April 28, 2019 – Nehemiah 8 – 9
Lesson Date: April 28, 2019
Focal Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-18; 9:1-3, 38
AIM: To lead students to discover the effects Bible reading had on the ancient Jews, and to commit themselves to regular Bible reading in hopes those same effects will be produced in their lives.
Before class: Read the notes on Nehemiah 8 – 9 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following on the marker board or chalkboard:
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the students that some words just naturally go together, such as salt and pepper, bread and butter, up and down, and mother and father. Ask them to name other such natural pairings, then ask them to complete these phrases: “action and __________” (reaction), “cause and ________” (effect).
Tell the class we live in a cause and effect world: flip the switch and the light comes on; turn the key and the car starts; work at your job and you receive a paycheck. We are accustomed to certain things happening as a result of other things.
Ask: “What is the result of Bible reading?” Allow time for a few responses, then tell the class in today’s lesson we are going to learn about the effects Bible reading had on the ancient Jews. We will also examine ourselves to see if Bible reading might produce the same results in our lives.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that last week we had a special Easter lesson from the Gospel of John.
- Ask: “Prior to that, what were the last two lessons from Nehemiah about?” (overcoming opposition).
- Ask: “In what ways did those lessons help you handle opposition?”
- Remind the class that in 445 c. Nehemiah came from Persia and led the Jewish people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The walls were completed and the city was secured. Today’s lesson begins immediately after the walls were finished.
- The People Desired God’s Word.
- Ask a volunteer to read Nehemiah 8:1-3.
- Ask: “According to verse 1, what did the people ask Ezra to do?” (bring out the book of the Law and read it to them).
- Tell the class the people remembered the command Moses gave in Deuteronomy 31:12 that they were to gather periodically to hear the reading of the Word of God.
- Ask: “According to verse 3, how long did Ezra read to them?” (from morning until midday).
- Ask: “Can you imagine listening to someone read aloud for half a day? What does verse 3 say about the attitude of the people?” (they were attentive).
- Remind the class that before the invention of the printing press, ancient people did not own books or Bibles. The scriptures were copied by hand onto large scrolls. The only way the people could hear or learn God’s Word was for someone to read it to them.
- Read Nehemiah 8:4-8.
- Note from verse 5 the reverence the people had for God’s Word: they stood up when it was read.
- Tell the class verse 8 reveals that this was a teaching time – they read the Bible distinctly, explained what it meant, and caused the people to understand. This is exactly what we try to do in Sunday School!
- Read Nehemiah 8:9.
- Tell the class the people were grieved when they realized how far they had fallen short of God’s standards.
- Ask a volunteer to read Nehemiah 8:10-12.
- Ask: “According to verse 12, why did the people rejoice?” (because they understood the Word of God).
- State that unfortunately, in our modern technology-driven world, we often take our Bibles and Bible instruction for granted.
- Summarize: The ancient Jews wanted to hear God’s Word, so they asked Ezra to read it to them. They reverently listened and rejoiced to hear it.
- They Resumed Their Worship.
- Tell the class throughout the remainder of this lesson we will discover four effects Bible reading had on the ancient Jews.
- Read Nehemiah 8:13-18.
- Explain the following:
- The Jews discovered from reading the Bible that God had commanded them to live in temporary booths or shelters during the annual Feast of Tabernacles.
- This was to remind them that their ancestors lived in tents during their wanderings in the wilderness.
- This command had been forgotten: they had not done this since the time of Joshua.
- The people made booths and lived in them throughout the seven-day feast.
- They were very glad to resume a long-forgotten worship practice.
- Ezra read the Bible to them every day.
- Complete the first word on the board – “Resume.”
- Tell the class that Bible reading caused the ancient Jews to resume a neglected worship practice.
- Ask: “Have you neglected some part of worship that should be resumed? Have you stopped coming to church on Sunday night or Wednesday night? Have you neglected your private worship or devotional time? Are you willing to resume the things you have neglected?”
- Summarize: As a result of reading the Bible, the ancient Jews resumed a neglected worship practice.
- They Repented of Their Sin.
- Ask a volunteer to read Nehemiah 9:1-3.
- Explain that this occurred two days after they completed the seven-day feast of Tabernacles.
- Ask: “How did they come?” (in an attitude of repentance).
- Ask: “What did they do?” (separated themselves from the world and confessed their sins – see 1 John 2:15).
- Tell the class they read the Bible one-fourth of the day and confessed another fourth of the day.
- Ask: “Do you believe they were serious about being right with God?”
- Complete the second word on the board – “Repent.”
- Ask: “Has God reminded you of a sin you need to confess and repent of? Are you harboring some hidden sin, perhaps sinful attitudes or thoughts? Are you willing to confess and repent of (turn away from) those sins?”
- Summarize: As a result of reading the Bible, the ancient Jews repented of their sins.
- They Remembered God’s Mercy.
- Tell the class that next a group of Levites stood up before the people and led a long public prayer.
- Read through some of the highlights of Nehemiah 9:4-37 (such as verses 6-7, 9, 11, 12, 16, 21, 33, and 36).
- Explain that the Jews remembered God’s goodness to them throughout their history, in spite of their continual unfaithfulness to Him. They remembered God’s mercy.
- Complete the third word on the board – “Remember.”
- Ask: “Has God been good to you, in spite of your sin and tendency to rebel? Have you been as faithful to Him as He has been to you? Can you remember God’s mercy to you in the past? Does God’s mercy in the past inspire you to live more faithfully for Him?”
- Summarize: As a result of reading the Bible, the ancient Jews remembered God’s mercy upon them in the past.
- They Recommitted Themselves to the Lord.
- Ask a volunteer to read Nehemiah 9:38.
- Tell the students the Jews made a new covenant, promising to obey God and not forsake His house. The details and signers of the covenant are listed in chapter 10.
- Complete the last word on the board – “Recommit.”
- Ask: “Do you need to recommit yourself to the Lord? What areas of your life are not fully committed to the Lord? Are you willing to recommit yourself to Him?”
- Summarize: As a result of reading the Bible, the ancient Jews recommitted themselves to the Lord.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that we began class talking about cause and effect. Review the four effects of Bible reading using the four words on the board. Ask the following questions:
“The Jews resumed a neglected worship practice – do you need to do that?”
“The Jews repented of their sins – do you need to do that?”
“The Jews remembered God’s goodness and mercy in spite of their sin and rebellion – can you remember the same in your life?”
“The Jews recommitted themselves to the Lord – do you need to do that?”
Tell the class people used to say that a good education consisted of the “three R’s.” Tell them the “four R’s” written on the board go together to produce another important “R” – Revival. Bible reading can cause us to resume, repent, remember, and recommit; all of which brings revival in our spiritual life.
Hold up your Bible. Tell the class the Bible is pretty much “harmless” if left on the shelf; but if we read the Bible it can have a profound effect on our lives. Ask: “Are you reading the Bible faithfully? Are you reading it as much as you should?” Encourage everyone to make a commitment to read the Bible every day. Suggest that they follow the Daily Bible Reading Guide in their quarterly, or read a chapter a day from the Psalms or Proverbs, or read the Gospel of John or 1 John, or follow some other Bible reading plan.
Tell the students you have already asked them if they need to resume a neglected worship practice, repent of their sins, remember God’s mercy, or recommit themselves to the Lord. Ask them to personally and privately make whatever commitment they should, as you lead a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Nehemiah 8:8. Encourage them to read their Bibles every day.
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