The Reading of the Word

The Reading of the Word

Scripture: Nehemiah 8:8, Deuteronomy 31:9-13, Matthew 17:5
Date: 11/09/2019  Lesson: 6
'How do you relate to the Word of God? That is, even though you claim to believe it, how is that claim made manifest in your life, in the sense of how you seek to obey what it teaches? How differently would you live if you didn’t obey the Bible?'

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Jean Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome those who are joining us online. I know we have a number of our online church members, part of our Sabbath School, and we want to welcome you, as well as those joining us across the country and around the world. And as always, we'd like to welcome our regular church members here for Sabbath School and those who are visiting with us today. We're just delighted that you're joining us.

Now, for those of you who have been attending over the past few weeks, you know that we've started a new study dealing with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It's actually the title of our lesson quarterly, Ezra and Nehemiah. Today we find ourselves on lesson number six, entitled "The Reading of the Word," so a very important study.

We do have a free offer, friends, that go along with our study today, a book written by our own Pastor Doug Batchelor, "The Ultimate Resource," and this is our free offer for anyone who is watching. If you'd like to receive it, all you have to do is give us a call, and that number is...and ask for our offer, offer number 728. Or if you like, you'll be able to text the following code SH091 to the number 40544, and you'll be able to download the book, "The Ultimate Resource." We'll send it to you and you'll be able to read it online.

Now, for those of you who might not have a copy of our lesson for today, you can download that by simply going to lesson.aftv.org. Again, that's lesson.aftv.org. That's lesson number six, and it's entitled "The Reading of the Word." Well, before we get to our study, we have a special musical item that's going to be brought to us by the Granite Bay Church Choir.

♪ There's a land that is fairer than day, ♪

♪ and by faith we can see it afar; ♪

♪ for the Father waits over the way ♪

♪ to prepare us a dwelling place there. ♪

♪ There's a land that is fairer than day, ♪

♪ and by faith we can see it afar; ♪

♪ for the Father waits over the way ♪

♪ to prepare us a dwelling place there. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ We shall sing on that beautiful shore ♪

♪ the melodious songs of the blest, ♪

♪ and our spirits shall sorrow no more ♪

♪ not a sight for the blessing of rest. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ To our bountiful Father above ♪

♪ we will offer our tribute of praise; ♪

♪ for the glorious gift of His love ♪

♪ and the blessings that hallow our days. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ In the sweet ♪

♪ by and by, ♪

♪ we shall meet on that beautiful shore. ♪

♪ We shall meet ♪

♪ on that beautiful shore. ♪♪

Jean: Dear Father, once again, we are grateful that we have this opportunity to gather together and open up Your Word and study together, studying about the Word. So, we do pray Your blessing upon our time today. In Jesus's name, amen. Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Pastor Doug Batchelor: How is everybody? It's good to be back home. Seems like Mrs. Batchelor and I've been traveling a lot. We had a good experience being with some of the members from around the world. This week we were at the annual council meeting where the various members of the executive committee come together and they talk about just the state of the church, the finances, different policies and vote, maybe some changes to different things. And it was good to see the way the work of God is progressing around the world and some good things came out of that meeting. So anyway, still adjusting to the time change. But I trust that if I can stay awake, you can, amen. Is that a deal, promise?

We are going through our lesson dealing with the subject of Ezra and Nehemiah. It's really a very good lesson today, and it's talking about the reading of the Word, one of my favorite subjects, the reading of the Word. Everything springs from the Bible. And we have a memory verse. The memory verses from Nehemiah 8:8. Are you with me? We're going to say it together. Here we go. Nehemiah 8:8, and this is the New King James Version. You can just say it out loud from the lesson quarterly if you'd like. "So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading."

We're going to delve more about the importance of understanding what you read a little later. Now, the principal purpose of the study today when we go through a quarterly, the goal of the writer is to take us through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. And they'll do that in different sections and pieces as it makes sense. Today, our assignment is Nehemiah 8, verses 1 through 12.

So, if you have your Bible, to make sure we at least get through the principal assignment, I'm going to do my best to just read this. And there's a lot of names in this passage, a lot of Hebrew names. So, you just, I hope that you'll extend grace as I do my best to pronounce these. If there's any Hebrew scholars out there, then preoccupy yourself doing something else for a few minutes. All right, let's look here at Nehemiah chapter 8. "Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate--" This is a gate that would have led from the temple outside of the city towards the Kidron Valley. "And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly."

Now, when they say, "brought the law," they're talking about the Torah. It's probably the five books of Moses is what we call the Pentateuch. Penta means five, we've got the Pentagon in America, one of the world's biggest buildings, not the biggest, but one of them, and it's got five sides. The Pentateuch was the five books of Moses. And so, they said, "Bring the law with you," which Moses commanded Israel. "So Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday."

Now, some of you already said, "How long is Pastor going to read?" It's only been a few minutes, they read six hours. So, how long would our church survive if I preached five hours? Not long. So, they--and they stood while this is happening. And so, "He read from the law in the open square in front of the Water Gate and all those--from morning until midday, before the men and the women, all those who could understand." So, there were children present. "And the ears of all the people were attentive to hear the Book of the Law. So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made," they put them in an elevated place so his voice will carry for the purpose. "And beside him, at his right hand, was Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, Maaseiah; and to the left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita," all right, what is it? "Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the law."

So, they were surrounded with different Levites and they're teaching it. "And the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading." Okay, we're going to stop there. In a little bit, we'll go from verses 9 through verse 12. So, let's just talk about the lesson today and what's happening here.

This is a time when, of course, the captives have come back. They spent many years in Babylon. The people who are coming back from captivity of Ezra and Nehemiah, many of them had been there longer than 70 years. Now, keep in mind, there's a message in the Bible about coming out of Babylon. Where do we find that? In Revelation, you can read in chapter 17. It talks about Babylon is fallen. Chapter 18 talks about the fall of Babylon. There's a message, "Babylon is fallen, come out of her, my people." To understand revelation, you really need to understand what happened when the children of Israel were carried off to Babylon. He said, "You're going to be in Babylon because of your sins for a limited period of time." And when it talks about the 70 years in Babylon, it's not saying that they were all there 70 years. It's said the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, would reign over these various kingdoms 70 years. And so, it's really 70 years of his subjugating these kingdoms until Babylon fell. Some of the Israelites weren't there the full 70 years.

So, the captivity when Jerusalem fell during the time of Zedekiah until Babylon fell was not a full 70 years. It was actually less than that. Nebuchadnezzar conquering Israel and carrying them away captive in these other kingdoms like Egypt, that was the 70 years, the period of time. Hope that made sense. So, not only had they been there seven years, but after Cyrus becomes king, he tells them they can go home. There's about 50,000 Jews that decide to go back, but there's a whole lot that decided to stay.

Now, if you went to live somewhere for 70 years, how many generations go by? I'm not 70 yet. I've got eight grandchildren. You live somewhere that long, have you noticed that the first generation of people that come from another country, they struggle to learn the language? The kids, they learn it very quickly. I've got several families I've known, they come, for instance, from Mexico. The mother and father, their first language is Spanish. They come into the United States. They got three young children and in two years, the kids are speaking fluently because they're in school every day. They pick it up and very little accent. Twenty years later the parents are struggling. It's true. Haven't you seen this? Yeah, to speak the language. But then by the third generation, the children of the Spanish couple, they have children, their children stop understanding Spanish.

So, by the time this group comes out of Babylon, it's not just 70 years. Ezra is years after Zerubbabel, who's come. They've been in Babylon a long time. They've got comfortable, they got family, they know the system. They know the language, they make their way around. They've got their friends and their neighbors. And then God says, "Come to Jerusalem." It's sort of a desert country, lots of rocks everywhere that had been burned by the Babylonians. It's been conquered. They're struggling with unemployment. "Come it's the country of God." And you go, "I'll pray for you." And so, they become so comfortable in Babylon, a lot of them didn't want to go out.

But then God says, "Look, this is My land. I'm calling you out. So, are you going to follow Me or not?" This is the same issue with God's people in the last days. He calls us out of where we may be comfortable to be where he wants us to be. It's the blessed land, right? And so, but we get so comfortable, we get so used to Babylon, and Babylonian way of thinking, the culture of the world that's coming to a holy life is difficult. Now, don't forget, God calls Abraham out of Babylon to the Promised Land. He brings Sarai, his wife later known as Sarah. Then when Abraham wants to get a son for Isaac, he says, "Don't marry one of the local girls. Go get her from Mesopotamia." So, it's like Babylon, across the Euphrates. That was that whole area.

