The joy of the Lord!
Scripture reading for May 11th: Nehemiah 8:2-10:39
Nehemiah said, “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
After rebuilding the walls, Ezra and Nehemiah held a great church service. He brought out the book of the Law of Moses and began reading it to all who had gathered inside the walls. Ezra the priest opened the Book as all the people stood in reverence. (Nehemiah 8:4-5) Ezra praised the Lord and the people responded with “Amen! Amen!” and bowed in worship. As the Book was read, the people began to understand how they had failed to follow God’s word. This triggered emotions and conviction and many began to weep.
Why did Nehemiah tell the people not to grieve and weep before the Lord? Godly sorrow that leads to true change is commended in Scripture. (2nd Corinthians 7:8-11) Nehemiah actually sent the people away to enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and share with those who didn’t have any. He told them that the joy of the Lord would be their strength! (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
Joy always follows true understanding of the grace and mercy of God. Joy is the result of God’s mercy being revealed to us as a gift to be received by faith. As the people understood God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness for them, they could celebrate as people who were forgiven. The Book of the Law revealed this mercy and love of God. They could celebrate it’s restoration to their lives and to the lives of their children.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of God. (Galatians 5:22) New Testament believers can enjoy the Lord’s promise of joy as a fruit of abiding in Him and His word abiding in us. When we understand God’s word, the joy of the Lord becomes our strength! We have God’s law written on our hearts and the Spirit gives us understanding of God’s word. We can have this same joy for our strength, too! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13