And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. —Nehemiah 8:1-8
It was Sunday and the great crowd was gathered in the stadium to watch the game. As the teams took to the field the people cheered so loudly that the noise sounded like a great roar outside the stadium. Many times though the game the people exhibited their excitement as their team advanced toward a score for their team. For the duration of the game all eyes were focus on what was going on. With the amount of time, money, difficult in arriving at their seats, endurance of the heat or cold or rain or even snow showed the commitment these spectators had to their team.
What about us? How committed are we to Jesus? Does our amount of time, money, difficult in arriving at our “seats,” endurance of the heat or cold or rain or even snow show our commitment or lack of it to Him?
In the context of the passage above the people “gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate.” They had gathered to hear the Word of God read and explained at the Gate where water was brought in for the temple. It was fitting that the Water of Life should be read at the Water Gate. Those gathered could understand what they heard and they listen attentively to the Word of God read and explained from “early morning until midday.” The people answered, “Amen, Amen” and worshiped as they were helped to understand clearly the sense of what was being read.
I remember reading in the book Heavenly Man about how westerners were going to the underground church in China to help. Westerners were asked not to come unless they could speak for a minimum of two hours. These people were hungry to hear what God had to say and put aside the time to hear. In Africa I saw people gather to hear God’s Word for long periods of time as well. So it is in other parts of the world where believers gather to hear the Word of God. They usually gather for long periods of time unless they have been influenced by the western church and then they might gather for shorter times to hear the Word of God.
I’ve read that the average person’s attention span is only 20 minutes. I wonder, is that just applied to hearing God’s Word because people give much more attention to other things!
Dear Father, give us a true hunger to hear You and obey. May it be so.