13 Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths[c] during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” 16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made [d]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. 18 Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.
Not only did they long for truth, listen to truth and learn the truth, but lastly they:
4. LIVED OUT THE TRUTH – Vs 13-18
In verses 13-18 we discover that as they studied scripture they discovered that they were not fully following the Lord in all areas. While they had celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles at different times in their history, they were supposed to set up booths made out of branches. They were doing part of what God wanted, but weren’t following all the directions. There are times in my life when my problem isn’t that I’m not following the Lord, it’s that I’m not obeying Him fully. The Feast of Tabernacles was instituted as a reminder of the years when the Israelites wandered in the desert after their Exodus from Egypt. God’s Word called them to live in shacks for a week and they may have wondered why this was so important, especially since the wall was now complete. Sanballat and Tobiah must have just shaken their heads in amazement. They made fun of the wall’s construction and now the people were busy building little shacks. Often obedience to the Word from a worldly perspective can look foolish, but from the Words perspective it’s called faithfulness. God’s Word is not based on our logic or worldly wisdom, its not about trying to look good but living for God. I would rather live in a stick shack that was pleasing to God than a mansion that made me look good to men. When God calls you to obedience, no matter how strange or difficult it appears to be choose to cultivate an attitude of complete commitment and unreserved obedience. If we are people of the Book, then we will live by the Book. What does the Word say about living together before marriage, from a worldly perspective it seems silly not to, I mean how are you going to know if you are compatible? That’s why may people try before they buy. But its not about trying out marriage its about trust God. Because trying out marriage without being married is like building a house without a foundation, there is no commitment. What about sex before marriage, the world ridiculed Tim Tebow for being a virgin. At first this festival may have seemed pointless and old fashioned. But there were three main purposes:
First it was a time for looking back and remembering the nation’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness, when the people were homeless and lived in temporary shelters. It helped them remember where they had come from and how far God had brought them.
Second this “Fall Festival” was also a time for looking around at the harvest blessings from the hand of God.
Third it was also an occasion for looking ahead. They may have been tempted to get comfortable with their new city and their new homes. But the Word of God says, “Remember, your home is not in this world. We are just pilgrims passing through; our real home is in heaven.” After the walls were up, God wanted to make sure they didn’t count on the walls, but instead, count on His WORD. We need that reminder, don’t sink your roots too deep into this world because our true home is in heaven. Are you trying to find your hope in man-made walls or in the Word? The result of obedience was joy. The Joy that comes from learning about His Love for us and the price that Jesus paid for the salvation of our soul. Today we are trying to find joy in our jobs instead of in obedience to Jesus. Joy is an easy thing to lose, but it’s also an easy thing to get back. After you admit that you’ve lost your joy, you need to analyze the cause. You have to look at your life and ask yourself, “How did I lose my joy? What is robbing my joy?” Do you know what will rob your joy faster than anything else? When you know the right thing to do and you don’t do it. What do you know you need to be doing but you’re not? What has God told you to do but you haven’t. The secret to continual, abundant, and overflowing joy is obedience. Matthew Henry, once said: “Holy joy is oil to the wheels of our obedience.” You see to the believer without joy, the will of God is drudgery; but to the believer who is strengthened by the joy of the Lord, the will of God is a delight. Disobedience promises delight but delivers death, disobedience is a Killjoy. So let me ask you, are you building your wall on the Word or on the world? Don’t neglecting the building brick of the Bible.