Select: First Reading Second Reading Bible Background

First Reading: Nehemiah Chapter 8 and 9

Nehemiah 8

8:1 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
4 So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.
Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people,"This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.
13 The Feast of Tabernacles
(cf. Lev 23:33-43)

Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written."
16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. 18 Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Nehemiah 9

9:1 The People Confess Their Sins

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. 2 Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.
4 Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God. 5 And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said:
"Stand up and bless the LORD your GodForever and ever!
"Blessed be Your glorious name,Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the LORD;You have made heaven,The heaven of heavens, with all their host,The earth and everything on it,The seas and all that is in them,And You preserve them all.The host of heaven worships You.
7 "You are the LORD God,Who chose Abram,And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You,And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites,The Hittites, the Amorites,The Perizzites, the Jebusites,And the Girgashites — To give it to his descendants.You have performed Your words,For You are righteous.
9 "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,And heard their cry by the Red Sea. 10 You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,Against all his servants,And against all the people of his land.For You knew that they acted proudly against them.So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 11 And You divided the sea before them,So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land;And their persecutors You threw into the deep,As a stone into the mighty waters. 12 Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar,And by night with a pillar of fire,To give them light on the road Which they should travel.
13 "You came down also on Mount Sinai,And spoke with them from heaven,And gave them just ordinances and true laws,Good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws,By the hand of Moses Your servant. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst,And told them to go in to possess the land Which You had sworn to give them.
16 "But they and our fathers acted proudly,Hardened their necks,And did not heed Your commandments. 17 They refused to obey,And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them.But they hardened their necks,And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage.But You are God,Ready to pardon,Gracious and merciful,Slow to anger,Abundant in kindness,And did not forsake them.
18 "Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,And said, 'This is your god That brought you up out of Egypt,'And worked great provocations, 19 Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness.The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day,To lead them on the road;Nor the pillar of fire by night,To show them light,And the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,And gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;They lacked nothing;Their clothes did not wear out And their feet did not swell.
22 "Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,And divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon,The land of the king of Heshbon,And the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,And brought them into the land Which You had told their fathers To go in and possess. 24 So the people went in And possessed the land;You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land,The Canaanites,And gave them into their hands,With their kings And the people of the land,That they might do with them as they wished. 25 And they took strong cities and a rich land,And possessed houses full of all goods,Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,And fruit trees in abundance.So they ate and were filled and grew fat,And delighted themselves in Your great goodness.
26 "Nevertheless they were disobedient And rebelled against You,Cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets, who testified against them To turn them to Yourself;And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,Who oppressed them;And in the time of their trouble,When they cried to You,You heard from heaven;And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them From the hand of their enemies.
28 "But after they had rest,They again did evil before You.Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies,So that they had dominion over them;Yet when they returned and cried out to You,You heard from heaven;And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, 29 And testified against them,That You might bring them back to Your law.Yet they acted proudly,And did not heed Your commandments,But sinned against Your judgments,'Which if a man does, he shall live by them.' And they shrugged their shoulders,Stiffened their necks,And would not hear. 30 Yet for many years You had patience with them,And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets.Yet they would not listen;Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them;For You are God, gracious and merciful.
32 "Now therefore, our God,The great, the mighty, and awesome God,Who keeps covenant and mercy:Do not let all the trouble seem small before You That has come upon us,Our kings and our princes,Our priests and our prophets,Our fathers and on all Your people,From the days of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 However You are just in all that has befallen us;For You have dealt faithfully,But we have done wickedly. 34 Neither our kings nor our princes,Our priests nor our fathers,Have kept Your law,Nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies,With which You testified against them. 35 For they have not served You in their kingdom,Or in the many good things that You gave them,Or in the large and rich land which You set before them;Nor did they turn from their wicked works.
36 "Here we are, servants today!And the land that You gave to our fathers,To eat its fruit and its bounty,Here we are, servants in it! 37 And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us,Because of our sins;Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle At their pleasure;And we are in great distress.
38 "And because of all this,We make a sure covenant and write it;Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it."

Second Reading: 1 John Chapter 5

1 John 5

5:1 Obedience by Faith

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 The Certainty of God's Witness

This is He who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
14 Confidence and Compassion in Prayer

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.
18 Knowing the True — Rejecting the False

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Bible Background



The magnificent temple built by Solomon in 960 B.C. was destroyed almost 400 years later in 586 B.C. by the invading Babylonians. In 536 B.C. a temple was begun to replace Solomon's Temple. It was not completed until 516 B.C., 70 years after the destruction of the first. We don't have details of the construction of this temple but Ezra 3:12 says that the older priests who remembered Solomon's Temple wept aloud when they saw the foundations of the new one. It is not clear whether they wept from joy that the Temple was being rebuilt or from sorrow that it did not compare to the first. The time of the return of the captives from Babylon would not have been a prosperous time for the Jews, so it is likely that this second temple did not compare with the magnificence of the first. Although the rebuilding of the temple is recorded in the book of Ezra, it became known as Zerubbabel's Temple since Zerubbabel, the priest, was the primary organizer of the building work. This Temple begun by Zerubbabel never suffered hostile destruction as did Solomon's Temple but gradually fell into disrepair and was replaced in 20 B.C. by Herod's Temple.


Select: First Reading Second Reading Bible Background