Nehemiah 8:9 (NASB) Then Nehemiah, who was the [e]governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Many of us reading today’s message falter at the prospect of making an honest personal inventory of our own lives. The rationalizations and excuses are endless for avoiding this step. The bottom line is this: we know that there is an enormous amount of sadness awaiting us, often when we take this personal inventory step. And we can fear the pain that facing the sadness will bring each one of us. How should we handle this concern?
The Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had lost touch with God. During the exile, they hadn’t been taught His laws; so naturally, they hadn’t practiced them either. After rebuilding the city walls and the temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law.
The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing, because their lives in no way measured up. The priests said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God,. Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9-10). I really love this passage and story in the Bible family of God!
That day marked the beginning of Sukkot or the Festival of Tabernacles, a required Jewish feast which celebrated their escape from bondage in Egypt and God’s care for them while they wandered in the wilderness. When we set out to face the pain and sadness of making a moral inventory, we will need the “joy of the Lord” to give us strength. This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to bring us out of bondage and to care for us as we pass through the sadness toward a new way of life.
Our joy in the Lord helps us to face the sadness within ourselves. In fact, the joy of the Lord helps us face each day with courage and strength that can only be supplied by the Lord. Family of God it’s all good now, just begin rejoicing in the Lord and have a great day!