Listen, it’s LISTENING that God hears. It may seem convoluted but it’s not. God wants to hear His JOY from His Spirit inside of us returned to Him in JOY. If we praise, God hears praises and knows His people understand all He has done – on the big scale and little scale. If the people are weeping, there’s probably very good reason and God collects their tears, and there IS pain in the world, sorrow… And yet there is HOPE. Hope is in Him. The Spirit knows that not all people understand that God is in control. We can point to times He has guided us. We can teach the hope of forever. Imagine that day when we realize will be with Him forever – then realize that now – start living with that attitude and keep going day by day… Our HOPE is both seeing God work here and now and ultimately for forever… we know Jesus will be returning – a LIGHT out of the clouds… So we must teach to encourage and explain to keep HOPE.
When Nehemiah’s contemporaries rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem – day by day – brick by brick – they then welcomed back exiled Jewish families, to the city and Solomon restored Temple. They knew it ONLY was accomplished because God’s Hand was on them, therefore they ENCOURAGED the people !!! God waited and wanted them to listen. They had to teach and explain, so do we.
Walls completed, the people were assembled one Sabbath say and Ezra the priest was able to read Law from the book of Moses. And after reading, the knowledgable ones explained it to them, the people cried in repentance but their weeping was to be replaced by JOY. “…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the JOY of the LORD is your STRENGTH.”
This is a lesson for them and for us: they made it that far with God’s Hand – THEY FINISHED THE WALL – over 40,000 Jews returned. The Lord surely wanted to hear REJOICING, especially on the day He set aside for His people to be with Him. Us too – we made it this far – and our Kingdom has been rebuilt in Heaven… Also our Sunday plus everydays are set aside for remembering His Hand in our lives – knowing it is the best “thing” He can give us. Our strength can be realized from the Hand of God on our lives, and this helps us believe even more. There are TOUGH days, but our Lord IS even STRONGER. The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH because we have opportunity to look beyond our broken world and PRAISE Him.
And not just praising His Hand on us, but His whole self-sacrifice FOR us. Jesus was/IS fulfillment of the law by His sacrifice – Jesus was/IS fulfillement of the prophecies of the prophets with His coming into the world and being sacrificed and being raised again. Our Hope continues into His return. Our TRUE JOY is in remembering that He conquered death not just for Himself but for us, and ALL for God our Father bringing His children Home.
Nehemiah survived such opposition to rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem, even last ditch attempts to probably kill or defame him…. As they were finishing (see chapter 6), wow real threats and blackmail – but gratefully the attempts looked SO OBVIOUS that Nehemiah knew they were traps. Nehemiah knew it was better to walk in the Light and keep working.
The walls of Jerusalem had gates to OPEN in the daylight, not traps to close. That’s how we are to approach our devotion to the Lord. He has OPEN gates not closing traps. We can walk freely, but each night in the dark, come back into His Light. Come to His security over our lives. Sheep to our Shepherd. Security in sin’s defeat. A gaze to hold us and Hand to rescue us, just like Peter on the water… keep watching Him!
The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH. Rejoice in the Rebuilding like Nehemiah. Praise in the possibilities of each day by walking in Jesus’s Way
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
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 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.