“… for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.” (Nehemiah 8:10,11)
The context of the above passage is this- Nehemiah has heard of the wrecked condition of Jerusalem from one Hanani. Nehemiah is greatly distressed and saddened by this news. Nehemiah was a man that served King Artazerzess in very close quarters so the king was able to see Nehemiah’s distress. Upon being questioned by the king Nehemiah makes known unto him the reason for his sadness.
The king being gracious to Nehemiah gives him leave to return to Jerusalem to rebuild it, beginning with the wall. There is very much to be gleaned from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that we are skipping over so one would be greatly edified to study said books.
Upon the timely completion of the wall “all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street…and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD has commanded to Israel.” As Ezra began and continued to read the law distinctly to the men and women “all the people wept when they heard the [W]ords of the [L]aw. At this point of the narrative we have find our text.The people are told to hold their weeping and should “re-joy-ce” in the LORD their God. Certainly there will be time to weep and mourn over one’s sin but this is not that time. Now is the time to be greatly strengthened by their knowledge of God’s goodness and longsuffering towards them.
When we were younger in our faith we understood not how the “joy of the LORD” was our strength. We do now. Joy is listed as second in the list of the fruits of the Spirit. Therefore joy comes after love and joy must ripen before strength is fully discovered and appropriated.
There are different ways to understand this truth and all the ways a blessed. The first way we can understand this is by being strengthened in the knowledge that God finds joy in us. Yes! God is joyful as He continuously thinks of us. In other words, as we live our lives in Christ we fill God with joy….WAWAWOW!!! What a thought. This will strengthen and encourage us greatly.
Another way to understand this truth is this…The Christ-ian that is fully aware of all s/he is in Christ and all that Christ is to him/her as well as all that Christ is preparing for him/her will be filled to overflow with joy. And this overflow of joy will encourage and greatly strengthen the Christ-ian.
The (3rd) third way one might understand the way the joy of the LORD is one’s strength is by seeing it as the ever ripening fruit of the Spirit. As the Holy Spirit indwells the believer He brings the seeds that will grow into fruit. The first is love and the second is joy. As the Christ-ian lives in the Spirit, walks in the Spirit and is led of the Spirit these fruits will ripen. As the first two (2) fruits ripen the Christ-ian will grow stronger and stronger. The more the believer’s love ripens and grows for the Lord Jesus, the Words, the Ways, and the Works of the Lord Jesus s/he will find joy. The more the Christ-ian partakes of the divine nature the more the Christ-ian will love the brethren, the neighbor, and the enemy.
The Christ-ian will continue to grow stronger and stronger and stronger as his love deepens and his joy energizes, edifies, and encourages more and more and much more!!! The person or new creature in Christ will be made strong and with this joy-filled strength the other fruits will ripen as well. The fruits of peace (no fear), the fruit of longsuffering (patient endurance), the fruit of gentleness, the fruit of (overwhelming and overcoming) goodness, the fruit Faith (that shields us and allows us to be in the world yet separate from the world and it’s contaminating nature), the fruit of meekness (our secret identity), and the fruit of temperance (self control).
Any way we look at it we, as Christ-ians, are made strong by the Joy of the LORD.
To rejoice is to revisit the fountain of the LORD’s JOY again and again and again.
Re–JOY–ce and again I say, Re–JOY–ce. said by St. Paul the italics and bold font is mine.
Now, EnJOY your day… for this is the day which the LORD hath made; we will reJOYce and be glad in it….no matter what!!!