Thursday, February 7, 2008

Words of Encouragement

Then Nehemiah, who was the 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. 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." So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words, which had been made known to them. – Nehemiah 8:10-12

Count it all joy. This Day is Holy. The people were gathered together to hear the word of the Lord. It was read before the people and made plain, so that they could understand it. When the people heard the words and understood, they weep. They were instructed, however not to weep because this day was holy unto the Lord.

The people were told to go and to eat and to send to those that had nothing prepared. They were told to stop their weeping and to stop grieving, because the joy of the Lord was their strength. It would seem strange for them to be told not to weep or to be sorry for realizing their sinfulness and that they were not keeping the laws of God.

However, I believe that what the instruction is telling the people is not so much to make them look lightly at their sins, but to rejoice in the fact that God is going to strengthen them so that they can follow him. This is a good understand that we should have. When someone recognizes their sinfulness at that point they will be sorry and weep at their disobedience to God. But as quickly as we are broken from the realization of our sinful condition, God’s Spirit then encourages us that we are no longer condemned when we repent (forgiveness is granted immediately at the time we seek it). When we accept Jesus as our savior, scripture says there is now no more condemnation for those that are in Christ. So like the children of Israel, we can begin to find strengthen in God because he is now our joy, which we find true pleasure in. The day we come to the Lord and accept him, listen to him, learn of him is a Holy Day and we can rejoice in our fellowship with him.

I pray for us today that we would recognize that everyday should be holy unto God. Let us find the strength of God, even when we recognize our lack of obedience to God’s word. When we receive understanding, let us repent, and turn quickly to following after that which we now know. Then let the joy of the Lord strengthen you to carry out that which he instructs.