Summary: In times of crisis, God's people remember the LORD their God and the glory of the LORD as revealed by His Works and His Word!
CELEBRATING THE GLORY OF THE LORD AS REVEALED BY HIS WORKS AND HIS WORD
Church Fellowships were popular during my teen years when we came to know the Lord intimately and desired to keep company with like-minded peers . . . focused on doing “all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Memories of those Sunday evening get-togethers will be cherished forever. We were “one in the bond of love”!
Within that fellowship of believers we developed a hunger for the Word . . . we heard the Word gladly . . . we learned to handle aright the Word . . . we were led to honor the Word by the way we actively sought to “hide” the Word in our hearts and put biblical principles into practice . . . we parted ways each Sunday evening with mixed feelings – always looking forward to coming together again soon, committed to the proposition that we would, in word and deed, heed the Word wherever we went and whoever we were with.
Our theme song reflected our joyous spirit which bound hearts together in love for Christ so strong that nothing could separate us:
“If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart. If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart. Your sins He’ll wash away, your night He’ll turn to day, your life He’ll make it over anew. If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart.” Even now, sixty-four years later . . .
We remember our Creator as we knew Him in the days of our youth, before days of trouble drew nigh - and we conclude our study of Nehemiah remembering a joyful celebration of the Works and Word of God – Nehemiah 8:9-12 . . .
Rebuilding the wall was complete. Restoring faith in God was going strong. Restructuring lives by The Book was in high gear. Thus, the time had now come for celebrating the glory of the Lord as revealed by His Works and His Word.
This celebration occurred at the time of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah – an eight-day festival of thanksgiving, like a church fellowship that lasted for eight days - during which they heard God’s Word read by Ezra and interpreted by their priests, while the people stood six hours a day, eight straight days.
On hearing the Word of God - then understanding it as explained by the Levites – God’s people became convicted of their wayward ways, so they repented.
Powerful is the Word! “Sharper than a double-edged sword”! We look to the Word for encouragement, yes, but also we look to the Word for correction. “Search me, O God, and know my thoughts . . . see if there be in me any sinful tendency that needs to be cleansed from my being.” Weeping is a means of cleansing!
There IS a time for weeping . . . But, there comes a time for celebration – when God’s people repent and turn from their “wicked ways” to do God’s Will.
Having prayed, “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” then having put “feet to our prayers” - to the extent that results become evident - let us celebrate!
Tears and confession have their place in the life of every believer, BUT “joy comes in the morning”! “Into every life some rain must fall but, back of the clouds, the sun is always shining.” “The JOY of the Lord is your strength!” How can that be? Does God know me and my situation?
The reality of our situation is known by our Father- “His eye is on the sparrow”- therefore, you know He sees you and your situation. It’s just that we cannot divorce the reality of our situation from the greater reality of our right standing before God - which gives us peace in the midst of the storms of life.
The “joy of the Lord” takes hold of us once we understand fully what the Lord has done for us – forgiven, cleansed, accepted us . . . is doing for us – guiding, comforting, taking us home where we “shall dwell in the House of the Lord”!
The folks of Nehemiah’s day were overcome with joy because The Lord and The Word had once again become central in their lives. The completion of the wall and their renewed understanding of the Word gave them a renewed sense of what had been missing - well-being, security, approval, freedom from worry.
With their renewal came a new awareness of their worth before God!
So, they were now ready to face their future in the spirit of joy and spiritual strength that come from knowing the Lord and doing His Will! And so are we!