The book of Nehemiah opened with Nehemiah finding out that the wall in Jerusalem was completely destroyed and that the people were defenseless. Nehemiah moves to Jerusalem and began a rebuilding project. He and the builders faced numerous significant challenges and enemies, but by chapter 7 the wall is completed. It is significant that when they completed the wall that the enemies of Jerusalem “perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:16).”

Now that the wall was built it was time for Nehemiah, and his fellow leader, Ezra, to begin to rebuild the people’s knowledge of God and His covenant. They began this building by reading the scriptures to the people. You will remember that the Book of the Law of Moses is made up of the first five books of the Bible.

Imagine hearing this history and promise for the first time. Perhaps, for some of you this is the case. Are you amazed as are the people in today’s reading? I do hope that BibleTogether has helped to “give the sense so that the people understand the reading (Nehemiah 8:8).” And I do hope that your time getting to know this most amazing of stories has led you to worship the Lord in humility and joy.

Holy Celebration

I find it very intersting that when Nehemiah and Ezra point out that the day is “holy to teh LORD your God,” that they quickly call the people to celebrate the Lord. Holiness creates not only reverence, but also celebration.

… the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Is that really true?

Consider the ways that we try to entertain ourselves. How often is the entertainment simply a way to be distracted from the cares and stresses of this world. It is merely passing time while feeling less pain. Entertainment has a numbing effect.

Now consider the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is a response to having looked at the giver of life in the face. The joy of the Lord is invigorating; it gives life rather than simply passing through it. It looks life full in the face and takes it all in. True celebration eats the fat and drinks the wine; it takes it all in rather than passing it all over just to escape it all.

Rejoicing in the joy of the Lord can leave you both exhausted and full. Mere entertainment, the passing of time, leaves you slightly rested, but closer to dead.

Now consider how often we choose escapist entertainment over encountering God in His Word or encountering the community of His people.

I am so glad you have chosen to read the Bible with us here at BibleTogether. It is my prayer that your time here will ultimately leave you strengthed with the joy of the Lord.