And then when it comes time for--so Rachel is--I'm sorry, Rebekah is brought from Babylon, you might say, to the Promised Land, when it comes time for Jacob to get married. These are the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, where does he go? He goes back again to Heron, crosses Euphrates, gets his wife, brings her out of Babylon back to the Promised Land. And then you have the high priest, Joshua, who helps lead that first group out of Babylon into the Promised Land. Now, do we have a Joshua that wants to lead his people out of Babylon, his bride into the Promised Land? So, you've got this pattern that keeps fulfilling itself through bible history.

All right, let's go to first section here under Sunday, the people gathered together. And so, it says, "They gathered together at one," back in Nehemiah 8, verse 1, "in the open square in front of the Water Gate, and Ezra brings the Torah, the Book of the Law. And he brings all the men and the women, and all could hear." Now, there may have been little children that were just a little too young to understand, but I think we might be surprised, some of those kids may have been six, seven, eight years old, but came old enough to hear and understand what was being read. Sometimes I think we underestimate the youth and their ability to comprehend the simple reading of the Word.

You know, we bring kids to a church program, and I know a lot of churches, they have the adult church, but then they have a separate church for the kids and they really dumb it down. You know, they'll have a little puppet show or something. Where I found that kids understand the teaching of the Word. And so, they could understand what was being read. "And he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and the women that those who could understand."

And notice this, "And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." What does that mean? They're attentive. They're listening. They're hungry. They're understanding. They may not have heard the words of Moses, they probably had snippets of it, little passages that were read, but they hadn't heard the whole panorama of the Torah read to them like this in their whole lives. And they're going, "Wow, that's why we are who we are. It's all coming together now. It's all making sense."

Sometimes you need to just take people through it. And so, they're saying, "This is why we built a temple. This is why we were carried away captive." You realize in the book of Moses in Deuteronomy it said, "And if you're unfaithful, your nations around you will come and they'll conquer you, they will carry you away to their land." So, everything that had happened to them is being read. The prophecies of their whole history is being read to them. And you might be thinking, how could you go through all of that? Well, there may have been places that he paused. You can read the book of Deuteronomy, which is a whole book, in Deuteronomy is one entire sermon of Moses did, probably 90 minutes, depends on your reading speed, of course. And so, you could read through the whole Torah in six hours. And they may have left some spots out, I don't know, but they're getting the whole panorama of Genesis, and Exodus, and Leviticus, and Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Maybe he skipped some of the Numbers, I don't know. And so, they're reading through it and the people are hungry, they're listening to understand.

You can read in Acts chapter 15, verse 21, this was a part of the law of Moses said that you were to read to the people. It said, "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." So, what was the custom among the Jews? What did they do when they came together on Sabbath? They read from the Word. What did Jesus do? It says, "As his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and he stood up and read from the Word." Remember it says, "And they brought him the scroll of Isaiah, and he read to them from Isaiah chapter 61." So, the custom of the Jews, it says in every city, not just in Jerusalem, but wherever the Jews were, they built a synagogue, and what did they do on the Sabbath? They came together to read the Word, not only did they read the Word, they study the Word, which is what we do at Sabbath School. It's a little more teaching.

Now, is there a difference between teaching and preaching? Teaching is a little more talkative, and it's in the kind of the Socratic method where you're asking questions. And you notice what happened. It says that they had these Levites that were scattered throughout this. They had a wide spot, a wide courtyard before the gate. And we've been to Israel and they've got some of these streets, and before you get to the gates, there's big wide areas, even in the ancient city today. And so, all the people were gathered, and Ezra was on an elevated platform, and he's teaching. But as he's reading from the Word, it says that they've got these Levites scattered among the thousands of people who are there, and they must have broken up into different groups, where they're then asking questions and it says they're giving the sense, and they're explaining the Scriptures. So, it was a big preaching teaching fest that they had as he was reading the Word to the people.

And you know what I also think is very important, I believe that Ezra, as a scribe, knew how to read the Word. Have you ever heard people read and it's just kind of monotonous, and you're going... [mumbling] But then you've heard good readers, there's enunciation, there's inflection, they don't have all these run-on sentences. They understand how to use the punctuation to keep you engaged. They got a lot of people that they are professional readers, and they read books online, you know, these-- all kinds of books now. They got, you know, I forget what the different services or audio book and some people download. So, as they're driving, they listen to someone read a book. They don't have time to sit and read it, but they'll listen to someone read it.

Well, not anybody can read a book. They get people who are good at it, and they put emotion into it, and they put the right emphasis in it. And it can make it much more interesting. I think that as Ezra was reading it, he was reading it with heart. And I get aggravated sometimes even when I'm listening to audiotapes of like the New Testament, and I hear people reading the teachings of Jesus. And I think, "No, He didn't say it like that. Yes, you read the right words, but you read it with the wrong emphasis." It's like I'll hear them go they're reading the words of Jesus He says, "Woe, to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." And it's just like really mean, and I don't think Jesus did it like that. If you read in "Desire of Ages" it said, He did it with tears in His voice. That would be different, right? And so, how something is read makes a world of difference. And when you read the Word of God, you want to be able to do it in the Spirit of God so you can read it the right way.

And then you continue on here in verse 4 Ezra--I'm sorry, Nehemiah 8, verse 4. "So Ezra, the scribe, stood on a platform of wood, which they have made for this purpose." You know what that tells us? Make sure when you're going to read the Word to someone they can hear you. He got up in a position where they could hear. Later in the message today we're talking about the Beatitudes, but I know people watching now, maybe not hear that later. And when Jesus went out to teach, he always made it a point to get where people can hear Him. He said, "Look, they're not going to hear Me teaching crushed on the shore. Peter, can I borrow your boat? If I take the boat out and drop the anchor about, you know, 50 feet away, the water will carry the sound. People will hear Me a lot better." Because the hill carries up, it creates a natural amphitheater. When Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount, He takes him up to a mountain side where there's sort of a big amphitheater in the hills, and Jesus sits on a prominent knoll where they can hear Him.

I've gone to do evangelistic meetings before, and they bring me out to the platform or I'm a guest speaker somewhere, and as soon as I get up, I start to talk I realized there's a PA problem. There's a bad echo, or the mic's not adjusted right. And people think, "What is Pastor Doug doing? He's fooling with the microphone." Or I'll stop while I'm speaking, I'll talk to the PA guy say, "You need to move the monitor, turn the monitor down, get rid of that echo." Right at the beginning I say, "Look, there's something wrong with the way they're hearing right now. If I don't fix this, this whole hour is a waste," assuming I preach an hour. And so, one of the first things you want to do if you're teaching, make sure they're going to hear you. Does that make sense? It's exasperating to me when I've seen public speakers who are going on and on in a message where there's some kind of technical problem that could easily be fixed, and you can't hear them. Their microphone is not working. You ever noticed when I'm preaching, I'm going like this? That makes a small little adjustment here, and I'm trying to keep this thing just the right distance from my mouth because I want you to hear. And so, I just always think, fix the audio so they can hear because what good is the Word if they don't hear?

So, He got up on a platform to make sure they could listen, but He was too far away from some of the people so He sent the Levites out in the crowd and He said, "Aren't you guys here trained?" Go out there, answer their questions so they can hear." How many of you have been to a Sabbath School class in a church before where they don't have enough classrooms, so they put two, or three, or four classrooms in the sanctuary? Let me see your hands. Have you done that, yeah. And you'll be sitting here and there's a teacher here, and then a little further back. They try to move them around strategically, but there'll be another teacher there. And then they'll put another teacher over here, and teach over here, and they got their little clusters of students, and they're all teaching. The problem is usually one of the teacher's whose got a great booming voice, but he's here and you're over here, and you're having a hard time paying attention to your teacher because he just made a great point over here. But then your teacher asks you a question. You go, "Huh, I was listening to him." You ever been to that church before? And it's like it's a cacophony. It's like babbling.

And if you get older, you know, it's hard to hear in a room where there's a lot of background noise. Like me, if I'm in a crowd and I'm talking to a bunch of people, I'm just going, "Yeah, I agree with you." I don't know what they're saying. Or you ever gone to a dinner in a busy restaurant and it's like, you know, they take all the pastors out, and you all sit there at this long table. I can almost barely hear the person just right next to me. You're not really getting the visit with anyone else. And so, one of the keys is very practical in teaching and preaching is make sure people can hear you and arrange it that way.

