Study Notes

Nehemiah 8:9-12


Last week, we saw that all the Jews of Judea gathered at Jerusalem, requesting that Ezra would bring out the Word of God and read it to them.

Everyone who could listen with understanding stood and listened attentively for about six hours while the Scriptures were read. The leadership also made sure that it was understandable:

Neh. 8:8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

This, I believe, is the perfect definition of the teaching ministry. Making sure that the Word of God is being understood by those who are hearing it.

You have heard of Philip - one of the first deacons to serve in the church at Jerusalem, who became known as a very powerful evangelist. But he was also a teacher of the Word. Once,

Acts 8:26-31 angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert {road} .) And he arose and went; and behold, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the gift of teaching in action: making the Word understandable. I believe that any attempt to keep the Word of God understandable to only a select few is a scheme of the devil. Whether it is someone saying, "Don't read your Bible, don't bring it. We'll tell you what you need to know," or if someone is saying, "No, the only inspired Word of God is in Latin," or, "It is only inspired in this archaic Old English," these are satanic deceptions to keep people from understanding the Word.

The ministry of the teachers are to make sure that the Word is being understood by those hearing it.

The Jews certainly understood what had been read to them, as is evidenced in the next three verses...

8:9-11 The People Were Weeping

The people were weeping when they heard the Word read. It was not the poetic voice of a gifted public speaker. It was not because the book contained a sad story of lovers kept apart. No, it was because the people were cut to the heart about their sin.

Hebr. 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

The Word of God cut them to the heart. It pierced their souls and exposed their iniquity. They wept because they saw their ugliness in the mirror of the Word. They did not do as so many do today, hearing the Word and refusing to let it impact their lives. James said that someone who does this...

James 1:23-24 like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for {once} he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

But James goes on to say that

James 1:25 who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.

The word "blessed" means "to be made happy." Someone who allows themself to be pierced by the Word will grieve over their sin, and then receive the joy of the Lord's forgiveness. This is what James meant when he wrote,

James 4:9-10 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount,

Matt. 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."


Because the people were cut to the heart over the Word, they were comforted, they were blessed.

Ps. 30:5 ...Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy {comes} in the morning.

Nehemiah told them not to mourn or weep. This day was for rejoicing.

Eccl. 3:1,4 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

It was a time to laugh and dance, not to weep and mourn. Why? Because the day was holy.

The Day Is Holy

"The day is holy." This is a confusing statement when you think about it. Why was the day holy? As it turns out, this is a mystery which can be solved with a bit of investigation and reconstruction.

Neh. 7:73-8:1 ...when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel {were} in their cities. And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate...

It was the seventh month.

Neh. 8:13 Then on the second day...

So the day that was holy was the first day of the seventh month. Then we search the Law...

Lev. 23:23-25 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing {of trumpets} , a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'"

And so the day that was holy was the Feast of Trumpets.

The Feast Of Trumpets

If you are a student of the Old Testament, you know that there were seven feasts given by the Lord: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, The Feast of Weeks (called Pentecost), The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Each of these feasts were called a "convocation," which is "Mik-RAW," in Hebrew, meaning "assembly," or "rehearsal." As it turns out, each of these were rehearsals - holidays that prophetically pointed to a work of Jesus Christ, and celebrated on the very days that they were - or would be - fulfilled.

Passover pointed to the Lamb of God being killed, His blood preventing the judgment of God from coming upon all those who were covered by it.

As Passover ended, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began, telling of the sinless, broken, body of Jesus Christ being buried.

The Sunday after, the Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated, foretelling of the resurrection of Jesus, the firstfruits from among the dead.

Fifty days later, the Feast of Weeks spoke of Jesus giving birth to the church - the day of Pentecost.

A long period passes in the calendar without any holidays. Then, all of a sudden comes the Feast of Trumpets.

The Feast of Trumpets was a Sabbath day - a day when trumpets are blown and workers cease from their labors. But interestingly, there is little more information given about it. Of the seven feasts, it is the deepest mystery. At least it was a mystery until it was unveiled by the apostle Paul.

In 1Corinthians 15, Paul is talking about new bodies that we will receive at death - bodies that are glorified, resurrected, and changed. But then he tells us that not everyone will die to get these bodies:

1Cor. 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Although all Christians will receive a new body, not all Christians will necessarily be dying to get them!

This is what has been called "The Rapture."

The Rapture

It seems that you can't use the word "rapture" in church without someone coming up saying, "That word's not in the Bible." This is not necessarily true. You see, when we read the book of 1Thessalonians, we discover what why we use this word. Speaking of this event, Paul wrote,

1Ths. 4:17 ...we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air...

The Greek word rendered here as "caught up," is "har-PAD-zo." Its definition is, "to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away." When the Bible was translated from Greek into Latin, the Greek word "har-PAD-zo" was translated into the Latin word "raptus." Our word "rapture" from the Latin "raptus." The rapture is a catching up in the air.

This catching or snatching will be accompanied by the blowing of a trumpet. Remember Paul's words to the Corinthians:

1Cor. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...

He also wrote of this trumpet blast to the Thessalonians,

1Ths. 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

There is another, less obvious place where this trumpet is described. If you are a student of the book of Revelation, you know that John was told to write this book in three divisions:

Rev. 1:19 "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.

"The things which you have seen" were what John wrote in chapter one. "The things which are" were the things of the church, to which he devoted chapters two and three. "The things which shall take place after these things" began in chapter four, which described the final seven year period of man's rule on this earth. Between the division of the things of the church and the future to come, we read this:

Rev. 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door {standing} open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like {the sound} of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."

John was in the now, the period of the church. Then, a trumpet sounded and he was caught up to heaven. I believe that this is a very obvious picture of the rapture to be found in Revelation.

The teaching of the rapture - the fact that one day soon, Jesus will say,

Isa. 26:20 Come, my people, enter into your rooms, And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while, Until indignation runs {its} course.

This teaching has been attacked by many. They say it has no basis in church history, and yet it is so clear that it was taught to the first century churches in high priority. They say that it is a "feel good" doctrine that prevents believers from preparing themselves for the last days. Frankly, I don't care that they call it a "feel good" doctrine. Because it's SUPPOSED to make us feel good!

When Paul was writing about it, he said,

1Ths. 4:17-18 ...we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The teaching of the rapture IS a comfort! It DOES make believers feel good! And right here in Nehemiah, we see that this holy day was not to be observed as a day of mourning and weeping. It was to be a day of happiness and feasting!

A Day To Eat

The people were told to celebrate the day, the Feast of Trumpets, by eating. When we are raptured, we will sit down at the table of Jesus, and we will hear the true words of God saying,

Rev. 19:9 ...‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'

We too will eat on that holy day, celebrating our God.

Celebrating Their Understanding

The people celebrated a great festival, BECAUSE they understood the Word.

Christians who look like they've been baptized in lemon juice don't understand the Word. Those who don't understand the teaching of the rapture, the filling of the Spirit, the freedom in Christ, or the unconditional love of God, are not celebrating. They are spiritual sour-pusses. They are the frozen chosen. They are stuck in legalism, preaching the sorrow of repentance without the joy of grace.

They need only to ask for the wisdom to understand. For the Spirit has been promised to teach them all things. As Jesus said to ask in His name,

John 16:24 ...ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.

Next week, we will see more of the prophetic picture unfold in the feasts. Until then, remember, our future is heaven, and we are...

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;

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