“Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.” Nehemiah 8:18
A revival and a reformation is happening among the people who have returned to Judea. The people have been celebrating the festival of booths and to the best of their ability following the instructions God had given, and Moses had written in the book of the law.
All throughout the city booths made from the leafy branches of trees were erected and during the days of the festival the people lived in these booths and were reminded of the forty years of their wilderness sojourn as they had traveled from Egypt to Canaan.
When God had instructed the children of Israel to keep this festival part of his purpose was to remind the people of how he had protected and provided for them throughout all the long years of the exodus. But the people had not kept this festival and as a result they had forgotten.
But now they are keeping the festival, and day by day they’re coming to hear the Law read and explained by Ezra the priest and the Levites, and day by day they’re being taught what they would have already known if they’d been keeping and following God’s directions all along.
Many times we abandon activities we don’t understand because we think that if we don’t understand them then there’s no benefit to us. But in many cases the action of obeying must take place if we’re ever going to understand.
I remember talking with a graphologist, a person who has studied about handwriting and what it can reveal about a person. One thing he told us about handwriting is that if you cross your lower case “t” very low on the vertical portion of the letter it indicates a low self-esteem or self image. And then he told us that psychologists didn’t know why but if a person were to intentionally begin to make sure that they crossed there “t’s” high on the vertical staff that their self image would improve.
Obedience and action sometimes need to precede understanding and change.
Many people consider blind obedience a form of legalism but it’s not. Rather it’s a demonstration of faith and trust. We acknowledge that God knows and understands and that many times we don’t. And our obedience shows that we trust in our wise, knowing, and loving God to guide us and tell us what we should do.
Israel experienced great joy as they returned once again to the words of God’s law and obeyed them. We will too if we trust and obey.