All right, so that was just a pet peeve of mine about those Babylonian Sabbath school classes where it-- and you hear everybody all at once. Now, if you're really good, you sit between two classes and you take it all in. You learn twice as much, so. "So he stood on a platform of wood which they had made for this purpose. And beside him at his right hand stood--" I read these fellas names again. I'm not going to agonize through it again. "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of the people, for he was standing above all the people--" Now, when he opened the book, he didn't have a book like this. He had a scroll, but they use the same word. He began to unroll the scroll so he could start reading. And keep in mind the Jews, they unrolled it from the other side because they read from right to left. And so, "He opens it in the sight of all the people. He was standing above all the people and when he opened it, the people stood up."

Now have you noticed here at Granite Bay, and you've probably seen in other churches, that when we have our Scripture reading, what do we do? We stand. Why do we stand? You ever seen people do the Pledge of Allegiance sitting down? Assuming they're not handicapped, they stand. Why do we stand? When someone important comes into the room, and sometimes just a gentleman when you're at a table and they bring someone in to introduce you, you stand up. It's just a sign of respect. And I remember when I was a young teenager, I'd, you know, be slouching in the chair and my dad would bring in some guests, and he'd kind of kick me in the shins say, "Get up." And you're teaching your kids respect. So, when we're getting ready to hear from the Lord and someone's ready to read the Scripture, that would usually be the foundation for the proclamation of the Word as a sign of respect because of this verse here in Ezra. It's sort of Exhibit A, we stand, and that's what they did. And it says that, "He opened the book in the sight of the people. He was standing above the people and when he opened it, the people stood up." And Ezra, "Bless the Lord, the great God." And the they had an invocation, you might say. "And all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting their hands. And they bowed their heads--"

So, another quick point I just want to drop in here, do you always have to kneel when you pray? I think it's important to kneel at some point during the service, and we do that but it's okay to stand for an invocation or for a benediction. You have examples when Solomon did the prayer for the temple, he knelt for the prayer with his hands lifted to God. At the end of the prayer, he stood and blessed, that means a benediction is a blessing. We have that at the conclusion of the service, we often stand. So, I have some friends that argue you're always supposed to kneel in any kind of prayer. That's not biblical. The examples in the Bible, there is a lot of kneeling in prayer, but they also stood at different points for benedictions or for invocations, and they prayed. Notice they bowed their heads, why did they bow their heads? You bow--when you are looking up, shoulders back, it's kind of a position of confidence. When you're humbling yourself, you put your head down.

And when you're in the presence of one greater, you know, it's fun as you travel through the Orient to watch how they greet each other. There's always a little inflection, a bow, it's a sign of respect. So, they bow their heads if they're standing, and they lifted their hands. Now, I'm not going to launch into a Pentecostal sermon right here. But biblically speaking, there's nothing wrong with raising your hands at some points in prayer. I always am a little conscious of that. For one thing, I don't want to do anything that's going to distract anyone around me. And the other reason is, the Bible says, "Lift up holy hands unto the Lord." So, if you're going to lift them up, you're want to lift up holy hands. But there is really nothing wrong biblically with raising your hands.

I, you know, I think you got to be careful about, like I said, don't do anything that you find is going to distract. And there are different customs in different countries. You become all things to all men that you might reach some for Christ. You don't want to go into a service with your shoes on when it's their custom to take the shoes off, right? And so, you just have respect. Paul says, custom to whom custom is due. So, they lifted their hands. They bowed their heads, they worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

And then you can also read in Deuteronomy 1--I'm sorry, Deuteronomy 4, verse 1 and 2. "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land that the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Several times through the writings of Moses, he says, "These words I'm giving you, they're not my words, these are words from God. I've been on the mountain with God, and I've got the Spirit of God." And even when Aaron and Miriam tried to undermine the work of Moses, God had to rebuke Aaron and Miriam and say, "You are not, even though your prophets, you're not like my servant Moses. He is more than a prophet. I speak to him face to face." That's what God said. Even though Moses did not directly look into the face of God, he meant that they had this imminent relationship.

Now, someone's going to read for me, in a moment, Revelation 1:3. Who's got--? Do you have that? And under the section it says, "Reading and hearing the law." Notice also what Moses said in Deuteronomy 6, verse 1 and 2. "Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded you to teach, that you might observe them in the land that you're crossing over to possess, that you might fear the Lord your God, to keep all of His statutes and His commandments which I command you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, that your days may be prolonged." Now, listening to and obeying the Word of God has what? Long life. I believe in the health message, but if you follow the health message and you live wickedly, you will still shorten your life. And so, one of the best things you can do to prolong your lifespan is to have a blessed life because you obey the commandments of God. Go ahead, please read Revelation 1:3.

