• Chris Steele

The Next Time We Think About Complaining

Be Strong, Be Well — Friday, March 19, 2021

Our church buildings are designed for function and comfort. Protection from the elements, temperature controls, lighting, sound systems, and padded pews, all serve to provide a place for public Bible classes and worship, while keeping us sheltered and comfortable. We have grown accustomed to these things and expect them.

We are more willing to sacrifice comforts and conveniences when an activity is important enough to us. Why then do we tend to complain when we don’t have what we expect in our church buildings?

In Nehemiah eight, the people of Israel who had returned to Palestine after the captivity years had ended, gathered to hear the reading of the Law of Moses. Perhaps it had been decades since it was read in public. The younger generation may have never heard it before.

Nehemiah recorded, “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. (8:1–3).

Continuing in verse 5, “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.”

Let’s emphasize: Everyone who could understand came and stood to hear the reading of God’s word. The reading took from morning until midday. The people stood the entire time the law was read and explained. Surely, they grew tired. Maybe they were hungry and thirsty. That was at least 4 hours, maybe more. But, everyone knew how important it was.

“And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).

Can you imagine scheduling a session of reading scripture for 4 or 5 hours, outside, and standing the entire time? We might get a handful of loyal brothers and sisters to attend, but I doubt there would be very many.

Despite standing for that long, the people left rejoicing. They had heard the most important thing that they could ever hear and learn. They had learned God's will. The Levites told them to go, eat and be glad.

The next time we complain because we think the sermon is too long or the temperature is not set to our liking, remember the people Nehemiah and Ezra told us about. —Chris

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