January 21

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6

“all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.” vs. 1

It was a big day for Israel. The exiles had brought with them from Babylon scrolls containing what was likely portions of the book of Deuteronomy, and Ezra the scribe arranged to have it read publicly in Jerusalem. The scene reminds us of the time during the reign of Josiah shortly before the fall of Judah when the king ordered what was likely the same material to be read before the people. These were the first times in Israel that the written word was given authority as a guide for holy living. Before this the word of the Lord came solely through the oracles of the prophets. In our day we’ve become accustomed to think of the bible as a holy book and many people read portions every day. Naturally we have our favorite sections. Some like the psalms while others are drawn to the gospels…not so many would turn first to the laws of the pentateuch. That kind of reading is important for all of us. The bible is our community’s book and in it we discover the values and teachings of our spiritual ancestors. Most importantly, it’s in the bible, the written word, that we are introduced to Jesus, the incarnate Word, the one in whom we find enlightenment and life.

Thought for the Day: What’s my favorite part of the bible?

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