|Posted on May 2, 2020 at 8:00 AM|
In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, there is a day of celebration documented. The year is about 430 BC, and the people of Judah had returned from exile in Babylonia to rebuild the temple under God’s instruction and direction.
The scene opens as everyone, right down to the women and children, gather together to spend the day listening as Ezra begins reading the law of Moses to the people. He starts out by praising God for the reunion, and for the work that is about to be done.
Hour after hour people stand listening to him read the “Revelation of God,” as the Message Bible translates the title. Nehemiah, the governor was there, along with scholars, ministers, priests, and everyday citizens. The people were so moved by the laws they had broken they began weeping and wailing, but Ezra hushed them saying:
“Don’t cry on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God – it is a time to celebrate with a hearty meal and to send presents to those in need, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. You must not be dejected and sad!” Nehemiah 8:10 & 11
We are very much like our ancestors. In spite of the blessings in our lives, and on the cusp of victory, we can find a reason to mourn. If we spend too much time looking back at all the things we should have done, we can miss the joy of the triumph.
But also like them – we have a day of celebration coming. We may not have a specific date to the end of the enforced isolation, or a solid vaccination for the virus that is sweeping our world, but we have the same promise that they did. The joy of the Lord is our strength!
Verse 12 says “So the people went away to eat a festive meal and to send presents; it was a time of great and joyful celebration because they could hear and understand God’s words.” That word “understand,” when translated means to discern, perceive, grasp, consider, regard; be perceptive, have insight. It comes from the word bin, and is derived from the noun binah, meaning “understand.” In this case, we know that spiritual revival did not come until the people clearly understood the text that had been shared [Strong’s #995].
Whatever this historic time means, and I know there are many schools of thought, one thing is certain. God is giving us an opportunity for new understanding. We have time to spend in His Word, in prayer, learning to understand His nature. We have time with our families to read the Word out loud to them, to teach those who may not yet grasp the will and ways of God. And we have the chance to learn from our mistakes and create a plan to move forward in strength and unity. And we have an ability to reach out in kindness to those around us who don’t share our good fortune, either materially or spiritually.
There has been a hush over the world these past five weeks. We’re already seeing changes and healing in the physical environment as a result of less traffic and pollution. While living shoulder to shoulder may be getting on our last nerve, we are also learning things about our families we may never have understood. And now we have the chance to fill the silence that blankets the earth with weeping or with praise.
The book of Nehemiah teaches us that the joy of the Lord is a powerful source of strength. When we raise our voices in worship to the Father, we are creating a shelter over our families, our communities, our countries and our world. When we choose to be the voice that shouts praises, and not dissension, we are truly extending the hands of God to those who don’t yet understand His goodness. And we have the opportunity to usher in the spiritual revival that this world desperately needs.
The time is coming when our feasting will begin. For most of us it will likely be called a potluck and worship service, but a celebration nevertheless. In the meantime, let’s start a tidal wave of joyous sound. When we begin to worship with our mouths, the heavens will hear and respond.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells us that “if My people (that’s you and me) who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It’s time to raise our voices and let God know that we get it. We don’t do that in wailing, mourning, or gnashing of teeth – but in celebration and joy for the victory that is about to be ours.
Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne!