Nehemiah: Day 11

Ezra Read God’s Law to the People


Today's Text: Nehemiah 7:73, Nehemiah 8:1-18, Romans 1:16-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:73, Nehemiah 8:1-18, Romans 1:16-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Do you remember the first time you understood a crucial part of the gospel? The day something just clicked? You knew the words of it one day, but in that one moment you understood the absolute truth of it. For me one of those “Aha!” moments happened when I came to understand the Bible wasn’t primarily a book about me, but rather a book about God.

That may seem silly to some. It may be something every Sunday School kid armed with The Jesus Storybook Bible already knows. But for me, as a 30-year-old woman, it was astounding to realize that my entire life I had read the Bible one way, when it was intended to be read an entirely different way. It changed everything for me. It made the gospel come alive to me. It made Scripture come alive to me. It made Jesus come alive to me.

But it also made my sin more real to me.

I was rejoicing because this book held the words of life, but I was weeping because this book also showed me my sin. It wasn’t just a book about how if I did good things, good things would happen in return for me. It wasn’t just a book of stories about that “nice man” Jesus. It wasn’t a book that held the key to getting an eternity with God. It was a whole book that had to be believed in its entirety—even the really hard bits.

I imagine this is how the Israelites felt when the book of the law was read to them. The weightiness of all the ways they couldn’t measure up were read clearly to them so the people could understand it fully. And as we would expect, they wanted to mourn and weep, because who could keep a law like this one? But look what Nehemiah says to them—and to us, who still sometimes buckle under the weight of a law fulfilled:

“Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

The same strength given to those who did not yet have full understanding of God’s redemptive plan is given to us today when we understand the full weight of Scripture, our sin, and the Savior’s sacrifice. The joy of the Lord is our strength when under the weight of conviction and in the midst of mourning our sin.

The joy of the Lord, the goodness of His sovereign plan and His deep love, His careful attention and His unmerited mercy—these are why we can rejoice in the face of what seems terribly, terribly hard, irrevocably broken, or unattainably high. We can trust in the joy of the Lord.


Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • Amy James

    In verse 16 when it talks about “booths” what is that?

  • Terrie Fulk

    Today, while I was reading this passage, I realized I was understanding the Bible. The more I read the better my understanding of what God wants of me.
    “Praise to God for the understanding of His word and the path He is creating for me. Amen.”

  • Shelby Lynn

    About 4 days ago I began a spiritual exercise of praying ‘Lord show me my sin’ (Excerpt from SRT Bible at Psalm 50-51) so I have a vast understanding of the sins I have done or am doing (and am unaware) to understand the vastness of Jesus’ sacrifice. I want a bigger view of my sin for a larger view of the cross.
    The power of God is miraculous and I’m glad to be able to read my bible to see his mercy, blessings, forgiveness despite us hurting him, and unconditional love.

  • Loving this study. All these devos are knocking it out of the park with application and interpretation. And loving loving the conversation threads. Woah. Who knew. Nehemiah. This is awesome!!! Today, the beautiful mix of the people with all different tasks (government, religion, teachers) working together to bring the people of God together, to glorify him in joyful faithful living!

  • Logan Christine

    One of my Bible professors in college always started his classes every semester repeating the very first part of the Bible “In the beginning, God..” and then stop. He would go on to explain that that beginning shows us that the Bible is about God and only about God. We were not there in the beginning, only God was, and until we understood that we would not be able to fully absorb all the Bible had to teach us. So thank you Lore for pointing this out to us today! Let us all remember to place ourselves second to the one who has always been first.

  • Marushca Van Noordwyk

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 lets me think about a very beautiful concept my husband taught me about the BIBLE and what it means in his life.

  • Besides the pure joy of today’s “happily ever after” ending for the Israelites, what stuck out to me was how the family leaders returned for a Day 2 of intensive teaching so they could then pass along this deeper wisdom to the people under their care. I’ve recently watched a community I love reject regularly teaching God’s Word for the sake of being “more open-minded.” At the same time, I feel in myself an urge for discipleship into studying MORE of God’s Word, and am prayerfully considering deaconship in my church so I can be better equipped to teach and serve. I love how the 2 Timothy verses point to how the Levites and the family leaders all used Scripture to teach, rebuke (“do not grieve”), correct (“celebrate”), and train in righteousness (“build those festival shelters, this is how we do things now”)!

    • Deborah Craytor

      Amy, I too have felt recently that I NEED to spend more and more time studying the Bible and praying, and you’re not the only one I’ve heard express the same feeling. I wonder if God is preparing us for something.

  • Jess Rivera

    Amen, what a powerful revelation!❤️

  • I always read the scripture before I read the written devotional. As I read of the people crying, I wanted to cry with them. This was the first time to hear the law read to them in their new town, with their scribe and their governor and the Levites to instruct them. It was read to them so they could understand. They were home! The exile behind them, freedom at last! The threats against them by Sanballat and his cohorts still echoed in their ears and distantly threatened them, but they had their own secure city from which to hear the beloved law of God. I would cry too. I too have cried at the amazing goodness and mercy of God. I’ve cried at His awesomeness. I’ve cried reading His word, His truth and His law. I think on that day, the people cried at the goodness of God that He would deliver them once again and place them in a place where they could hear of His greatness and His mercy, and of His law. And they remembered. Indeed, the joy of the Lord was their strength, the joy of the Lord is your strength, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Forever. Amen!!

