Sunday School Material 8-4-13: Feast of Tabernacles

(Nehemiah 8:2-3, 13-18; 8/4/13)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that the Jews heard and obeyed God’s word specifically regarding the temporary shelters. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to hear and obey God’s word, in every area of our lives.

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Nehemiah 8:2-3

I. Reading the Law. In our Sunday School material says Ezra is said to be the priest. He reads the Law to the people - men, women, and those old enough to understand. The people are said to listen attentively.

Applications -

- Hearing and obeying God’s word. Notice in vss. 2-3 of our Sunday School material that after all the Jews had been through, it came back that everyone needs to hear and obey God’s word.

So it is today, when people get finished with all that occupies their attention - pursuit of money, chasing after pleasure, or seeking revenge - we will have to come back to hearing and obeying God’s word.

Nothing will satisfy the human experience like being in fellowship with God. In order to be in fellowship with God, we must hear and obey His word. The sad thing is that some people have to go through a Babylon experience in order to appreciate the necessity and satisfaction that comes from hearing and obeying.

Let’s work on appreciating the necessity of hearing and obeying God’s word, before we have to experience more Babylonian experiences. A great part of this application includes being faithful in personal and congregational study of God’s word and then obeying the things that God is calling us to do.

- Honoring God with standing and obeying. Notice in vss. 2-3 of our Sunday School material that the people were attentive to long scripture readings and explanations, after their painful experiences in Babylon.

There are too many who don’t appreciate the word of God, until they have been through some painful situations. Let’s work on appreciating God’s word, before we have to experience the pain.

As for standing to honor the reading of God’s word, that sounds like a good idea. But a better idea is to stand for the reading and then obey what was read.

God doesn’t get much glory out of our standing for the reading of passages that call us to study, serve, give, love one another, and follow leadership and then fail to obey what was just read. Let’s honor God with obedience, not just standing for the scripture reading. 

Read Nehemiah 8:13-18

II. Heeding the Law. In our Sunday School material it appears that the people discovered an ordinance of God, as they were reading and listening to the Law.

The people were to live in temporary shelters during the feast of the seventh month - Tabernacle. The people complied with the ordinance.

Applications -

- Leaders in Bible study. Notice in vs. 13 that the leaders of the congregation and families were noted for being in the place where the word was being shared. In like manner, leaders should be some of the first people in Bible Studies and teaching sessions.

It is embarrassing to see title holders who only come to a Bible study when they are threatened with having their title taken away, if they don’t come to a Bible study. Leaders should lead by their example of being in Bible study and obeying what they study.

The church should insist on such, even if it means fewer but more discipled leaders. Let’s work on being and supporting leaders who lead us to Bible study.

- Discovery and obedience. Notice in vss. 14-17 of our Sunday School material that the people discovered an instruction about building tabernacles, booths, or huts and then they obeyed what they discovered.

First, we ought to discover some things as we study God’s word. We may discover a truth that we had been over looking. Or we may discover a way of applying a truth that we were familiar with.

Second, the more we discover, the more we should obey. It is dangerous to know a great deal about the Bible but live by so little of what we know.

Let’s work on discovering and obeying what God is calling us to do. We already know that God is calling us to make sure we have accepted Jesus as our savior and that we are loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

- Inspiring rituals. Notice in vs. 14 of our Sunday School material that the booths, tabernacles, huts, or temporary shelters were concerned with the people remembering how when their fore parents left Egyptian slavery, they were absolutely dependent on God for protection and provision. Furthermore, God protected and provided for them.

First, we should work on having meaningful reminders of how God has brought us. Church anniversaries, family reunions, Resurrection Day (i.e., Easter), Christmas, and even birthdays may be good times to engage in such rituals. The ritual may be something as simply as each person sharing a reflection about how good the Lord has been since the last time we gathered.

Second, our rituals should inspire us to obey God from the present forward. Rituals that don’t inspire obedience and faithfulness become irrelevant and worthless. Let’s work on meaningful and inspiring rituals to keep our faith strong in the God who has brought us this far.

- Keeping God’s word before us and rejoicing. Notice in vss. 17-18  that the people not only received the word every day for at least the eight days mentioned, but according to vs. 17, they also had great joy.

First, it is important that we keep God’s word clearly and consistently before us. Personal study, congregational study, and word based worship are great ways to carry out this application.

Second, there ought to be some joy in obeying God. If we cannot rejoice in the present, we should be able to rejoice about the promise. Sometimes in the present, we have to forgive those who have mistreated us.

It can be difficult to rejoice in these times. But the promise attached to our forgiving - God will forgive us - is easy to be joyful about. Let’s work on keeping the word before us and rejoicing as we obey.

Conclusion: Let’s work on hearing and obeying God’s word, in every area of our lives. God has much for those who obey His will.

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