“All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand, and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.” Nehemiah 8:1-3
After reconstructing the walls of the city, the people gathered safely inside those rebuilt walls to hear the word of God read from the book of the law – God’s Word, given to Moses. Renewal/re-building starts by adding on to an existing foundation. The reconstructed walls were built on top of the foundation of the original walls. Renewal of the people’s hearts starts with a reading of the word of God – the basis of the covenant between God and His people. The people broke the promises of the covenant not God, so, re-establishing that covenant starts by building upon the foundation of the words of the covenant. It is not a re-writing of the covenant. We can’t change the covenant to suit our sin, make our sin fit into God’s design for relationship. Just as the people couldn’t rebuild the walls by starting on a new foundation we can’t renew our relationship with God by attempting to re-write God’s law. Micah 6:8 sums up the Torah: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” And Jesus sums up the entirety of the Law of God by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind an and strength and your neighbor as yourself”, by combining two ancient scriptures, Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 18:18. Much later Paul says, “They show that what is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness.” The foundation of God’s Word is written on our hearts; our individual consciences bear witness to having a solid original foundation or one built by humanness. O God, that I would read your Word clearly, allow your commands to stand and not reinterpret for myself in an attempt to make your word align with my sin. But that I would establish my life on the foundation that you laid!