Gathering Together As One Man
I wonder what it would have been like to have been a fly on the wall when Ezra read the law to the Israelites in Nehemiah 8. These people have finally been freed from Babylonian captivity, and many of them were very possibly hearing the law for the first time. The excitement they had when it was read to them is so great because they got a taste of how awesome God is and realized what they had been missing while they were held captive.
Some of the wording here is so powerful. Verse 6 reads, “Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” The end of verse 9 says, “For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.” The impact that they law had on these people is so profound. It was not something that they were taking lightly. We don’t see that kind of reaction today because we are fortunate to have complete and total access to Him and His word, so we don’t know what it’s like to go so long without having His word near us.
The big key here is found in verse 1. “And all the people gathered as one man…” They were completely united and intent on one purpose, as we are called to be in Philippians 2:2. That purpose was to get back to the Lord. How much more difficult that would have been if there were a few people who thought they didn’t need to go back to God? It would have been completely different!
It’s the exact same for us. If we are all intent on one purpose, serving God, things can get done as they’re supposed to; but even just a few people who don’t have the same purpose can throw a huge wrench in the works of God--all because we are not of the same mind. When we gather together as one man, we can accomplish much.
It’s not always easy, and we can get weary. I love the end of verse 10, where Nehemiah and Ezra are trying to stop the people from crying and being upset because this was to be a joyous occasion: they tell the people, “…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The joy of the Lord is your strength! This is all for God’s glory! It’s why we gather together as one man and keep pressing on. Knowing that what we do pleases Him and helps us along our journey to heaven makes it all worth it.