The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

September 9, 2013

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

This key verse was spoken in an interesting setting. A remnant of the children of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem was in ruin with its walls torn down. Under the leadership that God raised up through such great men as Ezra and Nehemiah the people were organized and the walls of the city were rebuilt through adversity and opposition of surrounding peoples. Now the city, walls and temple of Jerusalem were in ruin because God had brought judgement upon Israel for their sin and rebellion against God. After seventy years of captivity and exile from their country the people have been allowed to return and begin again to pick up the pieces and rebuild their city. When we come to the point where this verse is given we find the walls have been rebuilt and the gates have been hung. The work on the walls is done and all the people have gathered in Jerusalem to hear the Law of Moses read and explained to them. From early morning till noon the people listened attentively as the Word was read and explained to them. The people began to weep, for the verse prior reads, “And Nehemiah, which [is] the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [is] holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” Then, in our key verse, the people are exhorted and encouraged, ” Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Through our lives we are pretty much follow the same pattern as the Israelites of old who tend to go through many cycles of God’s goodness and blessing, then the people would forget and eventually turn from God to pursue sin. God would lovingly and patiently warn them, they would stubbornly and rebelliously ignore Him until the consequences of their sin and unwillingness to repent would bring judgement upon them. Under the hand of judgement the people would repent, turn from sin, and cry out to God. God in His loving mercy and kindness would hear them, restore and again bless them. Eventually the cycle would repeat itself. Have our personal lives been so different? This event takes place at a time the people have just returned from the judgement of God through their exile to Babylon. God has dealt with them even further through Nehemiah and others. They have labored to build up again not only the physical walls, but the spiritual walls of their walk with God. They learned in a practical way to put on the whole armor of God so that they no longer have to fear or submit to the surrounding threats of the enemy. Now as they sat and really heard the Word of God, just as we must sit and really, from a hungry and contrite heart, hear the God’s Word, it breaks our heart, because we realize how much we have grieved the heart of God through our life and our actions. We, like the people of that day, become truly broken and repentant as we are convicted by God’s Word. The Spirit of the Lord that day was not there to bring condemnation, or rebuke. The Spirit of the Lord, that day, was to make glad. We find that when we really come through a place where we have acknowledged and repented of sin in our lives then there comes a day of true joy. We feel the freshness and forgiveness of God’s cleansing. We often will weep for joy at God’s incomprehensible goodness, patience and love toward us in that He still loves us and embraces us back into His fellowship. May there be a day, as we have come through that place of repentance and restoration of right fellowship, that we have a holy day, a day when God dries our tears and blesses us. Let there be a day when we eat of the fat of His blessing and drink the sweetness of His love and mercy. As we are blessed in His goodness, He exhorts us to go our way and make our blessing in Him a blessing to those that have not. We become the portions for whom no portions has been prepared. Our joy is our strength to live, with renewed commitment, a life that is holy unto Him. It is not a day to be sorry, but a day for joy, as we experience God’s renewed presence and blessing, “For the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Blessings,
kent

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