So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up.
Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. – Nehemiah 8:2-6 (NIV)
The church I currently attend (Risen King) does something that I really appreciate: we stand during the reading of the Word. It shows a respect for Scripture and reminds me of the proper relationship I have with God’s Word. The scene described above reflected a return to a right relationship between the people ofIsrael and the Word of God. It had been common practice to stand during the reading of the Law in the past, but obviously Ezra and Nehemiah were working to restore more than a temple and a wall; they were restoring faith and fellowship.
Teaching our children respect for the word and their relationship to it is no easy task, but vitally important. There are so many things in this world pushing our children toward a disrespectful and egocentric attitude. TV, movies, books and computer games celebrate individual rights and relativistic morality. Sports icons and pop idols live irresponsible lives without any serious consequences. Too many politicians, regardless of party persuasions, find no problem with moral ambiguity and changing their positions to suit popularity polls. It is so hard to respect anything.
In so many ways our culture teaches children to question everything and that can seep into them in ways they don’t even realize. If we don’t help them approach Scripture with respect, they may question it more than they allow it to question them and challenge them.
Lord, help me to have a humble and respectful relationship with scripture. Help me to teach my children this respect and allow themselves to be shaped by the Word. May we all hide it in our hearts so that we may not sin against You. Amen.