Hungry to Hear

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 8

The Great Awakening mightily worked to influence and transform the English colonies in America during the 1730s and 1740s.  The great British evangelist, George Whitefield, played a huge role in that work.  In one year, Whitefield covered over 5000 miles in America and preached over 350 times.  He preached to common folks, native Americans, and slaves.  Even Benjamin Franklin, a religious skeptic, was captivated by Whitefield’s sermons, and the two became friends.  One day, while at the back of an immense crowd gathered to hear Whitefield in Philadelphia, Franklin walked backwards until he could no longer hear the sermon.  From there, he calculated a semicircle and mathematically deduced the crowd to be as many as 30,000 people.  Imagine that!  Thirty thousand people gathered to listen to a preacher in downtown Philadelphia!  Such was the hunger for truth in that day. My, how things have changed!

History reveals that any revival of soul or souls has been accompanied by a corresponding hunger for truth.  The two go hand in hand.  The opposite likewise holds true. Any downward trend into evil and moral degradation is accompanied by a corresponding apostasy and suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18-32).  As a scribe and writer of the books of Chronicles, Ezra was aware of how the rejection of the Law had worked to Judah’s ruin.  As a priest, standing before the great assembly of returned exiles, Ezra was privileged to lead the people in revival.

In Nehemiah chapter eight, we read of the things that accompany spiritual revival.  The response to the Word is key.  In previous generations, that Word had been disregarded, disobeyed, and discarded.  False prophets and teachers worked to mislead the people.  At one point in Judah’s history, the Law of the Lord was even lost.  But God graciously worked, as He had promised, to return the people to the land.  Whereas Zerubbabel and Nehemiah worked to rebuild the temple and the walls, Ezra led in the spiritual restoration.

The people sought the Word.  “All the people gathered as one man” (Nehemiah 8:1).  It was a group of tens of thousands, yet they were gathered as one man.  Surely God must have been in it!  The people told Ezra to “bring the book!” They were hungry to hear. The people reverenced the Word.  Ezra stood on a wooden platform and opened the book in the sight of the people and all the people stood to their feet.  Ezra led in prayer, and everyone bowed and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. In worshiping God, they reverenced His Word.  The people paid attention to the Word.  What’s the longest sermon you’ve ever heard?  These folks stood and listened to the Law of Moses from early morning until midday.  For six hours, they listened.  Not only did they listen, but they were also attentive (Nehemiah 8:3)!  Remember these folks next time you are tempted to complain about the long length of your pastor’s sermon!  The people sought to understand the Word.  They wanted to understand.  Having grown up in a foreign land, most no longer spoke or read Hebrew.  So, some of the Levites helped the people by reading clearly and giving the sense (Nehemiah 8:8).  The people responded to the Word. They wept in the realization of how their nation had sinned (Nehemiah 8:9). But they rejoiced in having heard from God (Nehemiah 8:12). In obedience, they observed the long-forgotten observance of the Feast of Booths (Nehemiah 8:13-18).  And “day by day (Ezra) read from the Book of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:18).

These are the kinds of things that accompany revival, be that of a single soul or an entire nation. While we can’t control what others do, we can adjust our own attitude towards the Word such that it has the freedom to do its good work in us! “O Lord, send a revival and let it begin in me!”

“The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.”

George Mueller


Of self I am weary,
My sin I abhor,
I long to be holy
And pure to the core;
O why do I labor
On husks to be fed,
Or spend my poor money
For what is not bread?

O Lord, send a revival!
Lord, send a revival!
O Lord, send a revival!
And let it begin in me!

Thy church, O my Saviour,
Thy body and bride,
The saints Thou hast ransomed,
For whom Thou hast died—
How cold are we growing
In service and pray’r!
Our love needs rekindling,
Our altars repair. [Refrain]

The world, in its sorrow,
The world needeth Thee;
Revive Thy disciples,
Beginning in me!
Endue us with boldness
The grace to proclaim;
O help us with power
To speak in Thy name. [Refrain]

Thy glorious coming—
We long for the day!
But are we preparing
The holy highway?
Our hand seemeth weakened,
And feeble the knee;
O send a revival,
Beginning in me! [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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