by Christopher Harbin

Understanding The Word
Christopher B. Harbin
Nehemiah 8:1-12

Communication is a difficult thing. We are often getting ourselves in trouble over faulty communication. We often concern ourselves with another's failure to communicate, but we just as easily forget that communication is a two way street. I cannot communicate with you on my own, and you cannot communicate with me on your own. Communication requires both of us to determine to come together for understanding and communication. More often, however, what we get is that each one of us hears what we expect to hear, without ever getting to a deeper level of understanding what each other is really attempting to communicate. In the process, we never truly grasp and understand what each other really wants to share.

Such has been the reality of humanity over the course of human history. We have failed at communication much more often than we have excelled at it. Some Native Americans understood that good communication requires work. They developed a strategy whereby one party expressed their concerns, then both parties waited three days for the other party to respond. The process kept emotions at bay and allowed time for reflection and focus on understanding one another on a deeper level. Perhaps there is something there we might appropriate to our understanding of God and God's message for our lives. It may take us time to grapple with God's word until we actually understand what God really wants to say. Otherwise, we may simply hear what we expect to hear.

Upon the completion of the Jerusalem wall, the people turned to Yahweh, seeking to understand what God desired of them. A platform was built and Ezra stood on it to read from the Torah to the whole population. This was no half-way enterprise. There had been forethought behind it. The platform was built, the people were gathered, certain Levites were appointed and on hand to assist with explaining the text. It may well have been the case that these Le ...

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