On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths”-as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.
In obedience to God’s Word, the people celebrated the Day of Atonement, always celebrated on the tenth day of the month, and the Feast of Tabernacles from the fifteenth to the twenty-first. The people celebrated with great joy: The whole company that had returned from exile, built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. (v.17) During the seven days of the feast, the Jews lived in booths made of branches. It was a time of remembering the wandering in the wilderness, the goodness of the Lord, and His promised future kingdom. The people rejoiced in God’s Word, and there was a new willingness to obey His Word. At the Water Gate, revival had begun and the people enjoyed fellowship, feasting, and hearing the Word of God. True revival begins when God’s Word is proclaimed and His people respond. During the course of the history of the church, there have been spiritual revivals. People turn back to God, acknowledge Him as Lord, and are revived by His Holy Spirit: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:37) It was at another Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus said those words, centuries after Ezra had read God’s Word, and the people responded. Jesus Christ is the Water Gate for all who choose to believe in Him today.
Where have you been disobedient to God’s Word? Do you sense that the Lord is asking you to forgive someone and you have stubbornly been refusing? Is He asking you to trust Him in an area of your life? Like the Israelites, when you obey, you will be filled with joy and celebration.
Forgive me where I have disobeyed Your Word. I am committed to following through with Your instructions today. Fill me with Your joy as I seek to do Your will.
In Jesus’ name, Amen