And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:5–6, ESV)

An extraordinary scene of devotion and worship.

The people request that Ezra bring the Book of the Law of Moses and read to them.  It’s important to remember that the Word of God was not accessible to the average Hebrew at this time.  Copies were few and far between and study of them was limited to only a select few, everyone else was too busy with life to be able to study and read the Torah.

Imagine the scene, Ezra opens the book and all the people stand to hear the Word of God read.  Ezra blesses “the Lord, the great God,” and the people answer back with the Hebrew words “amen.”  It’s a word that is used when the one(s) who speak it express the truth of an affirmation.  They are, in other words, echoing back to Ezra that God is indeed the great God.

Then everyone, Ezra, Nehemiah, and all those present, bow their heads and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground.  This was a very common form of worship and emphasized humility and dependence.

To me this seems like a little slice of what we will experience in heaven when all of the people of God, from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, gather to express verbally together that God is indeed the great God, and then every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

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