Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Home

Study No. 7   PROGRESS IN SERVICE  

Nehemiah 8/1-18

INTRODUCTION.   This is the last in our current series of studies on Nehemiah. The wall of Jerusalem has been completed in just 52 days! However, the story is not over yet. In these closing chapters Nehemiah is joined by Ezra, the Scribe, and Ezra reminds the people of something of their history and their commitment to God.  

1.Before we look at this last session, it might be helpful to remind ourselves of those qualities and attributes of Nehemiah which encourage and challenge us. What have you learned from him so far as Christian service is concerned? 

2.Read verses 1-18 of Nehemiah 8 and familiarise yourself with the setting.  

3. Sometimes in Christian service it is all-too-possible for us to overlook the centrality of the Word of the Lord. In other words, we get so busy doing that we neglect time alone with God so we can listen. This was to be a special day - a special period - in the lives of those people.  

a. Who initiated the reading of the Law?(v.1)

b. How would you describe the response of the people? (vs.5,6)

c. There is evidently more to understanding than just reading. How did Ezra ensure that the people understood the Law?(vs. 7,8)

d. What words are used to describe the reaction of the people when the Law was read? (vs.9,12, 17)  

5.The remainder of the chapter relates to a special feast called the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths. (See historical notes at the end of this session) 

a. Do you think we Christians celebrate our faith as we should do?

b. What kind of celebration do you think would be appropriate in the light of all God has done for us?  

6.Read Acts 8/30,31. It was important to Philip that the Ethiopian not only read the book of Isaiah but that he should understand it. How did Philip ensure that the Ethiopian understood?  

7. All of us would agree that understanding the Bible is vital if we are to obey it. Suppose someone asked your advice as follows: “ I have been trying to read the Bible. What can you suggest that will help me to better understand it?” 

8.Hearing and understanding are important. However, if they do not lead to doing their value is largely lost. Let’s leave Nehemiah and go across to James 1/22-25 and note the directives that are given there.  

PERSONAL CONSIDERATION AND APPLICATION  

9.Has God been stirring your heart in a particular area of obedience as you have read His Word lately? How would you respond to the question, “What is the next thing that God wants me to do in obedience to Him?” 

SOME HISTORICAL NOTES THAT MAY HELP YOU  

Feast of Tabernacles The fourth annual festival was the feast of tabernacles (2 Chron. 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Zech. 14:16), also called the feast of ingathering (Ex. 23:16; 34:22), the feast to the Lord (Lev. 23:39; Judg. 21:19). Sometimes it was simply called "the feast" (1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chron. 5:3; 7:8; Neh. 8:14; Isa. 30:29; Ezek. 45:23,25) because it was so well known. Its observance combined the ingathering of the labour of the field (Ex. 23:16), the fruit of the earth (Lev. 23:39), the ingathering of the threshing floor and winepress (Deut. 16:13), and the dwelling in booths (or "tabernacles"), which were to be joyful reminders to Israel (Lev. 23:41; Deut. 16:14). The "booth" in Scripture is not an image of privation and misery, but of protection, preservation, and shelter from heat and storm (Pss. 27:5; 31:20; Isa. 4:6). The rejoicing community included family, servants, widows, orphans, Levites, and sojourners (Deut. 16:13-15).

The feast began on the fifteenth day of Tishri (the seventh month), which was five days after the day of atonement. It lasted for seven days (Lev. 23:36; Deut. 16:13; Ezek. 45:25). On the first day, booths were constructed of fresh branches of trees. Each participant had to collect twigs of myrtle, willow, and palm in the area of Jerusalem for construction of the booths (Neh. 8:13-18). Every Israelite was to live for seven days in these during the festival, in commemoration of when their fathers lived in such booths after their Exodus from Egypt (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:15). The dedication of Solomon's Temple took place at the feast (1 Kings 8:2).

After the return from Exile, Ezra read the law and led the people in acts of penitence during this feast (Neh. 8:13-18). Later, Josephus referred to it as the holiest and greatest of the Hebrew feasts. Later additions to the ritual included a libation of water drawn from the pool of Siloam (the probable background for Jesus' comments on "living water," John 7:37-39) and the lighting of huge Menorahs (candelabra) at the Court of the Women (the probable background for Jesus' statement, "I am the light of the world," John 8:12). The water and the "pillar of light" provided during the wilderness wandering (when the people dwelt in tabernacles) was temporary and in contrast to the continuing water and light claimed by Jesus during this feast which commemorated that wandering period.

Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.