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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: Read to the Heart
By Joanney Uthe


As the first streaks of light peeked over the horizon, I climbed the wooden platform that had been prepared for this day. My heart was heavy as I prayed for the people who would come to listen. I prayed that they would come. I prayed that they would be open to what was being read. I prayed that lives would be changed, that our nation would utilize this opportunity to start anew by turning back to the Lord our God.

I hoped the platform served to make me visible to all who gathered, not so that I would be the focus of their attention, but so that they could focus on the words being read. I was not alone on the platform: six men stood on my right and seven on my left. They were more than just moral support; they were partners in the ministry of the day. Others would help as well.

The crowd rose to their feet as I stepped forward and opened the Book of the Law. Seventy years had passed since our people had been forced to leave our home. Most of this remnant had never heard the Scriptures read, had only heard stories told by their elders. I silently prayed that they would heed God’s words, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) May we turn to You, Lord.

"Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” (Nehemiah 9:5b-6) The prayer I said aloud hide my silent prayer for strength and stamina to make it through the day’s reading. By my own power, I would not have been able to stand or to talk for that long.

From daybreak until noon I read aloud the Book of the Law. By God’s strength, I did not feel weak or tired throughout the entire reading. The people listened intently throughout the morning. When I finished with prayer, they lifted their hands and responded with “Amen! Amen!” They had heard God’s words, not mine, and bowed down to worship Him.

The Levites taught the people the Law, making sure all understood it. Many people were weeping, and Nehemiah, our governor, reminded us of the Psalmist’s words, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalom 51:17) God had broken the spirits of His people, they had turned their hearts back to Him. We instructed the people to "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."(Nehemiah 8:10)

The next day, the heads of each family gathered around me for more teaching of the Law. We read God’s command to build booths during the seventh month and the people went out and brought back branches and made booths in which to live. We had not celebrated the Festival of Booths like this since the days of Joshua. The people found great joy in their obedience to God.

All seven days of the Feast I read the Law to the men of the Remnant and on the eighth day we had an assembly. Later that month, the people gathered together and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. God’s people humbled themselves, prayed, sought God’s face and turned from their wicked ways. I knew from His promises that God would now heal our land.

I know that these events will go down in the history of our nation. It is my desire that when our children and grandchildren read the account of this momentous time, they see not Ezra, but God as the center of attention. I was only the vessel He used to do read the Law to His people.

All Scripture is NIV. Story based on Nehemiah 8

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This article has been read 508 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon04/24/10
WOW!!! What a marvelous story. Made me want to shout. You did a wonderful job of staying on point. Thank you and God bless you. Keep writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/25/10
This is an excellent retelling of this story. You managed, truly, to show the heart of the reader.
Angela King04/25/10
I love to study the Old Testament and Ezra is a favorite! Nice work!
Gerald Shuler 04/25/10
I love this kind of retelling of the Bible. It brings the characters to life for modern readers.

Personally, I think your writing hit the mark very well.
Catrina Bradley 04/25/10
Loved this re-enactment of an important old-testament story. The scripture references distracted me from the flow of the action, but I also don't want to see the Word go un-referenced. Maybe your footnote could include specific chapters & verses? This event is perfect for the topic - well done on bringing OT scripture to life and to light, just as Ezra did.
Carol Penhorwood 04/28/10
Very creative. What an example that is needed in our country today!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/10
This is a great take on the topic.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 9 of your level. Good job!
Gregory Kane05/11/10
A good rendering of a moving Bible story. Well done. Did you see the other version in Masters?
FYI more than 70 years had elapsed by the time Ezra mounted his platform. It was about 70 years from the initial stage of the exile (which took Daniel into captivity) up untl Cyrus' decree in 536BC and the return from exile. Ezra came along some time later, holding his revival during Nehemiah's governorship in around 445BC.