Today I want to share the story of joy experienced in a season of restoration. The Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 8, tells the story of the Jewish people chosen by God to be a force of renewal, restoration, covenant life, joy, and love in a world swallowed up by evil. Unfortunately, during this time, society was experiencing child sacrifice, human violations, and slavery. God’s people were meant to bring freedom and exemplify God’s character. But because the influence of the world seduced them, they were punished by God and exiled to Babylon.
After being exiled for 50-plus years, they returned to the Promised Land. Once the temple was rebuilt and the city restored, Ezra, the priest, and Nehemiah, the governor, came to address the people. They began to read God’s Word, and as you can imagine after a long separation from the Torah, this emotional experience caused many to weep. But their leaders redirected them, saying, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. 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.”
Friend, the good news is this: When you hear and understand God’s words, confidently know that He has your back, and you can walk in pure joy. God’s Word assures us that He has the whole world in His hands. We can receive God’s joy which creates deep trust and lightheartedness.