Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rejoice, be glad, take great delight and enjoy God

The Reading of the Law Nehemiah 8 “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly (with interpretation, paragraph by paragraph), and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. After this, the very next day, heads of the houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. In the law they found that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and tell everyone about God, our LORD.” [Neh 8: 5, 8, 13,14] From this we learn,
  • that the people had utter respect for the law
  • the people were eager or hungry to be taught.
  • the people took initiative to learn from their teachers, by asking the teachers to teach.
  • the teachers were very patient in teaching and taught the law by explaining paragraph by paragraph by interpretation.
Probably they read the book of Deuteronomy. In it we find that; “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.” [31:9-13 ] The law is read in front of everybody; “they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” In the same book it is commanded by God “you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.” [Deut 27:7]. To rejoice before the LORD is a commandment from God. Its not something that we do when we feel like it. When the people in the days of Nehemiah heard the words of the law they wept and mourned as they realized who they are in front of God, knowing how great their sins and miseries are. But, very interesting thing happens. The people are encouraged by the leaders to rejoice, be glad, take great delight, enjoy. The people understood the words that the teachers taught, and to make great rejoicing because they had understood the law. They ate and drank, basically had a party and invited people who couldn’t afford to party with them. The story says that they understood the law and that “the joy of the LORD is their strength”. When we read the book of Deuteronomy, we find pages after pages of horrible curses from God, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things” Here, again, we find that God takes the matters of the heart very seriously. It says that this happened because there was abundance of other things and the heart was divided to these things. But, we can not make our hearts joyful and glad. In the same book, it is written that the people will fall back, be stubborn, and whore after things other than the LORD our God because the LORD hadn’t given a heart to understand or eyes to see or ear to hear [29:4]. But, in the same book, God also promises restoration and renewal because of His sovereign work in the hearts of His people. “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments" [30:6-8] Now in Christ Jesus’ blood this covenant was renewed. The night before His death Jesus told His disciples, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” [Luke 22:20] Jesus did the work for us. And, He is still doing it in us. Our LORD is the one who changes our hearts and our childrens so that we will love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and we will have life. That same night Jesus also taught something very important concept to His disciples in order that they can rejoice, be glad, take great delight and enjoy God to the fullest.

No comments: