All the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.
So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet. . . .
On October 9 the family leaders of all the people, together with the priests and Levites, met with Ezra the scribe to go over the Law in greater detail. (Nehemiah 8:1-5, 13)
The “Book of the Law of Moses” was probably the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The people rose to their feet in respect and anticipation. They listened attentively to Ezra as he read God’s Word, and their lives were changed. The people wept openly when they heard God’s laws and realized how far they were from obeying them. The following day, the people came to study them further and then acted upon them.
A careful reading of Scripture always calls for action. What should we do with this knowledge? How should our lives change? Because we hear the Bible so often, we can become dulled to its teachings and immune to its impact. Instead, we should listen carefully to every verse and open our hearts to God’s Spirit. We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand. The first question we should ask is, What do we learn about God? After all, he is the main character.
Once we’ve gained some insight from the Scriptures, we should ask, How should I respond to God as a result? When we begin to understand who God is, we will recognize that our lives must change in response.