It was during the time of the return from exile in Babylon. The time was somewhere around 530B.C. Nehemiah and Ezra, The Cupbearer and the scribe, were chosen by God to lead His people in the rebuilding of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah we find all the people gathering as one into a public square by one of the twelve gates in the wall around the City of David. They've gathered for one purpose and one purpose alone - to hear Ezra read the Book of the Law:
"1 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, 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 nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 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."
What you may not realize is that many of the people who heard the words of God that day, had never heard God's word before that day. The nation had been in exile for 70 years, many had died in exile and many had been born. Very few people were literate and even fewer were the number of written copies of the Law. And when they heard God's Word they experienced something that far too few people in America today experience. They were convicted in their hearts: "All the people wept as they heard the words of the Law." 8:10. They mourned because it was the reading of the law that revealed the heart and standard of God. It was the realization of God's standard and purpose that exposed the distance they had wandered from His ways.
We wander too. And just like Israel as a nation, so it is with us individually and nationally, if we forget the word of the God we will wander from His ways into exile. But the way back is always the same. It's a return. A return to God, which always means a return to His Word. Every revival in Israel included a reestablishing of the centrality of God's Law. The revivals of Church history, too, have included a renewed passion for Scripture.
That's why here at Calvary Wolfeboro, not only do we open our Bibles every week and "expose" the text through verse by verse teaching, but we are also beginning a new Wednesday night service where the reading of God's Word will take front and center. I believe there is power in the spoken Word. Not some kind of magical power. I don't mean that. I'm not saying it's like a witch's incantation or spell or anything like that. The Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews teaches us that "the word of God is living and active." And when we gather together and read the living Word outloud it does a unique work. That's the bottom line. So if you're in the Wolfeboro area and you want to experience the power of the spoken Word along with the power of praise and prayer, then join us for OUTLOUD:sing, read, pray - Wednesday nights at 7pm by the Rock at 43 Mill Street.