August 14, 2019 by directorfsm
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. 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.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:9-12 (ESV)
Some background for those of you who do not know the Book of Nehemiah. It is one of my favorites, as it epitomizes this ministries goals of restoration for individuals.
Briefly Nehemiah is a trusted servant in the courts of the Persian King. He hears of the squalor conditions of Jerusalem and petitions the king to go and restore it. He is met with resistance once there from the local ruling class but eventually succeeds in restoring the city walls.
We pick up the story here where for the first time the Law was read to the people (Nehemiah 8:1-8). The people hearing and clearing understanding the Law, apparently react (v.9) with mourning and tears, both for their sins of rebellion against God and one would imagine all the hardships they had been through.
Nehemiah and Ezra the Priest tell them this is not a time to morn, do not be grieved, a lesson for all of us. Our Christian lives will be (and should be if we are active for the Kingdom) filled with times of turmoil we have a choice mourn and grieve our situation or as Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people of Jerusalem do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. In other words we can lean on, count on and depend on the strength of our Lord to get us through those difficult times.
There are (hopefully) some obvious differences between the nation of Israel in the time of Nehemiah and Born Again Believers today. The Israelite’s had gotten themselves into their situation by consent and blatant disobedience to God’s Law whereas a true Christian does not blatantly live in disobedience to God’s Law. . The result was exile from their homeland for all but a remnant. What is in common however is the response to knowledge that our Lord is the great provider of strength for our daily walk in life, Nehemiah tells the people and us to (v.12) make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
If you understand that the Lord is our strength then you also understand that He is also our Joy.
Where Else Does the Bible Talk about the Lord’s Strength?
- “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:13
- “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29
- “The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked.” Proverbs 10:29
- “The LORD gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.” Psalm 28:8
- “The LORD is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Psalm 27:1
- “God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” 2Samuel 22:33
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
- “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, to that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10