Female: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near."

Doug: What does God promise for reading His Word? Blessing, but is it just reading it? You notice it says read and hear. Why did He say hear? Can everybody read? No, but you can find someone to read to you. "Blessed are those who read and hear the words of this prophecy." Is it just reading and hearing? We spend our time forever reading and hearing, or what's the other part of that? Keeping, so read is one thing. Now, you can do all three. You can read it. Hearing means Jesus said, "He who has ears, let him hear," that means listening with your heart. Keeping means doing the things that you read. So, there is a blessing pronounced on those who read, hear, and keep--you know, I always like to use that verse.

I do a lot of prophecy seminars. It's amazing how often I'll meet someone that will come to a revelation or a prophecy seminar. And they'll say, "I heard there's a curse pronounced on anybody who reads the book of Revelation. Our pastor says that book is full of cursing, don't read it." Really I've met people like that. I said, "No, it's not, it's blessing." "It's about the beast." "No, it's a revelation of Jesus Christ." People misunderstand the book of Revelation. It's about Jesus, and it's a book that if you read it, there's some tough stuff in there. But if you read it, there's a blessing that comes on those who read, hear, and keep that.

Now, jump to Deuteronomy 31. I still got a lot to cover. Deuteronomy 31, and we're on Monday now, verse 11 and 12. This is a command. What's the last book of Moses? Deuteronomy means a repeating of the law. He kind of covers everything. He repeats it before he dies. It's the last continual sermon, the whole book is a sermon. What's the first book of Moses? Probably Job. Most people think Job--Moses wrote the book of Job as maybe one of the first books, and then Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus. That was a trick question, sorry. But when he gets to the end of his last book, notice the emphasis he has. Deuteronomy 31:11, "When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in one place which He chooses."

Now later, what was the place that he chose? Jerusalem, that happened when David numbered Israel and the angel of the Lord appeared above Mount Zion--Mount Mariah later where they built the temple. And God chose that place ultimately, put the temple. David built an altar there, and they were interceding there. But they would also come together for the feasts. So, whenever they came together, he said, "Gather the people together, men, women, little ones, and the stranger," they don't have to be church members, "who is within your gates, that they may hear, that they may learn," read the Word to them, "to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law."

So, when they came together for these feasts, one of the most important things they would do during that feast is they'd come together, they'd hear, they bring the families.

Now, do we do something like the ancient feast today? Yeah, when you have a camp meeting. We try to get together with special convocations. We're hoping at the new facility to have regular convocations on different subjects, made big space where people can come together, hear the proclamation of the Word, bring in guest speakers that have special emphasis. Notice in Joshua 8, did they do that when they finally enter the Promised Land? Look at Joshua 8, verse 34, "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, the strangers who were living among them." Did Joshua do exactly what he was commanded? He did. Men, women, children, foreigners all came together. And did he read a little or does it say he didn't leave out a word?

They had another convocation and may not have done it in six hours like Ezra, but they went through the entire Law of Moses. And the people, what is the effect of assuming you're awake and you feel good? Karen and I spent six hours on an airplane this week and more than that, yeah. And that was one plane. And I was just thinking, in the time that it takes to do that, you can go through the entire book of Moses, you know, books of Moses, the Torah. And wouldn't that be inspiring? They say to read the entire Bible, if you get Alexander Scourby, you know, he's one of the famous ones. He was actually an actor, but he had great diction and pronunciation. He knew how to read those Hebrew words.

It takes 60 hours to go through the Old and the New Testament reading at that speed, which is a comfortable speed. So, you could go through the entire books of Moses in that time, and they did that in a day. So, he obeyed that.

Now, is it enough just to hear it or do we need to understand it? Look with me in Acts 8:26. Some of you know this is the story of Philip in the Ethiopian. "Now the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, 'Arise and go towards the south along the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'" He was heading down towards the ocean, the country of the Philistines. "This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge over all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning."

So, here's a believer in Jehovah. He's from Ethiopia. He's on his way home. He's sitting in his chariot, and he's reading Isaiah the prophet. "Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go near and overtake the chariot.'" Now, sounds like the chariots moving so Philip's got to kind of overtake it. "So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and he said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' He said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him in--sit with him." Then it tells him he's reading from Isaiah, chapter 53. So he says, "How can I understand unless someone guides me?"

