A teaching by Rev. Barbara Williams, President of the Ministry of the Watchman International
Week of June 27-July 1, 2022
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, 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.
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.”
So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”
Ezra the scribe and Nehemiah the Tirshatha—leaders of the Nation of Israel—have just brought out the books of the law and read them to the people. Thank God for leaders who stick to the Word of God. The people had not had the books of the law opened to them in many years. Leaders sometimes forget God and begin to speak from their own ideas and views. When the people heard the law read, and were given to understand the law, they were so overwhelmed by what they heard, that they wept.
But Nehemiah said, “Hey, don’t weep…this day is holy to the Lord.” Even if you’ve been backslidden or away from God, when He has revealed His truth to you, don’t cry… REJOICE, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The knowledge of God is a good thing, even if you have been in disobedience. It is good to know God, period. Look around you at all the people who do not have relationship with God. Even if you find out you’ve been way off base with God, just knowing His word is reason to rejoice. Find out where you are with Him and rejoice! Locate yourself and rejoice! Acknowledge HIM as Lord and rejoice!
This is what the children of Israel did. They listened to the Word for the first time in many years. They found out how they measured up to God’s standard, and they wept because they fell short. But mourning your weakness will only weaken you more. Joy strengthens you with a determination to overcome weakness, and go forward in God.
Nehemiah said, “This day is holy! Rejoice, have a feast!” When God brings us His truth, He is setting a table before us and inviting us to eat and drink and enjoy Him. He comes with word to strengthen and refresh us, not to cause us sorrow. So, when God brings His word to you, REJOICE! Even when God corrects you, REJOICE! You will need the joy of God to stay on top. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
If you are in need of healing, there is good news! Proverbs 4:20-22 SAYS:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
So there is life and health in God’s word. Since God’s word is medicine, we must take it like we would a prescription. I suggest three times a day, like you would your food. Remember, healing is the children’s bread. Consider this your “dose” for today. Remember, read, and meditate three times a day the following:
Rx: Nehemiah 8:10 ~ The joy of the Lord is your strength.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15
If you’ve never studied the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we invite you to join us as we read through the Bible in a year. Read and meditate on these chapters this week:
June 27: Deuteronomy 32, Psalms 119:121-144, Isaiah 59, Matthew 7
June 28: Deuteronomy 33-34, Psalms 119:145-176, Isaiah 60, Matthew 8
June 29: Joshua 1, Psalms 120-122, Isaiah 61, Matthew 9
June 30: Joshua 2, Psalms 123-125, Isaiah 62, Matthew 10
July 1: Joshua 3, Psalms 126-128, Isaiah 63, Matthew 11
July 2: Joshua 4, Psalms 129-131, Isaiah 64, Matthew 12
July 3: Joshua 5-6:5, Psalms 132-134, Isaiah 65, Matthew 13
And 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.
The people were glad because they understood the Word of God. Just think of it: understanding brought so much joy.
Remember when you first began to learn long division or fractions? When you couldn’t work the problems out, you were miserable. Over and over again you tried. You erased that one problem until there was a hole in the paper and, then suddenly, the right answer came. What joy!
It’s the same thing with knowing and understanding God’s word. When enlightenment comes, what joy! What started out in sadness winds up being a DAY OF FEASTING FOR ALL!
THE JOY OF THE LORD causes the blessings to flow to all, rich and poor. The people were instructed to share their goods with those who had none. The joy of the Lord brings abundance, generosity, and blessings for those less fortunate.
Bless somebody today with your joy!
Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”
The leaders continue to teach the people the Word. After enlightenment comes, then comes the desire to do the will of God. It never fails; whenever we learn something that is good and right, we want to continue in it. It is so important for us not to become complacent in the knowledge that we have. We can never learn too much about God. A wise leader will desire to teach us more about God. They want us to be successful in all that we do. They help us to broaden our knowledge of God.
And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”
Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim.
The leaders compel and instruct the people to obey the Word of God. Good leaders challenge and compel the people to obey God in faith. Obedience is always possible because we can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens us. His joy empowered Him to endure the cross, despise the shame and obey the Father (Hebrews 12:2). This is the joy He’s given to strengthens us. Jesus said no one can ever take His joy away from us (John 16:22).
Remember, joy is also a fruit of His Spirit. We can taste and see He is good, and the sweetness of His joy will make the yoke easy and the burden light. So, never think that God has requested more of you than you are capable of doing. All things are possible to you if you will believe.
So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.
The people made booths (a lot of work) and observed the feast as God commanded, and were glad. Faith in God’s word—though difficult at times, and a lot of work—always brings gladness. The Kingdom of Heaven is like this. What seems difficult or too hard…with Him is easy, and brings so much satisfaction. This is life in the Spirit. This is the walk of faith. This is the joy of the Lord.
The people started in mourning and wound up in rejoicing and gladness all because they leaders took the initiative to teach them the right way, and compel them to believe and follow God. When following God seems most difficult, it will often wind up being the most rewarding for you and those around you.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice! The joy of the Lord is your strength.