those tools. A good teacher will show you haw to use those tools to get at the root meaning of the word taught.
I use the Companion Bible, because it is the best Bible that I have found in dividing the Word of God. It keeps you up on just who the word is talking about, and outlines each chapter and book, so there can be no confusion. It gives the time sequence, and the subject and object being addressed. This Bible is adequate for any Bible student. Then along with this Bible, there is only one proper study concordance to go with the King James Bible, and that is the Strong's Concordance, numbered to the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, along with the Greek dictionary. This numbering system eliminate most of the confusion that comes in finding the root meanings of biblical words and expressions.
The only reason for the priest to go before the people was to cause the people to understand God's word. In the expression, "gave the sense" meant in the Hebrew, divided the sentence to make sense. It was to separate each thought and idea to be considered and understood within itself. That is to understand the subject and the object, and exactly why God had said these words. To get this you need a gifted teacher, on that is gifted you the Holy Spirit, and understands the entire word of God, and how it all fits. It is not the man that teaches, bu the words that the Spirit gives through the man. This is what will give life and meaning to all of God's word, and that word becomes separated in time. It gives reality to you, regardless what century you live in.
Nehemiah 8:9 "And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the People, said unto all the People, "This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not nor weep." For all the People wept, when they heard the words of the law."
Nehemiah is the Governor [Tirshatha]. A "priest the scribe" is a priest that understands the manuscripts, and is able to copy them.
Nehemiah 8:10 "Then he said unto them, "Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Ezra told them at the close of the service to go their way, eat well and share with those that have no food, and rejoice in the Lord. He reminded them that this is the day set aside to joy in the Lord. What day is it? no it is not the Sabbath, but the first day of the week [Sunday]. The day of restriction by the Sabbath law was the seventh or Saturday. This is why we worship today on the first day of the week, it was a time for study and understanding.
Nehemiah 8:11 "So the Levites stilled all the People, saying, "Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved."
The Levites got the people to quiet down so they could listen and hear what was to be told them. Then they were told to be happy for this was a holy day. This is a happy day when we can listen and understand what is being taught from God's word, for with the laws are the promises of many blessings that we can receive for following what we are taught from His holy Word.. The test of any teacher is whether or not his students understand what is being taught.
Nehemiah 8:12 "And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them."
Taking care of the poor was a common practice from the vary earliest days, and this is what they did first. They did this to "make great mirth", or receive great happiness; why? Because they understood the words that were declared unto them." Those words were God's words, and today the living Word is Jesus Christ. That is why every day today is a good day.
Nehemiah 8:13 "And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law."
Nehemiah 8:14 "And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:"
This is referring to the "feast of Tabernacles". This is in reference to Leviticus 23:39-43. We have one Passover and that is Christ. Many of these feast days were nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ and His blood became the covering, or atonement of many of these feast days. However the meaning of those days were all wrapped up in Christ when He became those things.
Nehemiah 8:15 "And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying "Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees to make booths, as it is written."
Nehemiah 8:16 "So the People went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the houses of God, and in the street of the the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim."
Nehemiah 8:17 "And all the congregation of them that ware come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness."
This verse points out what a sad state of affairs that the Israelite people had become in the eyes of God. This was the very first time in over one thousand years, all the way back to the time of Joshua, who was in the wilderness with Moses and came out of Egypt, that the Israelites had done this act, as God had commanded them to do.
In the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:15; "But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, And lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation."
"Jeshurun" [the upright] is the supplier to the so called good times of the world. This points out that when our people get too successful in the duties of life, they forget God, and forget just who made him, and gave him their salvation. This is calling attention to these booths that the people are going back to after Ezra's reading and the meanings were understood.
The reason for the feast of the Booths, was to make a simple hut out of sticks and branches, and live in them for a week, to remind themselves of their time in the wilderness when God took care of their every need. As the people made their booths, and spent their time in that booth, they meditated on the words of the law that they had just come to understand. It was a time of separating themselves from the many blessings that God gave them, and concentrate of the Giver.
This is a time to think back of all the problems of the past, and the trials and testings that our people have gone through to get where we are today, and then use those reflections to grow stronger in the Lord.
Nehemiah 8:18 "Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner."
All the people of the land kept the feast of the booths, and stayed in their booths for the seven days, both day and night. Then on the eighth day they all came together in a "solemn assembly", which meant that they did no work, and restrained themselves from all activity, and followed out the manner that God had intended the feast days should be kept. Truly this was a time of spiritual refreshment. It would be compared to a Bible camp today, where for one week only the Word of God is taught, and where each person applies that word to himself only. The cares of the outside world are set aside, and all thought is on God's word, from the very beginning, from Genesis 1:1, to the "Amen" at the end of Revelation.
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