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Daily Devotional Nehemiah 8:13–18

Have you ever been on a camping trip? I’ve been on several such trips, spending the evenings around the campfire and sleeping on the ground in a tent. Well, today’s passage describes something sort of like that, but also significantly different.

From the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God.


After the celebration of their newfound understanding of Scripture, as recorded in Nehemiah 8, most of the people went home. The family leaders, though, stayed behind and continued to study Scripture. They learned about the Festival of Booths, a weeklong celebration of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. They erected temporary houses, “booths,” or what we might think of as “tents” (though much different from our modern tents). These temporary dwellings reminded the people of their journey out of Egypt and God’s miraculous works on their behalf.

After learning about this festival, the heads of each family sent out word to those who had gone home to return and bring materials to build the “booths.” The people obeyed God’s Word, celebrating God’s redemption in a way they hadn’t since “the days of Joshua son of Nun” (v. 17). This reference to Joshua is significant because it connects the people returning from exile in Babylon to the people of Israel whom God brought out of Egypt. These are the people of God! Ezra read Scripture daily, and God’s people experienced enormous joy as they obeyed God’s Word.

Can you imagine what it would look like today to obey Scripture in this way? The people in Jerusalem knew nothing of this festival. But when they learned of it and realized the time for it was right then, they rearranged their lives and schedules to do what God had commanded them to do. It is no wonder they experienced such joy. Satisfaction in life comes when we obey the Lord.

>> Is there a time in your life when you obeyed the Lord so radically and immediately? Is God calling you to such obedience now? Do not delay!

Pray with Us

Sometimes we obey You with reluctance. But even when we drag our feet, we receive Your grace. We ask that You give us joy in obedience, just as the Israelites found joy in celebrating the festival You ordained.

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