Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christianity and the Importance of Reading - Part 3

Last time we looked at the expectation that the Israelites would gather together for the reading of the law in their hearing. Today we look at an example of that recorded in Nehemiah 8.

It would probably be best if you read the narrative yourself, but here are the highlights.

The people gathered together in the open square and Ezra the priest brought the Law to be read to them. The assembly consisted of men, women and all who could hear with understanding. The people stood for this reading. We are told that all of the people were attentive to the Book of the Law as it was read to them.

Ezra stood on a platform along with several of the leaders of Israel. The book was read distinctly and the sense of it was explained to the people in order to help them understand the reading. This reading took place from morning until midday. We don’t know what time that would be in our terms, but I would think at least 9 until noon. Perhaps 8 until 2 or something like that.

On another day a similar session was held which lasted for one fourth of the day. On another fourth of the day they confessed and worshiped the Lord.

We can see from these examples that reading was extremely important in the life of the Old Testament Jewish people. God expected that His Word would be read and since they did not all have a copy of their own, it was read publicly to them and they were expected to stand and listen to it.

My first thought is, “How did they have the attention span to do this?” Most of us here in our culture would have a difficult time listening for that length of time with no musical or video going on in the background. Later on in this series I’m going to discuss the issue of attention and the distractions that prevent us from attending to anything for a length of time

It might be a worthwhile exercise for us as men who desire to be faithful to God to think through how attentive we are to God’s Word and what kind of place it has in our lives and minds. Are we losing the ability to read and concentrate on the Word for any appreciable length of time?

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