We often need good people to guide us in our understanding. I was talking with another pastor this week and he wanted to know, "Where do you get your information for your sermons?" I said, "I read other preachers. I read Wesley, I did last night in preparation. I read Luther, I read Calvin. I listen to some other good contemporary pastors. Sometimes you have to eat the melon and you spit out the seeds but, you know, there is men of God out there that have some great points. And read the Spirit of Prophecy." I am not walking around with a direct line of the Holy Spirit where God is giving me the words to speak. I've got to study. And we learn from each other, don't we?

You know, part of the key of being a good teacher is you need to listen to lots of things and assemble it in a way, get the best stuff, and assemble it in a way where it's going to do good. It's like a cook. You know, you have a nice stew or something like that. There's lots of different ingredients. A good cook knows how to mix the ingredients. There can be all the same ingredients, not in the right order, can be inedible. You've had those sermons, haven't you? So, it's the right combination. And but we all need people to help us understand, and there's nothing wrong with that.

So he said, "Help me. You're a Jew from Ethiopia." What does he--what is Isaiah talking about here? And he comes to accept Jesus because of that teaching that he had. So, we all need that. Nehemiah, it says here that then these characters, "Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law." There's some people have the gift of teaching. You look at the gifts of the Spirit that Paul mentions, teaching is one of those gifts. "So, they read distinctly from the book, they didn't mumble it, "in the law of God; and they gave the sense, and they helped them to understand the reading." Jesus says in Matthew 28, "Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I've commanded you." So, there's constant teaching that goes on even after baptism so we can grow.

When Jesus rose from the dead, now someone's going to read for me Luke 24:45 in just a moment, but I want to read Luke 24:27. Jesus rose, he spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Was Jesus a Bible teacher? Jesus gave us an example. He read from the Word and He explained it to them. Please go ahead and read your verse.

Male: Luke 24:45, "And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures."

Doug: What good are the Scriptures if you don't comprehend? The Bible is a blessed book. I think you should treat it carefully, but you realize it is nothing but a book unless the words come alive. He says, "The words I speak to you are spirit and life, but if it stays black ink on white paper, does you know good." You need to read it with understanding and as you understand the Holy Spirit, does something in your heart with those truths. That's what makes it so important. Deuteronomy 6, of course, this is the part that leads to the great Shema. "These words that I command you will be in your heart." How do you get them there? Got to read them, they need to be taught. He says, "Teach them diligently to your children. Talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lay down, when you rise up. You will bind them as a sign on your hand. They will be as frontlets between your eyes. You will write them on the doorpost of your house and your gates." Be surrounded with the Word of God.

Paul told Timothy, "Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season." Regular schedules and spontaneous occasions. "Convince rebuke, exhort," that's teaching, "with all longsuffering and teaching, for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine," So, you better teach the good stuff as long as you could. So, when they read it, what happens? It says Nehemiah 8, verse 9, "And Nehemiah, who was the governor, as were the priests, the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep,' for all the people wept when they heard the words of the law."

Now, why did they weep? Because in the stuff they read, you've got Deuteronomy 28 it says, "And if you disobey, all these curses will follow you. Cursed you'll be when you go out, cursed you'll be when you come in, cursed will be your field, cursed will be your family." I mean, just and they realized, "That's what happened to us. We disobeyed. We were carried off to Babylon. We were oppressed during the times of Judges because of our disobedience." And it's not uncommon for them to have that reaction. When King Josiah found the law of Moses, as they were cleaning the temple, I should say, the priests found it. "Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, 'Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.' And Shaphan read before the king." And it happened, "When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes," and he wept.

Please read for me, I think you've got, just a moment I'm going to have you read James 4, verse 8. But before you read that, I'll read this. Go a little further down in 2 Kings 22:18, Prophet Huldah sends a message to the king of Judah. It says, "Thus you shall say to the Lord God concerning the words that you've heard." When they read the law to Josiah, he wept. "Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard what I spoke against this place, and all the inhabitants that the desolation that would come and the curse, and you tore your clothes and you went before Me. I have heard you," says the Lord. God said, "You're going to come to your grave in peace." He said, "I'm going to bless you because you did weep." But God does not want us to stay in an attitude of weeping. Please go ahead and read for us your verse.

Female: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Doug: Amen, of course, that's James 4, verse 8 through 10. The important thing is he talks about there is a time to mourn and humble yourself and weep when we think about our sins. But then he says, "Don't stay that way. Humble yourself," and God will do what? He'll lift you up. So, after the people humbled themselves and they wept, then Ezra and Nehemiah they said, "Don't weep anymore." Notice Ezra 8:10, and I'll close with these verses. "He said to them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet.'" Now, when he says, eat the fat, and eat the fat of the lands, he's talking about to celebrate the feast. "Send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared," care for the poor. "This day is holy, do not sorrow. The joy of the Lord is your strength."

So, does God want Christians to spend most of the time going around weeping and mourning our shortcomings? So, you do that, you humble yourself, God forgives you, and then the gospel is good news. You go around with joy. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "I might have been a preacher if it wasn't that most of the clergyman I knew looked like undertakers." Says we ought to be more happy. Robert Louis Stevenson, he wrote in his diary one day, "I've experienced an extraordinary phenomenon. I went to church today, but I'm not depressed." And Billy Sunday used to say, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere." So, he didn't want them to stay that way. It says, "The people rejoiced greatly because," and this is the last verses here in Nehemiah 8:11. "They rejoiced greatly because they understood the words that were declared to them." That's the way it ought to be, friends, amen? The Word of the Lord should be our joy. Read Psalm 119 if you doubt that.

We're out of time, but I want to remind those who missed the opening announcement, we have a free offer and it is about the Bible, and what a blessed book it is. It's offer number 728. It's called "The Ultimate Resource." We will send this to you for free if you simply call us on the number... That really is 866-Study-More, or you can even download it. If you want to download this resource right now, just text SH091, text that to 40544. You can read it right now and be encouraged. God bless. We'll continue studying His Word together again next week.

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Female: I always wanted to be a daddy's girl. From the time I was very small, I saw other girls that had fathers around, and I always felt different. My natural father left when, I believe, I was four months old, and I did not have a relationship with him. And deep down honestly I always felt like, what did I do? Why didn't he love me? And that's soul shattering for a child. My stepfather came into the picture when I was two years old, and he was sexually abusing me, physically abusing me, and psychologically abusing me for many, many years.

The biggest thought that I can remember back then is having my first thought of suicide when I was ten years old and being so afraid all the time, that it was causing stomach pains, that I would literally be doubled over. I just kept thinking, why doesn't anyone know what's going on in this house? Can't they hear him screaming at me? You know, don't they notice that something is wrong? Don't I seem different? I'm not right. I'm ten, and I feel like I'm dying. Can you not see me?

And out of self-preservation, I finally just walked out of my head for many years, and just didn't remember anymore. It was very, very lonely. I did start drinking when I was 14 years old. What had happened was I had a flashback of being molested, and it shattered me. And I did not know how to cope with it, so I started mixing all different kinds of hard alcohol together, and smoking weed, and being sexually promiscuous. And that was just the beginning of many years of hell.

It wasn't until several years later, I realized that I needed to get help in order to stop using the drugs because I had been separated from God at that point. And I knew that if I didn't get help, that there was not going to be God for me anymore, that I was going to completely take myself away from him. And something just clicked inside me. All my life, I felt like God wasn't there for me and what I realized was that he was.

I'll never forget the time that I was sitting there in church and there was a silk lithograph of Jesus Christ up on the altar, and I could not even look at it because in my soul, I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I couldn't stop. Not even talking about what it was doing to me physically, but that brand-new friend that I had found in God, I was pulling myself away from Him. During that time, off and on, I'd turn on the TV, and Pastor Doug would be there. And one thing that he always said that caught my eye is he always said, "Don't take my word for it, go check your Bible."

"Amazing Facts" helped save my life. It took me years, but I finally found, I finally found God. I finally healed. That little girl that was so shattered, that had no self-esteem, that all her innocence had been taken, God gave back everything and then some. And I go through trials. I'm a single parent. I'm a recovering addict. I have MS and I have fibromyalgia. And I am blessed. I am blessed because I am so mighty with the Lord. Everything that was ever stolen from me, God gave back. And on top of that, he gave me forgiveness and that's what I want everyone to know. He took a broken, broken woman and turned her into a warrior.

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