From 606 – 536 BC the children of Israel were removed from their homeland and deported to foreign soils. They spent seventy years in captivity. Prior to these events, God warned His children to turn from their wicked ways, to keep His commandments, and to follow Him. However, they did not listen.
In Nehemiah chapter eight, the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem. After seventy years in captivity they were now back in their homeland. The emotions of the people must have been overwhelming.
After they had all settled back into their cities, Ezra the scribe, began to read the Book of the Law of Moses (Nehemiah 8:1,2). Ezra read to a people that were recently captives, and the word of God held them captive in a fresh new way. The people stood for five hours while God’s word was being read (8:3). The more the word was read, the more the people began to be stirred (8:5,9). There were some that needed help understanding and others took the time to make God’s word clear to them (8:8). When the people began to understand God’s word better they realized that they had not been keeping it like they needed to. It was with this better understanding that some began to weep (8:9). However, they were told not to mourn, for this was a joyous day, and one of restoration (8:11).
The word of God is an encouraging word. People are walking around in captivity every day. We are captives to addiction, captives to fear, captives to worry, and captives to doubt.
Just like the children of Israel, we too can rejoice in this great day and the message of God. We too can be restored by the truth which lies within its pages. Today, you might be the person that takes the time to help someone better understand God’s love and forgiveness. Today, you may be the one who needs some help understanding. Whatever the need, God’s word is one of encouragement.