The story of the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem, after the return from exile, is told in the Old Testament book Nehemiah. After the PHYSICAL restoration had taken place, under the able supervision of Nehemiah, the work of SPIRITUAL restoration began.
Ezra, the scribe, assembled the people in Jerusalem to read the scrolls containing the written Word of God. The Levites would explain what the words meant. This was necessary because those who came back from exile in Babylon didn’t understand Hebrew very well. Also, they had lived apart from the faith of their ancestors for so long that they didn’t really know what had been recorded for them.
We’re told that “all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.” We’re not told exactly why they wept. Perhaps the tears were caused by feelings of regret that they’d missed out for so many years. Perhaps they wept because it seemed as if too much would be expected of them.
Ezra, recognizing grief, encouraged them: “This day is holy to our Lord! Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This is great advice when we look at spiritual growth and improvement.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown says to Linus: “Perhaps you can give me an answer Linus. What would you do if you felt that no one liked you?”
Linus replied, “I’d try to look at myself objectively, and see what I could improve. That’s my answer, Charlie Brown.”
To which Charlie replies, “I hate that answer!”
Perhaps the people of Israel hated the answer they received about improving their lives. They would have some heavy-duty commandments to follow, including 613 laws and regulations. They would be required to take weekly Sabbath rest. They would be required to read and re-read the written Word of God. Perhaps they wept because they “hated the answer.”
Thanks be to God they listened to Ezra’s advice: “This day is holy to our Lord! Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Are you looking to grow spiritually? There’s JOY in that! And you’re not alone. The Lord will supply strength! Can you say with me, “I love that answer!”