The Way Of Health
A daily devotion for August 17th
13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. 14 They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: "Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths"-as it is written.
16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.
18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.
They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. (Nehemiah 8:14)
The way of health is dramatically demonstrated for us in the closing verses of this chapter. God had anticipated the needs of these people. Centuries before, He had provided a most remarkable visual aid to remind them of the truth that would keep them from further destruction. This is the Feast of Tabernacles, a reminder that they were called as a people out of Egypt. Their departure was sudden and precipitous. They were not even to sit down when they ate the Passover meal. They had to eat it standing, with their staffs in their hands, dressed in traveling clothes, ready to leave. They went out at a word of command and left Egypt in one night. When they got into the desert, one day's journey out, and night fell, where were they to find shelter? Moses had been told by God that they were to collect boughs and tree limbs and build booths for shelter. Then God ordained that they were to do this once every year. Even though later they had homes to dwell in, they were to build these booths and live in them for seven days. This was to teach them that they were always pilgrims and strangers on the earth. This world was not their home. All the great blessings of life would not necessarily be found in this present time but were waiting for them in glory. Therefore, they did not need to be distressed if they did not have everything that those around them were trying to get in this life.
That is the truth that will deliver us from the pressures of the times. We must hold things lightly. We must not think that houses, cars, money, and material gain are all that important. Even if we lack these things, the great treasures of our life remain untouched. To strive constantly to gain what everyone else has is a mistake. God teaches us to hold these things lightly. We must never forget that we are in the world but not of it. We are never to settle down here for good. I love the way C. S. Lewis has put it:
Our kind heavenly Father has provided many wonderful inns for us along our journey, but he takes special care to see that we never mistake any of them for home. We are pilgrims and strangers, passing through this world. We are involved in it, deeply sometimes, but we are never to see ourselves as a part of it.
What will enable us to remember that? Verse 18 gives us the answer. Every day they read the Scripture. Every day they saturated themselves in the thinking of God. That is what makes for realism: When you think like God thinks, you are thinking realistically. You are beginning to see yourself the way you really are. You are seeing your children, your home, and your nation the way they really are. For the first time you are able to divest yourself of the illusions and delusions of a mistaken, confused world. You are beginning to work toward wholeness, healing, and strengthening of the things that abide.
What a wonderful picture this is, Lord, of the fact that I am a stranger on this earth. Far too often I have lived as if this were my home. Renew my mind with Your truth that there is so much more to live for than what this world offers.
Life Application: Are we owned by our earthly possessions? Are we learning to hold them lightly? How can we recognize the unhealthy delusions of a mistaken and confused world?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.