Pondering the Word – Nehemiah 8:10

PonderingtheWordThe last part of Nehemiah 8:10 says this, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This has been one of my favorite verses in Scripture for a long time. Perhaps you have even noticed that it is on the banner picture of this blog. As I read it again this week in its context of Nehemiah 8 I began pondering this question: Where does this joy come from that gives us the kind of strength we need to deal with all that life throws at us?

2 passages that help with the answer. The first is Nehemiah 8:7-10…

7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there.
8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
In this first passage we see that the Israelites’ hearts had been pierced by the Word of God. As the Scripture was read they wept and they grieved as they realized how far short they had fallen from living out the life-energizing dictates of the Word. They recognized just how disobedient they had been and they began to understand how critical it was to know and understand and live out what the Bible says. Notice verse 12…
12Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
The 2nd passage is John 15:9-11…
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
This passage reiterates what Nehemiah says… obedience to the Word enables us to experience the freshness of God’s love for us and to find joy – a complete and abiding joy.
One of the reasons that so many “Christians” seem so miserable is because of disobedience. The world has so influenced the church that often believers think they are followers of God when they are just tag-a-longs. We, the church, needs to hear God’s Word as if it were the first time – like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day – and allow our hearts to be pierced and broken and then renewed and invigorated by “the joy of the Lord.”

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