What do you think about the Bible Class in your ecclesia? Are you worried because a lot of your brethren and sisters don't go? Do you go? Do you excuse yourself by saying that you feel you don't get much out of it, or you just haven't time?
Just consider one of the biggest Bible Classes ever held. It was in the open air. "All the people gathered themselves together as one man" into a large square in the city, "men, women and all that could hear with understanding." The leader went up on to a platform, and when the people saw him "open the book", they all stood up; and when he offered prayer to "the Lord, the great God", they all responded, "Amen, Amen", and bowed their heads in worship. Then the leader read to them out of the Word of God; in fact he read "from early morning until midday"(!). With his assistants he "caused the people to understand" and brought out the sense of what was being read.
There was an astonishing result: all the people wept when they heard the words of God! But the leader said, Do not mourn or weep. Go and rejoice in your fellowship together, for this day is holy unto the Lord. Do not be grieved, for "the joy of the Lord is your strength". Then all the people went away and rejoiced together, "because they had understood the words".
All that happened a long time ago, when the exiles came back from Babylon to a Jerusalem still in ruins. They had rebuilt the wall and now they came together to hear Ezra read from the law of God (Nehemiah 8:1-12), But note how caught up they were:
- The whole community came together.
- When the Word of God was opened, they all worshipped.
- The reading was with explanations so that all could understand.
- They must have listened for 5-6 hours!
- When they understood what God had been saying in His Word about righteousness and sin, they all wept.
- Ezra and his Levite helpers saw this as a good reaction. But they said, Go rather and rejoice in your fellowship today unto the Lord, for "delight in the Lord is a strong refuge" (that's what his words really mean).
- What a contrast with the frequently casual and apathetic atmosphere of our poorly attended Bible Classes!
- How rarely we can get "the whole ecclesia" together.
- How different sometimes is our attitude to the Word of God—and we have all the treasures of the New Testament as well!
- How impatient some of us get if the speaker goes on longer than we think he should. As for 5-6 hours...!
- How rarely does our study of Scripture lead us to deep feelings and to repentance.
- How little do we feel that "delight in the Lord is a strong refuge".