“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” Those are the words of David in Psalm 85:6. And those are the words that I hope are on our lips by the time we conclude our study this morning.
It is not uncommon for believers to at times drift into periods of weakness and indifference. For there to be stretches where there is little passion for the things of God, and little concern for how we might live for the glory of God. There are times when when we would best describe our spiritual life as dry, stagnate, and lifeless. And yet, the believer is not ok with this. The heart inevitably speaks, “Will you not revive us again?
My guess is that some of your are in that very spot. The things of God do not interest you much like they used to. Bible reading is a chore that never gets done. Serving in the body is a burden. Old habits are becoming regular again. And your interest in the truth has wained. And what you need more than anything else is a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit. You need a revival.
Now when I say the word “revival,” for some, that word conjures up images of big tent meetings with a preacher who can raise their voice a lot more than I can. Scheduled meetings where special services are held for a week, maybe two. People going door to door, handing out tracts. And that’s all well and good. But in Nehemiah 8 we see a revival of a different kind. There’s no tent. There’s no fiery evangelist. Instead, there’s a recovery of - and return to - the Word of God. Up until this point, the focus in Nehemiah has been on the re-building of the walls. But now, the story takes a decisive shift and it’s no longer about physical restoration, but spiritual restoration. The first six chapters are about the building of walls, and now the rest of Nehemiah is about the building of people.
And what happens in chapter 8 is unique. It had been two hundred years since something like this had taken place. The last time would have been during the reign of King Josiah and the scribe Shaphan found the Book of the Law. Keep in mind that al these people who had returned to Jerusalem had been spent the entirety of their lives in captivity. They’ve lived with Babylonians, without a real awareness of what it means to be the people of God. Life for them was not the same as it had been for their ancestors. They knew they belonged to God but they were literally starving because what was missing was the Word of God. And so, as J.I. Packer so aptly says regarding this chapter, “God broke in.”