Bread from the Bible: A little more than a Meme
I’m thinking we need an Ezra moment in America. My morning devotions have been from the book of Nehemiah. Israel’s walls were broken and needed rebuilding. The story of how that happened is really a miracle story and a story that has provided Christians throughout the centuries with principles for rebuilding what is broken. This week I got to the part in the story where Ezra steps out into the street and opens up the Word of God. The hammers stopped and the Priest Ezra read the Story of God aloud. The people stood there all day and listened. At the end of the reading, they wept.
They were convicted and sorrowful at how they had forgotten what God had done for them. They grieved that they and their ancestors had chosen to turn aside from the God who loved them. They realized as a people that they had chosen the destruction of the holy city and the enslavement of their people because they had spurned God’s word given to them by the prophets. They had turned aside to their own ways. They had been living in sin all of their lives.
The prophet Amos said, ““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”
We have bread and water here in America, but the Word of God seems to be lost in the clamor of this age. We get a bite or two now and again floating through the newsfeed in the form of memes. That’s good, I suppose, but it’s barely a snack. We have eaten so little of God’s word that we can’t stomach much more than a sentence or two.
I’m not saying that God’s word isn’t powerful even in small bites. What I am saying is the world has become very very loud. The world shouts for its voice to be heard in order to build its platform, to get our attention, and to entice the people of God away from the eternal story that leads to life and freedom. The ruler of the world is betting we’ll scroll to the next thing without giving a Scripture meme a second thought. (Squirrel!)
Ezra could have been puffed up because he was a spiritual leader that could bring his people to tears. He could’ve thought, “Oh, man, I brought them down.” But neither he nor Nehemiah wagged their fingers in derision at the pitiful state of these ragtag rebuilders. They encouraged the people to receive God’s forgiveness and to rejoice.
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Right now it seems we are far from being able to rejoice because obviously, there is a process that they went through to get to the place of rejoicing---a process that we as Christians on this side of the cross must enter into as well.
The tears were important to the restoration. We have tears we need to shed, especially the people of God, if we want to be restored to the fullness of God’s blessing upon us. I don’t believe that will happen until we return to the Word of God and eat it. We need to remember the Great Story and the God who is writing it. We need to live in grace by stepping out of the world into the kingdom God purchased for us through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Everyone is invited to be a part of that story… the redemption story —every age, both genders, any nationality or RACE! Jesus came for sinners so we are all qualified when it comes to the prerequisite for redemption.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;” (Is. 55:1-2)
I’m grieving for America today but I wanted to “send some [words of encouragement] to those who have nothing prepared.” Get back to God’s Word. You need it for these days of famine. We still have God’s word at our disposal. It isn’t lost. Don’t starve. Tuck it away it in your heart, meditate on it and let it flow through you to a world that is ravenous.
Maybe you think I’m jumping ahead like I’ve turned over to the middle of the book and started there? That’s a good observation because the rebuilding came first. Before you can rebuild you probably have some things in your life that need sorted. It's good to take an assessment of where you are. There are things you need turn away from---broken things that you've held onto for too long. Look around. Are you getting up to a devastated life and a faith that you haven't tended in a long time? Position yourself to feed on the Bread of Life by making a step toward Jesus. This is repentance---a gift to the saint and the sinner.
"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Ps. 34:18)
The cynic will say the rebuilding of America under God is impossible. They will ridicule the idea and say it can’t happen. Those are the same kinds of people Nehemiah turned his back on and we should do the same.
Let’s get to work at our allotted places and avoid the compulsion to shout at our neighbors to get busy and do their part. Let's do "what is mine to do."
May God "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble." God alone knows, but we may get to be part of a miracle?