Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nehemiah-Don't Be Sad, For the Joy of the Lords is Your Strength

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 8

From Nehemiah's Journal

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My name is Nehemiah. I had been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

The king of Babylon sent me to oversee the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. 

The walls are finished, Israelites are living in the city, businesses are growing. 

Now that we felt like a nation, we needed to act like the nation God wanted us to be. Many of the people, including myself, didn't really understand what God expected from us. We'd mostly grown up in slavery in Babylon. Many Israelites were even born after our fathers had been taken as prisoners and had never seen this city before.

So, the time came to teach.

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A few years ago Cyrus, the king in Babylon at the time had sent the prophet Ezra to Jerusalem to lead the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. Ezra is still here.

He and I met. We talked about the need to read the Law of Moses to all the people, to teach them the ways of God. 

We set up a time for all Israelites to meet in Jerusalem. It was the seventh month when we asked the people to gather in the square before the Water Gate. 

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On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest stood on a high wooden platform built for this very moment. Priests stood on his left and right. Ezra opened the book before men and women and children who could understand the words about to be read. Everyone could see him no matter where they stood. The people stood as he opened the book. 

Ezra started by praising the Lord, the great God. All the people lifted their hands and said, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

He read the Book of the Law of Moses aloud from daybreak till noon. The people listened, excited to hear every word.

Afterwards the Levites read from the Book of the Law of God, making the messages clear and giving meaning so the people could understand what was read.

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The people wept as they listened to the words of the law. Ezra and I were glad to see they were sorry, and wanted to help them move past their sorrow to see how much God loved them.

The Levites, Ezra, and I stood before the people. We said, "This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or cry. Instead, go and enjoy good food and sweet drink, and send food to those who have none. This day is sacred to our Lord. Don't be sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

When we'd convinced the people, they went away to eat and drink. They also sent food to those in need and celebrated with great joy because they now understood the words that Ezra first read to them.

Come back next time to see what happens.

sources: New International Version, New King James Version 

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