Monday, October 21, 2013

Why read? (Luke 4:15)

And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:15 NASB)

The synagogue was the center of local Jewish life. It was the place of assembly for prayer and study. Ezra (Nehemiah 8) had instituted regular reading of the Torah and that pattern continues today. There was a schedule of reading so that the entire Torah would be read aloud every year (some groups use a three-year rotation now). Any adult male could be invited to read the Torah. As I understand it, this was more than reading. It was reading with style - a kind of melodic chant or singing, so some men would be more adept than others. I would expect that Jesus, being The Word, would have been particularly adept and frequently chosen as reader. 

After the Torah reading, someone would give what we call a sermon. They would teach from the passage that had been read. Because they were teaching from the words of Moses, they sat in the Moses seat (a seat of honor) as they spoke. 

Why all this Torah reading? Israel had been taken captive and into exile as discipline for their sin. When the Babylonian exiles returned to Jerusalem, they never wanted to go into exile again. They wanted to ensure their own obedience, and requested that Ezra, the scribe, read the Torah aloud to them. After the reading, the Levites explained it to them. 

That first day, the people were so moved by the Word of God that they wept at the reading of it. All the people wept. I can't even imagine it. Everyone in "church" was so moved that they wept. Wow!  These people, at least for that time, were so sick of the consequences for their sin that they never wanted to disobey again. 

Oh what a difference it would make if we truly understood the price we have paid for our sin! It would break our hearts and ensure our obedience. It would drive us to the Word of God. 

Pray today for a glimpse of the price our sin has cost us and for our loved ones to have a sobering understand of what their life choices will cost them in the end. Pray for a "wake-up call" that propels them to Jesus.