This will be my last entry in this devotional blog, and it’s been good to follow along with everybody. I’ve learned a lot, and been encouraged by many of the devotionals. Today’s reading seems to be a good time to revisit one of my passions: the importance of Scripture.
Following the completion of the labor in repairing the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah doesn’t stop there. He is interested not only in Israel’s economic and political health, but also in it’s spiritual health. Ezra the priest begins a public reading and preaching campaign, to a people who have been in exile for 70 years: the people in front of Ezra quite possibly hadn’t heard what was written in the Law for several generations. I imagine it had probably become a theoretical reference point that people knew existed but hardly anyone actually had read. There were probably rules that people had taken out of it that were passed around but nobody really knew whether that was actually from the Law or just made up by someone. Whatever the case, the people were eager to hear what the Law actually said, and were struck to the heart when they heard it. It motivated them to rededicate themselves to God, and to submit themselves to His lordship.
Reading the Bible has a significant effect, I think we all can agree. It’s how we know God’s voice, how we can be encouraged or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before, and the most reliable evidence of what God is really like. It is the most valuable thing I think we humans have ever been given. I’m blessed to be able to work for Wycliffe USA, a Bible translation organization that is involved in translating the Bible into the nearly 7,000 languages used around the world. I consider it to be among the most vital, fundamental works going on in the world: evangelism, church-planting and humanitarian missions are important, but all of them can go only so far in advancing God’s kingdom unless people can read the Bible and apply it for themselves. Working here has given me a greater appreciation and a greater love for God’s Word and for what it can do in people’s lives. It allows each of us to approach God on our own and study His Words spoken to us, personally.
As we enter the new year, I am planning to be more intentional in studying God’s Word; this past year I’ve started slacking off, I have to confess. Regular reading, thinking, meditating and applying what we read in the Bible is essential for our spiritual health, and I hope and pray that you will continue to be impacted by God’s Word throughout this next year.