Ezra Reads the Law
8 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,[a] and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Have you ever been so struck with guilt that you just fell down and wept? It's not something that you can force. You can't fake it. It only comes naturally as the Holy Spirit uses the law to convict us of sin. Only if our ears are truly open to hearing his Word and receiving His discipline can this happen.
The Israelites had just returned from spending 70 years in captivity. We can only imagine the struggles they went through for those 70 years. Most of them who returned had been born into captivity and really probably had very little idea why they were even in captivity. The rest remembered what it was like to be free and longed for it every day.
When Ezra got up to read the law, I'm sure they were all in wonder and were eager to hear what God had to say to them, Eager, that is, until Ezra got to the part where God tells them that if they are careful to keep the whole law and obey God and keep his commandments, they will live long in the land the Lord their God gave to them. But if they do not keep the commandments, decrees, and laws they will not live long in the land, they began to feel the weight of their sin and come to understand that it was their own fault that they had been taken into captivity. When they heard things like ""You shall have no other gods" and Honor your father and mother, and "Remember" the Sabbath", it was like a huge weight was dropped onto their shoulders and they were filled with grief and shame.
I pray that you have, at one time or another, had this experience, only because it is how you SHOULD feel about your sin. The weight of the guilt of your sin should crush you. It should cause you great grief. You should be knocked to the floor in utter shame and disgust.
But don't stay in that shame and disgust. Notice what Ezra tells the people. He says, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Rejoice! Your sins are forgiven! Don't excuse sin. Don't make it less than it really is. Especially don't call sin good. But also know that because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the power of sin has been destroyed and you are free from it. Rejoice that the victory is won, and that you will be with Jesus forever!
Prayer: Lord, make me feel the weight of my sin and then lift that weight off of me by your mercy and grace. Amen.
Tues- Quilters 9-2; Bible Study 11:30-12:15; Council Meeting 7pm
Wed- Ladies Aid meeting at noon; Choir 7pm
Thurs- Newsletter deadline
Sat- Basement reserved; worship 5pm (Pastor Grund will be here.)
Sun- Worship 8:30 and 11; Sunday school 9:45; High School youth Bible Study 5pm
Acolyte- 8:30- Jack Bunge; 11- Jacob Cluver
Ushers- Marv Hendershot, Don Luebke, Dave Callies, Don Nolte
Altar- Set up- Marilyn Foster, and Sue Ruhl; Clean up- Lois Boeger
Elders- Sat- John Hachtel; 8:30- Jason Cluver; 11- Jim Rahn
Greeters- 8:30- Rob and Julie Schaumberg; 11- Dan and Lisa Rausch
Lay readers- Sat- John Hachtel; 8:30-Jacob Nagel; 11 - Jim Rahn
Sat. Pianist- Molly Hendershot
Organist- Rachel Fisher
Projectionists: Sat- (None, Pastor Grund here) 8:30- Alaina Heitgerd; 11- Zack Hoelscher
YESTERDAY'S BIBLE QUIZ: What did Joseph do to make sure his brothers came back after he sent them to get his youngest brother, Benjamin? He made Simeon stay behind.