Introduction: How do you feel when you have rented or purchased a new
home and you are all moved in? Exhausted? Happy? That is the mind set
for our study this week. God’s people have finished building the wall
and have moved into Jerusalem. They are back in their homeland and
their repaired city. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and
find out what happens next!

  1. The Reading

    1. Read Nehemiah 8:1. Whose idea is it to bring out the Book
      of the Law? (The Bible says that “the people” told Ezra to
      bring the Book of the Law.)

    2. Read Nehemiah 8:2 and Numbers 29:1. Why does Nehemiah give
      us the specific day of the reading? (It is the time of the
      Feast of Trumpets.)

      1. What did the Hebrews do at this feast? (They rested
        and they blew trumpets.)

      2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16,
        Revelation 8:6, and Revelation 11:15. Many Christians
        believe that the Old Testament Jewish Feasts point to
        later events in history. For example, Passover
        pointed to the coming sacrifice of Jesus. After
        reading these texts, what do you think the Feast of
        Trumpets foreshadows? (The Second Coming of Jesus.
        This is a feast which, obviously, has not been

      3. The Bible does not say a lot about the Feast of
        Trumpets. Let’s assume that the people thought that
        it was connected with a coming time of judgment. In
        this context, would their request to read the law
        make sense? (It is always helpful to know the
        standard for judgment when you are judged!)

    3. Read Nehemiah 8:3-6. What do the people do to prepare for
      the reading of the law? (They make sure everyone can see
      and hear. They praise and worship God. They stand.)

    4. Read Nehemiah 8:7-8. What do you think Ezra was reading?
      (I think the “Book of the Law” refers to the Pentateuch,
      the first five books of the Old Testament. An important
      part of the Pentateuch is the history that brought them to
      this place both spiritually and materially. Some of the
      law is what God commanded the people so that they would be
      blessed and give glory to Him.)

      1. Why is it important to have the law clarified? Why is
        instruction needed? Let’s look at that next.

  2. Instruction

    1. Read Acts 8:29-31. Do you agree with the assumption
      contained in the question that you cannot understand the
      Bible unless it is explained?

    2. Read Acts 8:32-34. Now that we see what the man in the
      chariot was reading, do you think this needs an
      explanation? (Philip knew that this was a prophecy about
      Jesus. The man in the chariot would not be able to piece
      together this prophecy and the facts of Jesus’ life and

      1. Note the actual question asked is more fundamental –
        is the prophet writing about himself?

    3. Read Acts 8:35. What does this teach us about studying the
      Bible? (Philip starts with the Bible (“Philip began with
      that very passage.”) Bringing together the experiences and
      understanding of others gives us a better picture of the
      Bible’s meaning. In addition to writing this lesson, I
      teach it. Sometimes, after hearing the class discussion, I
      wish we had the discussion before I finished writing the

    4. Let’s re-read Acts 8:29. What do you see in this text that
      is critical to Bible study? (The Holy Spirit arranged this
      meeting. The Holy Spirit is essential to sucessful Bible

    5. Is there a place for private Bible study? How would you
      compare it with studying with others? Do you need an

  3. Reaction

    1. Read Acts 8:36-38. What is the reaction of the man in the
      chariot to Philip’s explanation of the Bible prophecy
      about Jesus?

    2. Read Nehemiah 8:9. Why are the people weeping? Is this
      different than the reaction of the man in the chariot? (It
      seems logical that the people saw the difference between
      what the law commanded and what they had been doing. That
      made them sad. The man in the chariot also decided that he
      needed to make a change. Thus, their reactions are quite

    3. Read Nehemiah 8:10. Do you feel guilty about past sin? Are
      you sad about how your life has departed from God’s law?

      1. If you answered “yes,” is that how you should feel?
        (No! If we have confessed our sins (see Nehemiah 9:1-3), if we accept Jesus as our Substitute, then “the
        joy of the Lord is our strength.”)

    4. Read Nehemiah 8:11. Have you ever read that worship should
      not be a time of celebration? That we should be serious
      and sad because of our sins? What does this example tell
      us? (They were instructed that “this is a holy day. Do not

    5. Read Nehemiah 8:12. What should we be doing on Sabbath?
      What should we be doing when we recognize the seriousness
      of our sins and what Jesus has done? What should we do
      when we understand God’s will for our life?(We should
      “celebrate with great joy.” Friend, sin is a terrible
      thing. Sin will ruin your life and your witness. But Jesus
      came to rescue you from sin and to pay the penalty for
      your sin. It is as if you just received a pardon when you
      are awaiting your execution. Celebration is the right

  4. Feast of Tabernacles

    1. Read Nehemiah 8:13. Why do the people want to hear more of
      the law when they had such a negative reaction? (They want
      to know God’s will for their lives. What a great

      1. Do you desire to know more about God’s will for your

    2. Read Nehemiah 8:14-16. What is this new learning about
      temporary shelters? (Read Leviticus 23:39-42. This is
      called the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths.)

    3. Read Leviticus 23:43. What did this feast celebrate?
      (Their release from slavery in Egypt.)

      1. Think about the series of facts we have studied in
        this lesson. Are those listening to the Law of God in
        a similar situation as those freed slavery? (Yes!
        They realize what God has in mind for them, and they
        realize how they have departed from it. They now have
        the path to freedom. The path to a better life.)

      2. Is that how you view the law? Something that frees

      3. Have you ever thought “I’ll sin now, enjoy myself,
        and confess when I get to be old – so I can go to

        1. If so, what does that say about your attitude
          toward the law? (You have things completely
          reversed. The law gives you freedom from the
          slavery of sin.)

    4. Read Nehemiah 8:17-18. What is the mood of God’s people?
      (“Their joy was very great!”)

    5. Friend, do you want to have great joy? The formula we have
      studied in this lesson is first, learn God’s will for your
      life. Second, be convicted that you need to change. Third,
      rejoice over what God has done for you. Rejoice that you
      better understand His will for your life. Will you, by the
      power of the Holy Spirit, welcome this joy into your life?

  5. Next week: Our Forgiving God.