When Ezra opens up the Word of God, the Hebrew Torah, the people stand up. Before Ezra reads, he blesses God. After he reads, the people respond with “Amen, Amen!” (Neh. 8:6; NKJV) in unison as they lift their hands toward heaven. They then bow their heads down and worship with their faces to the ground.
Read Nehemiah 8:9-12. Why did the leaders tell the people not to “mourn nor weep”?
“So, in later years, when the law of God was read in Jerusalem to the captives returned from Babylon, and the people wept because of their transgressions, the gracious words were spoken: “Mourn not…. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:9-10” – Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 281.
As the people were listening to the words of God, they were struck by their own sinfulness and began to weep. When God reveals Himself to us and we begin to grasp that God is full of love, goodness, mercy, and faithfulness, our own inadequacies and failure to be what we should be come to the forefront. Seeing God’s holiness through His Word causes us to see our terribleness in a new light. This realization caused the people of Israel to weep and mourn, but they were not to sorrow, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). In other words, despite their failures, they could trust in the power of God.
This was also a special day, a holy day, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), on which short blasts of the trumpets signaled the importance of “heart” preparation for the judgment of the Lord (Day of Atonement, celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Tishri). The blowing of the trumpets signaled a call to stand before God and repent. Because the day was designed to remind the people to turn to God, the weeping and mourning is understandable. But the leaders reminded them that once they had repented, God had heard them, and therefore it was time to rejoice in God’s forgiveness.
|What should it tell us about just how bad sin is that it put Jesus on the cross as the only way to solve the problem of sin and give us hope?|