An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 10 - Practical Truth - Page 125 of 277
as we understood it, met with many experiences parallel with those of
Nehemiah and Ezra.  There were those who 'laughed' and 'despised' (Neh.
2:19), and those who 'mocked' and reminded us of our 'feebleness' (Neh. 4:2),
and intimidation, if not reiterated 'ten times' (Neh. 4:12), was nevertheless
repeated.  We are never so susceptible as when the enemy appears conciliatory
and invites us to a 'conference' (Neh. 6:2), and we are peculiarly vulnerable
to the insidious attack of the 'open letter' (Neh. 6:5), beside having to
bear the charge of seeking to exercise lordship over the Lord's heritage
(Neh. 6:6,7).  This is the dark side of the picture, but neither Nehemiah,
Ezra nor ourselves would be true to fact and experience if we did not testify
to the bright and blessed side of the conflict too.
There were those who had recognized that the time had come and said,
'Let us rise and build' (Neh. 2:18), and there were those like the nobles of
the Tekoites, who, while not falling into line with their brethren,
nevertheless 'repaired another piece' (Neh. 3:27) and so helped forward the
work in unexpected ways.  Then there were those who 'gave unto the work' not
only in labour and prayer, but in kind (Neh. 7:70,71).  In either case, both
lines, whether of opposition or help, converge in Nehemiah chapter 8 in the
'Pulpit erected with a purpose' and the 'Opened Book', even as our own
experiences of 1943 converged in the opening of The Chapel of the Opened
'And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made
for the purpose ... and Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the
people' (Neh. 8:4,5).
The purpose of that pulpit was not to magnify Nehemiah the Tirshatha,
nor Ezra the Scribe.  Most certainly it was not erected to enable a priestly
cast to establish an ascendancy over the people, for its prime object was
expressed, in the words, 'Ezra opened the book'.
Let us consider three aspects of this theme that must be true of the
work now inaugurated, as it was true in the days of Israel's return from
The Opened Book must be read
'So they read in the book in the law of God Distinctly, and gave the
Sense, and caused them to Understand the reading' (Neh. 8:8).
To the Ethiopian riding in his chariot, Philip the evangelist put the
question, 'Understandest thou what thou readest?' (Acts 8:30).  To Timothy
Paul wrote, 'Till I come, give attendance to the reading' (1 Tim. 4:13), and
even our Saviour Who spake as never man spake, 'stood up for to read' (Luke
4:16).  It will therefore be the duty of all who minister in The Chapel of
the Opened Book to see that the reading of the Word finds a prominent place
in its services.  But reading, to be a service and not a soporific, must be
clear, for 'If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself
for battle?'  Reading therefore must be 'distinct', and this lowly feature of
public ministry will not be forgotten in the training of students in the days
to come.  Distinctness of enunciation, however, covers more than the emission
of the sounds of words; it also has a bearing upon the sense of the words
read.  We have heard Luke 24:25 so read as to make it seem that our Saviour
rebuked the disciples for being such fools as to believe all that the
prophets have spoken! or Romans 6:17 so read as to make the apostle thank God
that the Roman Christians were the servants of sin!