    • Melinda

      Amen, sister! The feast with choice food and sweet drinks was for rejoicing and celebrating with love and sharing and peace. What a good Father, to provide us strength with such wonderful provisions!

  • Melissa Corrick

    The joy of the Lord, the goodness of His sovereign plan and His deep love, His careful attention and His unmerited mercy—these are why we can rejoice in the face of what seems terribly, terribly hard, irrevocably broken, or unattainably high. We can trust in the joy of the Lord.

    Also anybody know how to highlight and copy in the app? It’s not working for me.

    • Lonna

      I use this on my iPad, I just touch and hold the starting word of the section I want to copy and it gives me the option to copy. If it normally works for you but isn’t just recently, try closing the app and maybe even restarting your device or computer.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Melissa, currently within the app you are only able to create notes and highlight in the Bible section of the app. You can do that by tapping on a verse or passage, and you should see those options appear. Hope that helps! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • I love it when a part of Scripture just “clicks” with me, something I’ve read many times before and didn’t understand. That helps me understand, that Scripture is the Living Word of God. He gives us what we need, when we need it. Amen

  • Melissa Williamson

    Thank you for this. Yesterday was a hard day for me. A month ago I was informed that after teaching at the same private Christian school for 24 years, I was informed that “there was not a place for me for the coming school year.” No other reason was given. Heartbreaking. Yesterday was the last day of school, and I took the final step of cleaning out my classroom. Knowing that I can draw on the Lord’s strength is one of the few things holding me together.

    • Tina

      Thank you Melissa Williamson for 24 years of teaching of your input into all those young lives that looked to you for and teaching….
      God has watched you.. He has rejoiced in you… He has been your strength.. do not I beg you let the school rob you of the joy it has been to teach, mentor and grow the young…
      Rejoice for the joy of the Lord will be your strength…
      Sending you love, hugs and prayers across the pond…xx

    • Carrie Doss

      Prayers for you, Melissa. May trusting and knowing that He is good help you through this new season. Good things, things that are meant to be, are coming your way.

    • Tova

      My heart breaks for you Melisa. I will be praying for you. I, too, am dealing with a huge loss and I know the challenge of walking in the Lord’s joy. I needed this today as well. I pray God will envelop you with His strength and joy today. God Bless, -Tova

    • Hilary

      I’m so sorry, Melissa. Know that those year were not in vain. You have undoubtedly touched many little lives over those 24 years! Praying for you today!

    • Melinda

      I just said a prayer for you and for that school. I don’t know the details but God certainly does, and please be reassured during this crippling blow that He has a better and perfect plan for you. Trust Him, you’ll see!!

    • Ruth Lund

      Sorry to hear this Melissa but praying for God to reveal the next step for you and give you some certainty about the future. Endings are often also beginnings. ❤️

    • ~ B ~

      24 years! That’s phenomenal! I hope that you are gifted great peace over this transition and that God reveals Himself to you in big ways. I’ll be prayerful over you in the coming days. Can’t imagine how hard this must be!

  • Caralee Lilly

    It is so hard not to grieve and wallow over the losses I feel right now but such an amazing God who says let me be your joy…I’ve go that. Rejoicing in the Lord ALWAYS does not take away the hurt but it gives way to allowing God to do His awesome work. Thank you Jesus. May I delight in You today.

  • “…And day by day, from the first day to the last…” reads a little “Happily Ever After” to me today because if we can remember, as we are convicted by our sin, that Victory is already ours BECAUSE of God, because of Jesus’ great work. Through Him we can find peace with our brokenness, in our utter despair, in our unfinished stories because no matter the weight in the middle, the ending is the same …. Jesus saves!

    So grateful for the unyielding love and mercy of God in my life, for His faithfulness in provision and for gifting a knowledge that even if I may not see a way, it doesn’t mean He can’t. So moved by His efforts to reveal Himself to me and for His continued works in my life!

  • Kelly Chataine

    Thirty-eight years of being a Christian, redeemed by God, heir with Jesus Christ, led by the Spirit and the Word of God remains new and refreshing to me each day! God is amazing!

  • “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:7-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • Churchmouse

    The people gathered.
    The Law. Read.
    Listened attentively.
    Stood up.
    Hands uplifted.
    “Amen, Amen!”
    Knelt low.
    Worshiped the Lord.
    Law explained.
    Translating. Giving meaning.
    “Go and eat.”
    “Today is holy.”
    “Be still.”
    “Don’t grieve.”
    The joy of the Lord.
    Study the law.
    The Lord’s commands.
    Proclaim and spread the news.
    The people went out.
    Tremendous joy.

    Oh that I would hold the Word in such high regard. Oh that I would act upon it with such resolve and joy.
    Amen, Amen!

