Today the people observe the Feast of Tabernacles which they learn about from the reading of the Book of the Law. “So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God.”
The Feast of Tabernacles has been celebrated since the days of Joshua (1 Kings 8:2, 1 Kings 8:65-66, Ezra 3:4) but not with such zeal for God’s Word. In the Conquest Era, when Joshua led the people in conquering the promised land, the people were celebrating being settled into the land, much like the celebration in Jerusalem that Nehemiah is describing. The remnant has returned from captivity in Babylon and are celebrating their renewed life with the Lord in their homeland.
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.” Then the Levites tell the magnificent Story of the Lord to the children of Israel, beginning with the Exodus Era, through where they are at this point in the Return Era: “You saw the affliction of our
fathers in Egypt…And You divided the sea before them…You came down also on Mount Sinai…and gave them just ordinances and true laws…And told them to possess the land which You had sworn to give them…they refused to obey…they made a molded calf for themselves…Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness…Forty years You sustained them…You gave them kingdoms and nations…You also multiplied their children…And brought them into the land…Nevertheless they were disobedient…You delivered them into the hands of their enemies…You gave them deliverers who saved them…Yet they would not listen…You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.”
We end the reading with the people agreeing to walk with the Lord and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord.
Tomorrow we read about the growing population in Jerusalem as well as the priests and Levites who will minister to the people, so keep reading.