Are you hungry for the book? I have to ask myself the same thing, “am I hungry for the book?” I am not talking about any book. I am talking about the word of God, our guide book. The book that gives us hope, encouragement, teaching, training and correction. The only book we have that truly teaches who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are! Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”
I have a great appetite, many cravings and I long for so many things. But these cravings and longings are not always for the word of God. They are not always for God Himself. There are so many things that vie for our attention and command obedience to them. But as blood bought believers our longings and our cravings should be for The God who saved us and called us with a holy calling.
When we turn our faces away from God and go in our own direction we find ourselves in a place that is foreign, scary, and hard. Our longings and fleshy appetites are deceptive. Just like Eve, we are tempted to doubt God which shows our lack of fear and trust in Him for our well being. If we are not listening and seeking the guidance and direction of God we will find ourselves like Israel in captivity to our enemy. The wonderful sad thing is, God gives us clear concise instruction, for our good and His glory. Yet, we still look at other things and try out the world just in case God’s way is not the right way.
I want to take a look at Israel and use their disobedience to God and His word as an example for us to look at. I pray God puts repentance in our hearts, a longing for the pure milk of His word, and a voice that cries out, “GIVE ME THE BOOK!”
A DISOBEDIENT ISRAEL
God had chosen Israel for His own possession. He had delivered them out of slavery in Egypt and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. God gave them the covenants, the Law, the temple services and His promise of the Christ. He gave them everything that they needed for life and godliness. With the covenants and the Law came consequences for their actions. If they were obedient to God and His word there would be blessings but if they were not obedient there would be curses brought upon them.
Let’s read the following passages that Moses and the Levitical priests read to the people of Israel before they crossed over the Jordan to the land God had promised to them.
Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and over take you if you obey the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 28:1-2
But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statues with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and over take you. Deuteronomy 28:15
One of the curses that would overtake Israel if they were not diligent in observing God’s word is found in Deuteronomy 28:36:
The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.
Because of Israels disobedience to God, He sent Babylonian invaders to Jerusalem to destroy the city and take men, women, and children into their godless nation. Israel would remain in captivity for 70 years.
A REMNANT RETURNED
An account of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem is recorded in the book of Nehemiah. 70 years of captivity are complete and a remnant of Israel returned to their homeland, Jerusalem. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed and the gates burned with fire. The people were in great distress. All because they did not fear God or hunger and thirst for His word.
Word came to Nehemiah that a remnant had returned to a devastated Jerusalem. When he heard these words he sat down, wept, and mourned for days with fasting and prayer before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Please click this link to read the prayer that Nehemiah prayed: Nehemiah’s Prayer
I am convicted when I read this prayer. Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed over the sin of his people Israel. Not only did Nehemiah mourn for the sin of his people, he mourned over his own as well. Nehemiah’s prayer was genuine, I think of God’s command in Joel 2:12-13a,
Yet even now, declares the LORD, Return to Me with all your heart and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments…
Nehemiah was rending his heart before God. He knew that he and his people had acted corruptly against God. They had not kept His commandments, statutes or ordinances.
Nehemiah prayed to God that He give him favor before the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and gate of his city. God did grant Nehemiah favor before the king, and chapters 2-7 is an account of Israel rebuilding the walls and the gate of their city.
GOD’S PEOPLE ASK FOR THE BOOK
Israel has returned home after 70 years of captivity. The walls and gates of Jerusalem are rebuilt and the people are back in their cities. Nehemiah chapter 8 opens with the people of Israel asking Ezra the priest to bring the book of the Law of Moses:
And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. Nehemiah 8:1
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. Nehemiah 8:5
The book was opened and read to the people of Israel. Nehemiah says that as the book was read the people were weeping. As they read more and more of the book God opened their hearts to see that they were not observing the commandments and the law of God. Nehemiah goes on to teach us that they began to separate themselves from all the foreigners, and confessed their sins before God.
GOD’S PEOPLE NEED TO ASK FOR THE BOOK
I believe the book of Nehemiah serves as a warning and an encouragement to us today.
Like Israel, the people of God today have turned to their own ways forgetting that the Word of God is sufficient for our teaching and training. It is time for the people of God to return to the word of God.
God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. If our delight is in the Law of the LORD and we read and meditate on His word day and night we will be like trees firmly planted by streams of water. Unlike Israel, we will not spend 70 years in captivity. I am not saying hard times won’t come. I am saying we will not be held captive by our enemy. God will protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
A PRAYER FOR A RETURN TO GOD AND HIS WORD
In Nehemiah 3 we see the people, men and women, pitching in and rebuilding each section of the wall and gates of their city. I can picture in our day men, women, boys, and girls returning to their ruins and with the word of God and prayer rebuilding their lives on the word of God. Trusting Him to do what He says He will do. The only thing that will help our nation is the rebuilding of families that are steadfast and strong in the word of God. God is the only one who can save us and He says He will if we return to Him.
I pray for us to begin to remove ourselves from the foreigners of this world, with Hands lifted high and voices crying out Amen, Amen to The God of heaven and earth.
Will you ask for the Book, today!
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