(Re-posting (again) an older blog that I needed reminding of periodically...I told my friend at lunch last week, I'm closing all books but the Bible for a while again...need to feast on the pure, unadulterated Word, the Scriptures Alone for a while...)
In Nehemiah, the people of Israel asked Ezra the Scribe to "Bring out The Book", the Book of the Law of Moses, and were attentive as he read from the Law of God from early morning till midday!
(see end of blog for Scripture passage)
Do you long for HIS BOOK?
Do you long for the people of God to long for His Book?
Today, it seems to me that churches everywhere are always anxious to have so-called "Bible-Studies" on the latest books from the New York Times Bestsellers List (or LIFEWAY for us Southern Baptists) by the latest "Christian Guru of the hour", and they get very excited about it.
Now don't misunderstand. I'm not against Christian book studies.
I'm all about reading and studying good books by good Christian authors, present and past. We may disagree on which books/authors are good, and which are not-so-good, but that's not my point here. (leave me a comment to discuss that - LOL).
My family and friends know that I always have bookmarks in several books, commentaries, and Study-Bibles at a time. I can't go to sleep at night without reading. I ask for theology books for my birthday, Christmas, for Father's Day, etc. I'm always going online & ordering new books whenever I get the time (or money-lol). My Dad & I exchange good books by solid Christian authors, scholars, and theologians with each other all the time. We both love books that Glorify God, and exalt Him. In fact, I'm out of bookshelves at home to store them, and am having to box some good books up for lack of space.
Dad & I have often talked about how, as good and helpful as these books are, they are no substitute for reading & studying the Scriptures daily. If I'm always reading/studying Godly books by Godly men, and neglect the Bible itself, they always leave me "wanting", and "hungering & thirsting" for His Word from His Book! (and we're not talking about gospel-lite type self-help books)
Books and Commentaries are excellent SUPPLEMENTS to, but not SUBSTITUTES for the Bible.
But where's the excitement in studying His Book?
How many times have you heard people get really excited at your church about studying a particular Book of the Bible? (Well, with exception of Revelation and maybe Daniel-which are certainly Books we should study...in fact, Revelation speaks of a special blessing for hearing/reading it). But we should love to study ALL the Books of the Bible. Not just the ones we think are "more interesting and/or sensational".
J. Vernon McGee once commented on the lack of real interest in deep things of God in one of his commentaries, which I own:
When I first came to California, the late Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein wintered out here in Pasadena, and I went to visit him. He asked me how I liked California, and I replied, “I love it here, but it’s very interesting that if I teach the Book of Revelation, I can fill the church (even during midweek service), but if I begin teaching the Epistle to the Romans, I can practically empty the church. I find there are people who will run all the way across this area to find out from a speaker just how many hairs are in the horse’s tail in Revelation.” He then made a statement to me that I shall never forget, “Dr. McGee, you’re going to find out in your ministry that there are a great many people more interested in Antichrist than they are in Christ.”In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews/Israelites had returned from captivity, and had been without God's Word for more than a generation.
J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
Thru the Bible, Volume V, page 47
They had heard, I'm sure, "about God", but they were hungry to hear "from God". The following passage gives the account:
Nehemiah 8 (ESV)...Ezra Reads the LawMay we say, as they did, "BRING OUT THE BOOK"
1And 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. 2So 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. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5And 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. 6And 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. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9And 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. 10Then 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." 11So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.