A Nation Turns Back To God
By Bill Elliff
The Book of Nehemiah is an amazing account of one of the great revivals in human history. The Jews had rebelled against God, leading to their being overcome by and in captivity to the Babylonians for many years.
True to form, God still had His hand on His people. He miraculously moved Cyrus, the king, to return the people to their land. He also later allowed Nehemiah to return and rebuild the walls, which was completed in 52 days.
Then the people returned to the city to meet together as a nation. And what did they do? They made a small wooden platform and called the godliest leader they knew, Ezra, along with other priests, to simply read the Word of God and translate it, to “give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8).
This is called preaching. And what were the results of the Spirit-led preaching of God’s Word to His people?
As the people realized how far short they were falling, they began to weep and mourn. “...All the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law” (8:9). They did this “because they understood the words which had been made known to them” (8:12).
The people had not done what God desired. They immediately began to correct this, preparing to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This was a feast they had been commanded to observe annually to remind them of what God had done for them in the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land.
For the next seven days, as prescribed by God in the Word they had heard, they “stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God” (9:2-3). This was called a solemn assembly. And the results of this practice were nation changing.
God revived (i.e. brought to life again) His people. Then they wrote a fresh covenant to be faithful before God. The leaders signed it first, then all the people. It was a full, nationwide revival. (Can you imagine such a thing in our nation?)
Where did this all begin? There were many factors, but one of the indispensable elements was the God-initiated, timely preaching of the Word of God.
Never forget that God’s Word is “like a hammer which shatters a rock” (Jer. 23:29). It is one of God’s primary means of grace to advance His kingdom and accomplish His purposes.
We must not neglect or minimize preaching. And we should consistently put ourselves under the sound of true, biblical preaching, and bring others we love to do the same. It might mean the salvation of a nation.
– Used by permission. Bill Elliff is the Sr. Teaching Pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and also helps lead OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening.