Nehemiah 8 Questions and Answers - Revival

1 Introduction: How would you start a revival?

2 When did this next event take place? What did the people get together for? Can you imagine people getting together for that today? Why do you think there was such a hunger?

This event took place about a week after they had finished the wall. The people came together to hear the reading of the word of God. There was a hunger for God's word because it had been neglected and Nehemiah had shown that God was on their side by helping them rebuild the wall. There was a physical sense of security and relative calm was setting in.
V. 1 The seventh month is Tishri - September/October in the Gregorian Calendar. The wall was finished on the 25th of Elul - the sixth month - only 4 or 5 days earlier - Neh 6:15. (MacConville)
Ezra had been working with his countrymen as a priest expounding the law.

3 Why do you think it was difficult for some people to understand what Ezra was reading? v.8:2

The Law of Moses was written in Hebrew. Some of the people had married other nationalities around them and did not know Hebrew. Many of the people had grown up in Babylonia and had not been taught the Hebrew language. How many of us know the mother tongue of our grandfathers?
The other explanation is that some of those assembled were children and would not understand the content even though they may have understood the language.

4 They assembled early ( daybreak ) and Ezra read until noon. Can you imagine sitting in the hot sun listening to the Law of Moses being read for 5 or 6 hours?

If this was a typical September / October day, it would not have been as hot as in the summer months. Still it would have been quite warm to be in the sun for 5 or 6 hours. Their heart was focused on the reading and explanation of the Law and seemed to be captivated by God's word so much so that its message gripped their heart and a revival broke out.

5 At which gate did this happen? Is there any significance to this Gate?

This happened at the Water Gate. Some researches claim that this is the site of the Temple because an abundant source of water was necessary for purification and washing down the temple after festival slaughters of hundreds of animals. It was close to the spring of Gihon and the well dug through the rock by King Hezekiah.
Could this have been the site of the Apostle Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost?

6 Do we have the same respect for the word of God today as the inhabitants of Jerusalem had that day?

The average North American audience has little reverence for the word of God enough to sit or stand for hours listening to it.

7 How did they worship God? (V. 6) What are the elements of worship? Who made up the worship team? What part did music have in their worship?

They responded to Ezra's praise of God with upraised hands and "Amen, Amen". Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. The people who were in the front were Ezra and 13 other Levites (priests). They explained the meaning of the text. There was no music at this time, just the reading of the Book of the Law of God.

8 Why were the people weeping when they heard the Law of Moses? When is the last time you experienced such deep remorse?

They had not been following the Law of God so they were repentant. They were weeping because they had grieved God by their disobedience.

9 Why did Nehemiah and Levites encourage the people to celebrate with food and drink and to share with others? V. 10,11

Nehemiah wanted them to celebrate their achievement of rebuilding the wall and now they had time to obey the Law which was about the Feast of Booths. They were grateful for being able to hear and understand the Law of God.

10 What was to give the people strength? Can you imagine a people who had worked so hard to get the walls done? They would have been exhausted and somewhat fearful. How would this have impacted the people?

The joy of the Lord was to be their source of strength. Their hearts were relieved that now they had some protection from those that would rob them or destroy their property.

11 What happened on the second day of the month (Tishri)? Where did this idea come from and what was it's significance?

They went out and built booths - For the background to this read Deut 31:10 - 13 and Lev 23:34-44
Deu 31:10 - 13 Then Moses commanded them: "At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people--men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns--so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."

12 What was Ezra doing daily during this festive time?

Ezra was reading from the Book of the Law every day for 8 days.

13 How long did this celebration last? (v. 18)

They were to live 8 days in Booths to be reminded that the lived in Booths during their journey between Egypt and entering the promised land.

14 What are the festivals in the Jewish Calendar?

In the Torah (the first five books of Moses), there were seven sacred festivals instituted by God:

  1. The Feast of Passover (Pesach) - celebrated the night when the angel passed over the Hebrew households in Egypt.
  2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread - commemorated the first 7 days of the Exodus when the Hebrews left Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to add yeast to their dough.
  3. The Feast of Weeks - also called the Pentecost (Shavuot). It marked the end of the harvest and offering of first fruits.
  4. The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) - the blowing of a ram's horn, or shofar, to call the people to prepare for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Later this day became the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah).
  5. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) - the most solemn day of the year. On this day, the High Priest sacrificed sin offerings to atone all the sins of the people and entered the Most Holy Place to offer incense.
  6. The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) - celebrated the completion of the great fall harvest and remembered the Hebrews in the Exodus living in tents for 40 years.
  7. The Feast of the Last Great Day (Shmini Atzeret) - marked the conclusion of the festival year.

    Of the above, three were considered as "major feasts": (1) the Feast of Passover (Pesach), (3) the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and (6) the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

15 Should Christians be celebrating the festival times like the Jews did? What should the focus of these celebrations be?

Christian can meaningfully celebrate the feasts as times of joy and solemn repentance. We do not offer sacrifices as the Jews did because Jesus was the final sacrifice which took away all the sin of the world. We can enjoy the feasts by preparing special times of worship and eating together.

16 What is Worship? What is required to "worship"? What can we learn about our worship from this passage?

According to what happened in this passage, worship was just a recognition that God is an awesome God and He is to be praised with our whole heart. No music or special litergy is required. Here all the priests did was read from the Torah (Books of Law)

Return to Nehemiah Main Page