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, 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." – Nehemiah 8v14-15
In the New Testament James reminds us of the important truth that we are to be doers of the word, and not only hearers. If we only hear the word of God without doing it then we are only deceiving ourselves. We know that lesson – it is never enough to just hear God’s word.
Here in the story of the rebuilding of the temple and the walls we find out that James is not expressing a new idea, but something that God’s people should have known all along. We read yesterday how all the people rejoiced when they heard the word of God. They had the right response. They fell down and worshipped in awe and reverence of God’s word.
They truth is though that anyone can do that much. Anyone can go to a worship service and go along with everyone else. Anyone can go and hear the word of God and rejoice in its teaching. Anyone can be and do and act right in church.
But the test comes after we leave. How do we apply God’s word when we go home? These folks here showed us how we should respond. They realised that they were not observing some of the rituals that God laid out in His word. That would only make sense because they had been gone for a long time; a lot of this stuff would have fallen away.
So what did they do when they found out what they had been neglecting what they should be doing? The next verse tells us that they went out and did what they were supposed to do. They were doers of the word, and not hearers only.
They rejoiced at hearing the word of God. But they did what they were supposed to do. They followed through and did it.