“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.” (Neh 6:15) If building the wall is the sole objective of the book of Nehemiah, it should have six chapters in total. Yet, this is not the case. What’s next? The rest of the book of Nehemiah shows us the Biblical principles of community living. First and foremost, it is grounded in the Word of God.
It began with the people asking Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses (8:1). Ezra read it aloud from daybreak till noon before the Water Gate in the presence of the crowd. It was stated that “all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” (8:3) However, some people did not understand the Word and the Levites made it clear and gave the meanings “so that the people could understand what was being read.” (8:7-8) The people were touched by the Word and wept (8:9). The Word of God was proclaimed, and the people’s hearts were moved.
Thereafter, “on the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law.” (8:13) The fathers and the religious leaders were serious to gain deeper understanding of God’s Word. We need to spend time in the Word to grow spiritually. Be humble and be teachable.
From their study, they not only learned about the Feast of Booths (also known as the Feast of Tabernacles) as commended through Moses (8:14-15) but also took actions to build booths on their roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the squares by the Water Gate and the Gate of Ephraim (8:16). This weeklong festival reminded the people of God’s blessings through time of fellowship and sharing. “Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.” (8:18) It was recorded that “their joy was very great” (8:17). This passage shows us that fellowshipping with God and with one another bring joy to our lives. Rejoicing is an act, not an emotion. It is joy, not merely happiness, when one lives out obedience to God’s teaching.
The recent Thanksgiving Carnival, with 85 booths of food stalls, game booths, and bouncy castles was like the Feast of Booths where the community fellowshipped with one another and had much fun together. My heart-felt thankfulness and appreciation go to all the staff, parents, and students who planned out, prepared for, and participated at the carnival. Let us continue counting God’s blessings in our lives and our community.
What is my appetite for God’s Word? I have much to learn from listening, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and applying God’s Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” (Proverbs 24:3-4, emphasis mine) The same principle applies to our community living.
- One of my favorite verses: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 你們不要憂愁，因靠耶和華而得的喜樂是你們的力量。(Neh 8: 10b)
- For more information about the Feast of Booths, see Deuteronomy 16:13-17. “For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” (Deut 16: 15)
Swindoll, C. R. (1990). Hand me another brick. Nashville, TN: Nelson.