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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 7:73b-8:8 (June 27, 2024)

June 20, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 7:73b - 8:8

Good morning, and God's blessings this beautiful morning.

Please join me in remembering to pray for your brothers and sisters in the church. We have several people who have been regular visitors with us at American on Sundays. Though I will not mention their names here, please pray that the Spirit continues to work in their lives, encouraging them to become more involved with our community. On July 7th we will celebrate Independence Day with hymns that include our thanks to God for the gift of this nation and her blessings in our lives. That day is Gospel Music Sunday, which will be followed with BBQed burgers, beef, turkey, or veggie, your choice. If you have not signed up, the cost for this event is $2 per person, and we are asking you to bring a dish or dessert to share. You can pay the $2 in advance this Sunday or pay it at the meal on the 7th. Tomorrow, we have our Foodies of Faith outing to Opa's Best Greek restaurant on Broadway just west of Swan, south side of the street. If you would like to come, and have not signed up yet, please call the church office at 520-623-3661 today.

Today we continue in the book of Nehemiah, with a time for teaching that is meant to help the Judahites remember their own participation in their relationship with YHWH. (LORD) The name Ezra must have become a memorable one for the naming of people's children. In this reading we have an Ezra who is a priest from the tribe of the Levites, and another Ezra who is considered a scholar in the community with regards to the body of Law that is called the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish canon of Scripture.  It would seem here that it would be the book of Deuteronomy that was the one being read, and it seems that this would have taken quite a while to be done from early morning until sometime around the noon hour each day.  Next to the reading of Ezra stood men of the tribes who would bring authority and honor to this reading, and the request that the whole of the people gather for this purpose. If this was the 7th month, and Passover was the beginning of the counting of months, then this reading may well have been in the month we call October, which also means that this was done at the time of the harvest. I think that it is probably wise for us to understand that those who gathered the crops would not have been available for the reading of the Law.  My guess is that Ezra the scholar was there to offer interpretation for those who might not understand some of the language or content. Though this seems like a huge undertaking, we only need remember that Martin Luther recommended the reading of the Large Catechism by the man of the house often in the home. I have to wonder if our children would know of their Lutheran theological background a lot more completely if we had continued this practice. I can only imagine the revolt of the younger generation while they were waiting to get on their phones, games, and the internet. But it does bear some thought about how we ought to review with our children how we Lutherans treasure the Word of God. I know that we usually find unacceptable a Sunday sermon longer than fifteen minutes, and I always tell you, that once I get started on delivering that message on Sunday morning that I have to hold myself back from just continuing on each week. Imagine day after day for hours trying to absorb the length and breadth of the Torah. But according to Nehemiah's writing, that is exactly what was done. This post exilic community who had worked now to secure the city and budding temple with this new wall, also needed to know that their work had been done with the presence of YHWH in their midst. In the Lutheran Church we follow a well-known, and authority acknowledged cycle of Scripture reading called the Lectionary, which helps us cover the most significant content of the Bible over a period of three years, and then that cycle is repeated. This does not mean, as we learn by doing verse by verse Bible study like we do each week together, that there are no other portions of Scripture from which we can learn much more about the Living Word of God for our lives. That's why it is important for us to do additional study to the portions of the Bible through which the Lectionary takes us over a three-year period.  Hopefully, we can understand why it was crucial for this action of reading God's Law to take place so that the Levites might be reminded of the fullness of their relationship with the One True God. For you and me, it is important that we know the fullness of the Word of God that is meant to give us the Light, and Truth, and Life which the FATHER wants us to know and experience every day of our lives. As I said at the beginning of this study this morning, God bless you today. This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice, and be glad in it.

 In Christ's Love, Pastor Kim

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