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The Scriptorium

What Do You See?

In the mirror of God's Word. Nehemiah 8.1-12

Return from Exile: Nehemiah 6-9.3 (4)

Pray Psalm 19.12-14.
Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Sing Psalm 19.12-14
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Who, LORD, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
O let my thoughts, let all my words, before Your glorious sight
be pleasing to You, gracious LORD, acceptable and right.

Read and meditate on Nehemiah 8.1-12.


1. How did the people respond to the reading of the Law?

2. What did they end up doing?

Twice in Scripture the Bible is referred to as a mirror. First, in James 1.23, 24: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” Here, James assumes that, when we look into the Scriptures—reading, meditating, studying, hearing it preached and taught—we see something about ourselves that needs correcting. We see our sin, and this should lead us to weeping and sorrowing, as it did those people who heard Ezra reading the Law of God for half a day (Neh. 8.9).

The second place is in 2 Corinthians 3.12-18, where Paul likens the Law of God to a mirror, displaying and radiating the glory of Christ and having power, by the Holy Spirit, to make us more like Him. This is the corrective Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites brought to the people. Yes, they should sorrow for their sins—and we know they had plenty—but they must not remain there (vv. 11, 12). Rather, they must go on to see the glory of God in His Word, the promises of forgiveness and life and blessedness; and they must get in step with God’s Word, loving Him and their neighbors as His Law directs. And so the people did.

When we truly understand the Law of God, and all His Word, these two responses should be present. We will be sorry for our sins, so much so that we will confess and repent of them. And we will rejoice to see Jesus, to lay hold on His transforming power, and to go forth loving our neighbors with the grace and mercy of the Lord. This we will do when we truly understand the words that are declared to us from God’s Law (v. 12).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Rejoice greatly! Indeed, what could be more worth rejoicing over than that! It is what we long for, for ourselves, for our children, our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, neighbors, fellow church-goers, and all those in our Personal Mission Field.

We will carefully and distinctly read the Word of God, asking the Holy Spirit for understanding.
We are then able to share the Word of God distinctly and carefully with others, praying that the Holy Spirit will give them understanding of it. Then they pick up the work of reading the Scriptures distinctly and carefully for themselves, understanding it through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then pass it on to others, to do the same. It is how all believers get a correct sense of what is written in this Word of God.

We are called to do the same work that Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites did for the all the men, women, and children who could understand (Neh. 8.1-12).

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3.16, 17).
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1.19-21).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thought and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12).

That Word of God without which we cannot live. That Word, through which we learn of Him: “…so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17.27, 28).

That Word which gives us the sense of what God wants from us and for us (Eph. 2.8-10). That Word that tells us of His Law (Ex. 20.1-17).

That Word Who has the Words of eternal life (Jn. 6.68). “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life” (Ps. 119.50). “Lord, ‘Increase our faith’” (Lk. 17.5).

“And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh. 8.12). And for the same reason: We Rejoice!

For reflection
1. Do you have a friend or prayer partner with whom you regularly talk about and share from the Word of God? Why would this be a good idea?

2. How can believers encourage one another to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly every day (Col. 3.16)?

3. Whom will you encourage in this matter today?

The word of God demands attention. If through carelessness we let much slip in hearing, there is danger that through forgetfulness we shall let all slip after hearing. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Nehemiah 8.1-9

Pray Psalm 19.7-11.
Thank God for His Law and all His Word. Ask Him to help you see yourself more clearly and Jesus more continuously as He speaks to you from His Word.

Sing Psalm 19.7-11
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
the simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet;
be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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