NEHEMIAH 8:9: “And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and 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 or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: How do I view the Bible, the Word of God? Do I view it as a book of rules and judgments – or do I view it as a book of life? How we view God’s Word is determined by how we view God’s Grace. If I have met the Grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ, I view the Word of God as life. If I have not met the Grace of God through the person of Jesus Christ, I view the Word of God as limiting, judging, and ultimately a book of death. How can the same book be viewed so differently?
When the Israelites had completed the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah called all the people together, and Ezra the Scribe read to them from the Book of the Covenant (Law). As Ezra read from the Law, the other Levites assisted him in helping the people understand the reading of God’s Word. When the people heard it they were brought to the realization that they had grievously disobeyed the Covenant and were guilty before God. This caused them to weep, and no doubt to stand before the Lord in great fear. They had misunderstood the purpose of the Word of God.
There is a vast difference between conviction and condemnation. Condemnation is when one is placed under a final sentence with no way out. You have been tried, found guilty, and sentenced without the possibility of reprieve. However, conviction is the working of godly sorrow in our lives. This godly sorrow, like condemnation, shows us that we are guilty – but it also points us to a Savior. Godly sorrow leads us to repentance and restoration. Godly sorrow leads us to Jesus Christ! This is why Nehemiah exhorted the Israelites on this momentous day –
NEHEMIAH 8:10: “Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Paul reiterates this truth when he proclaims – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10 ESV)
Godly sorrow, a true understanding of the Word of God, leads us to repentance, which leads to salvation, which leads to life, which ultimately leads us to JOY! Joy is not “happiness”. Happiness is an emotion that is subject to the ever changing wind of our experience. Joy is really not a human emotion at all. It is the “Joy of the Lord”! The inner working of God’s Joy in our lives sustains us through all the storms of life and always brings us into safe harbor. The true purpose of the Word of God is to lead us to Life and the discovery of true Joy! The true purpose of the Word of God is to lead us to Jesus!
Lord, as I open Your Word today – let me see Jesus! Let me see His Grace and Mercy which He freely extends to all who call upon His Name. Let me run to Your Word, surrender to Your Word, and abide in Your Word. Fill me today with the true “Joy of the Lord”! Fill me today with “Jesus” through Your Holy Spirit! In Jesus Name!