In the days of Nehemiah, Ezra was commanded to “Bring the Book”. He stood up, opened the Book, and read from it distinctly and gave the sense so that they understood the words. Their obedience to the Word was immediate. A reading of Nehemiah 8:1-18 will show that bringing back the Book brought remorse, repentance, revelation, revival, and rejoicing.
Josiah, when he was eight years old (the eight signifying a new beginning), became king of Judah. The new beginning really started when he gave the command to repair the House of the Lord, for in the repairing of the House, Hilkiah the high priest exclaimed, “I have found the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord.” Josiahs heart was tender, and he humbled himself before God and His Word. Repentance was followed by recovery and a removal of that which had deified the House and the nation. The Passover was reinstated, for the king commanded, “Keep the Passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the Book of this covenant” (2 Kings 22:1-23:25).
Paul, in the final days of his life, with his execution on Neros block fast approaching, said, “Bring the books and especially the parchments.” Bring the books and bring the parchments! Were these parchments not the sacred pages of the Scriptures on which he would feed his soul in his final days and hours (2 Tim 4:13)?
Why such an emphasis on The Word? Why such great consequences when they brought back the Book? We are entering a New Millennium. What are our needs? Where are we going? What desirable and undesirable trends are taking place among us? If we truly had understanding of the times and knew, like those of Issachar, what Israel ought to do, what would we be standing and proclaiming (1 Chron 12:32)?
It seems that we have to Bring Back the Book! We are ever in danger of raising a generation where the Book is not preeminent. We need a bringing back, a rekindling of our desire for the Book. The Psalmist said, “Thy Law do I love.” Seven times a day he praised God for what he found in His Word! The Psalmist fed his own soul from the Word, and this is certainly one of our greatest needs today But he also could feed the souls of others for he wrote, “When thou hast taught me Thy statutes, my tongue shall speak of Thy Word” (Psalm 119).
If there is a lack of expositional teaching in the local assemblies and at our Bible conferences, it must be because of a lack of expositional studying! Could we suggest that the sheep will truly be fed by textual rather than by topical preaching? Could we then ask those who are charged with the feeding of the sheep, in their desire for the Book, to study it book by book, grasp the significance of that portion of the Scriptures, and pass it on to others?
We need to bring back a recognition of the demands of the Book. We cannot be selective as to the passages that we are going to obey Have we in some places decided that certain doctrines are not as important as others? Someone has said that the “ten commandments” were not the “ten suggestions”! Do we sometimes look at the Scriptures that way and see only a set of suggestions that we pick and choose from? Before we open the Book, out of tender hearts, let us pray, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth” (1 Sam 3:9).
We need to bring back a recognition that we get our direction from the Book. It is to be our final counsel but it is to be also our first counsel. Acknowledging God that He may direct our paths means acknowledging His Word. Is this proposed path consistent with His Word? If not, I am not to embark on it. If I find myself in a path that is not in keeping with His Word, and therefore not in keeping with His will, I must get off it immediately Obedience cannot be postponed and it cannot be partial.
We were at one time called “the chapter and verse people” because of our knowledge of the Scriptures and our desire to follow what was written. Could we get back to a point where that was an apt description? Paul said to the Ephesian elders, “I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace” (Acts 20:32). There was no other resource. They needed no other resource.