  • I’ve neen noticing that Jesus is in all the scriptures! I use the First Five app for Proverbs 31 Ministry, and we are studying the Zachariah. The teacher pointed out in the last two days how the scriptures point to Jesus. But not only in this study, He is throughout the whole Bible! How awesome! This song talks about Jesus being at the center. He’s our All in All. Praise, glory, and honor are His! Amen

  • I would have said back a long time ago that I was a christian. A believer, after all I attended a church school, opened the bible in church, followed all the practices, and sang the hymns… what does a child of 16 know…?

    Fast forward some 30 years… I recalled somewhere in the recesses of my mind that God hears our prayers and we receive what we ask for… so with a heavy and hurty heart I go to the church and I plead for my daughters life… I cry out for a miracle to be.. I beg like any mother would who realises there is only one hope…
    My beautiful 27 year old daughter was called home… I had never needed God as I had needed Him then …but alas…
    So you can imagine, I spent a lot of time in the same church I had plead fighting, arguing, accusing God of not listening, of not saving my girl, all the while flicking through the bible to hand to show God what the bible says.. how He hears our prayers and answers… how if we ask we receive… how He promises are true… I did, I fought with God. My girl was gone and I blamed Him for not doing what He promised in His Word..
    But God… He listened and He heard the cries of a broken heart mother who could barely stand, who had lost all will to live.. who was so broken anywhere else was better than this world without her best friend her daughter.. God gave me a picture of my girl running through a meadow, one day, as i sat, exhausted from all the ranting and shouting at Him, she was happy shouting to me… I’m alright mum, I am happy…! And I could see that.!
    The thing is that day, everything changed for me… the words I used to accuse God… the ones I had found to make Him out to be a liar… read differently to me, meant something else… They were still the same words, only they had new meaning…the words now had a strength in them, a peace, a grace. A truth.

    I had received answer to my prayers… granted not in the way I had imagined or thought, but in that picture God had shown me my daughter was healed. She was well and happy, she was okay. My prayer. My wish. My hope.
    Gods words for sure look different to me these days because, as the author, Lore, said, it is not about me… its about God and what He can do…

    There is a joy to be had absolutely in His word…
    And a strength like no other when we see God for who He really and truly is..

    The joy of the Lord is my strength… always. Amen.

    Happy Thursday y’all… every every Blessing with love… x

    • Bunny Perry

      As I sit here with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, I have to say thank you for sharing. Your struggles with God and how he allowed you see your daughter and how happy she is truly amazing. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

    • LuAnn Fischer

    • Rhonda

      This is beautiful! ALWAYS love your writings, but wow, I love this how you share such powerful words. Sometimes it takes us broken, on our knees, for US to NEED HIM! I grew up in church too. But until I lost control on my life, and was broken…I didn’t really get it. Since then, everything has changed for me. (I can’t imagine losing a child, it HURTS my heart even thinking about it) Sometimes you wish people would get IT, but then I immediately recant, not wanting anyone to go through a tragedy. But I always think, if there weren’t these bad things….cancer, loss, death, sickness, abuse….gosh, no one would give a crapola about God and love. It can really bring out the best in people.

  • I remember when I actually started reading my bible and doing bible studies my eyes were opened to everything I couldn’t possibly accomplish. I grew up a Christian but I got all of my teaching from Sunday School memory verses. Sure I sat in church and was involved in the ritual of it all but the sermons never held my attention and I never got the “big picture” of the Bible (because you can’t possibly get the big picture from memory verses that don’t tell you the whole story). Until about 8 years ago when we started going to the church we are in now. It is a teaching church based off of the Bible and I have learned more in 8 years than I did my whole life prior. I remember telling our friends one night at dinner who also attend the same church “how can we ever possibly do what Jesus tells us to do in scripture?” I was really feeling the weight of never being able to measure up to it and what was I going to do. I felt silly that I had just figured this out in my 40s. And they looked me square in the eye and said, “well that’s the point of the Gospel isn’t it?” I must admit, it still took me a few more years to get what they meant. So I appreciate this lesson tonight and can relate so much. And so I will trust in the joy of the Lord.

    • Jenn

      How you grew up and how you explain it is exactly how I did and how I tell people today :) I’m so thankful and grateful that now I know how to actually have a true relationship with Him and I try to teach my daughter the same.

      • Kristen

        I went to church and ccd classes and didn’t learn either. I was arrogant enough to say I don’t need to read the Bible, we have the missilette. I thought the Bible was full of contradictions. I never thought I wouldn’t be Roman Catholic anymore. I was proud of that. Then my daughter passed and we buried her. I was looking for answers. A man asked me after the burial to go to a different church. They praised, clapped their hands, had joy, and taught the Bible. God even used a woman that first day that I was staring at thinking her life must be perfect, that’s why she can praise. She told me that God said to run to Him and not away! Here, she had problems too and she had a miscarriage. I was saved that day after hearing the pastor. I learned so much fro attending Bible teaching churches and reading and participating in studies and classes. I was so wrong! The Bible is God’s Word and there are no contradictions. It is alive and active and sharper than any two edged sword. I never wanted to bury a child, but God used her to bring me to Him.

  • Thank you for reminding me of the truth, I declare “the Joy of the Lord is my strength “

Further Reading...