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Beginning Afresh with God

Rev. Tetteh-Annor Larbi | December 8, 2023 | Nehemiah 8:1-3


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. Nehemiah 8:1



At this point in chapter 8 of Nehemiah, the wall had been completed and the gates and doors had been erected. The people’s physical covering and protection had been installed and raised to prevent their enemies from having easy access to their space and their possessions. However, the discerning community recognized that material fortifications alone were not sufficient. Understanding the need for comprehensive protection, they embarked on a quest to identify and secure additional safeguards for their well-being.

Their gathering was instinctive as though they were being driven by a force to a particular location to seek what they needed at the beginning of their new livelihood. Intuitively, they recognized the indispensable need for the word of God to underpin their emerging civilization and sustain their existence. This instinct guided them to Ezra, a contemporary of Nehemiah, who served as both scribe and priest—the custodian of the sacred wisdom they sought to shape their collective destiny.

Remember we have learnt that the Water Gate is the place of washing, a place of confession and a place of hearing the word of God and repentance. Faced with the awareness of past disobedience that led them into exile and slavery and having tasted the mercy of God providing a second chance for righteous living, the people inherently sensed the imperative of seeking God for a fresh start.

The realisation of our faults and our ability to turn around and gravitate towards God is a grace that God provides so we can find Him. “For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12). This realization not only signifies repentance but also reflects the longing for a fresh start with God, a desire that He implants in our spirits to foster intimacy with Him.


Do you feel accomplished to the point where you feel like you do not need God? Have you gotten to a point where you have found rest in physical things? True security and rest are only found in God; seek Him. Begin the next phase of your life with God as the foundation; study His word as your guide. Seek God in His Word.


Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing me to this point in my life. For the next phase of my life, I pray that you give me a hunger for your word, so I will find you through reading and hearing it. Help me to seek you diligently and build a stronger foundation for the days ahead. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.


The phrase "gathered together" in Nehemiah 8:1 is translated from the Hebrew words "וַיֵּאָֽסְפוּ֙ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם" (vayye'as'fu kol-ha'am), which literally means "and they gathered all the people." The root word for "gathered" is "אָסַף" (asaf), and it implies a coming together or assembling of individuals.

The Hebrew root "אָסַף" (asaf) is frequently used in the Old Testament to convey the idea of gathering or assembling. In contexts like Nehemiah 8:1, it often refers to the gathering of people for specific purposes, such as worship, celebration, or instruction. Another notable example is in Psalm 106:47, where the psalmist expresses a desire for the people to be gathered to give thanks to the Lord.

The act of gathering together holds significance in the biblical narrative. In Nehemiah 8:1, the people gathered to hear the reading of the Law by Ezra. This assembly was not a random or casual gathering but a deliberate coming together for a sacred purpose—to listen and respond to God's Word.


This reflects the importance of communal worship, learning, and celebration in the life of believers. The unity and shared experience of gathering contributes to the spiritual growth and encouragement of the community.

How can we intentionally cultivate a sense of purpose and sacredness when we gather together as a community of believers, recognizing that our coming together is not just a routine but an opportunity to encounter God's Word and grow together in faith?

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