Daily Word

A Holy Day  |  Nehemiah 8:9-12 (NASB)

9 Then 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 were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.

Nehemiah 8:9-12 (NASB)

A time for mourning?

The Jews had just heard the law read to them (many probably for the first time) and they were convicted of their guilt. They started to repent and cry. Was this a time for mourning? “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every matter under heaven—” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB)” No, mourning would come later. Now is time for rejoicing.

No! For rejoicing

Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites instructed them that this is not the time to mourn, but time to rejoice. Today is a holy day. It was the feast of booths, “a time of joyous [7-day] celebration as the Israelites celebrated God’s continued provision for them in the current harvest and remembered His provision and protection during the 40 years in the wilderness.” (gotquestions.org) Here is more about the feast. The time would come for mourning.

A Holy Day

I’m not sure about you but when I think of “holy day”, my background leads me to think of mourning, contritness, solumnity, etc. not celebration. Oftentimes that is true. The Day of Atonement is that type of day. But today, this festival, is a holy day that is a time of celebration and giving of thanks. They wanted to make sure the congregation understood so it was repeated three times.

The joy of the Lord

But how, after hearing the Law read and being convicted of their sin and sensing the need to repent and mourn, could they have strength to celebrate and worship the Lord? Here’s the answer: “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

Of course that applies to us as well. When we need to do something for which we lack strength, the joy that comes from the Lord, of really knowing Him, gives strength.

Image from Pxfuel.com

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