Ezra gathered with the people on the first day of the seventh month (The Feast of Trumpets) and read the Law of God to them from morning till midday and the result was all the people began to weep. (See Nehemiah 8:1-9) Ezra said to the people in Nehemiah 8:10, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." It’s true that we need the fear of the LORD in our life to go on to live holy, but we also need the “joy of the LORD” to have strength. Joy comes from the LORD, but we should realize the joy of the LORD is more than just an emotion God gives. In the joy of the LORD we find our joy in Him. It’s when “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3), and we delight to do His will (Psalm 40:8), because “his love is better than wine” (Song of Sol. 1:2). Nehemiah 8:12 says, “all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” The people understood they needed the joy of the LORD; they “rejoiced greatly” in the goodness of God.
During the feast of Tabernacles the whole assembly “made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness” (Nehemiah 8:17). People don’t do God’s Word for one reason or another, but all those reasons are lame. God’s Word, and His ways, were given for our benefit, and we will find “great gladness” as we trust His ways and walk in them.
We read in chapter 9 how after the Feasts of the seventh month were over, the people gathered to hear God’s word, fast, confess their sin, worship, and to renew a covenant with the LORD. The people feared the LORD, but now it was much more than fear: they found their joy in the LORD and desired to live in His ways.
I love their words at the end of Nehemiah 10:39: “we will not neglect the house of our God.” They recognized how they and their ancestors had been negligent and they made a decision not to let that happen again.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan