NEHEMIAH 8:9-12: “And Nehemiah, who was the governor,a Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
10 Then he said to them, “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.”
11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12And 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.”
OBSERVATION: How do we view the Word of God? Is it a book of rules and commands that reveal our sinfulness and call us to a life that we never can attain? Or, is it a book that leads us into the fulness of life that God desires to give us? The answer is the latter. God’s Word is meant to be spirit and life. If that is true, then why do we so often respond to God’s Word like the children of Israel did when Ezra and the Levites read it to them?
I think it is because we misunderstand and confuse conviction with condemnation. Romans 8:1 is clear – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” Yet, there is conviction. Conviction is the inner call to repentance that is a natural response whenever that which is imperfect looks into that which is perfect. The Law of the Lord is perfect – converting the soul. God’s Word brings conviction because when we look into it we see our sinfulness and need. Yet, it is not meant to condemn us, but it is given to call us to run to the Lord for His Mercy and Grace. It is meant to produce godly sorrow which ushers us into life!
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (II Corinthians 7:9-11 NKJV)
Godly sorrow brings us to Jesus, the source of our life! The flip side of godly sorrow is JOY! When we turn to the Lord, He brings His forgiveness and cleansing to our lives. We are then given a capacity to hear and understand the full intent of His Word to us. We see that His Word is the pathway of life – through the Spirit. It is not something that we can attain to in our own strength, but it is something that He is working in us through the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells each one of us – “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11 NKJV)
So, like the Israelites who heard the Word of God – Lord, let me hear Your Word and enter into Your Joy! Today is not a day of mourning, it is a day to rejoice! As I run to You I see that Your arms are wide open and inviting me into Your presence, into Your love, into Your JOY! This is the source of my strength! Thank you for the conviction that comes to my heart and leads me from brokenness to healing, from bondage to freedom, and from sorrow to joy. May I respond to Your Word always with an open heart and may I long for Your Words of Life each and every morning! In Jesus Name!