We got to see Ezra again, which is awesome, a little teamup between Nehemiah and Ezra
Ezra the scribe re-introduces the Law of God to the people of Israel
It seems to be that the people who were in exile had forgotten the Law of God
They knew that they were Jewish
They did not know the depth of the Law and the depth of the Covenant
Now why would people weep?
This is just so BEAUTIFUL
Nehemiah 8:9, “And Nehe miah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.”
THIS IS SO POWERFUL!!
Why would they weep?
It’s not as if Ezra got up and started reading laws out of your local jurisdiction like speeding and traffic laws or housing ordinances, etc.
Ezra was reading the LAW OF GOD
Which was what?
THE LAW OF GOD IS WISE
It reflected a DEPTH OF JUSTICE to it
It was not only committed to JUSTICE
It reflected a DEGREE OF MERCY to it
What are the people commanded to do?
Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the aft and drink sweet wine...’”
WHICH IS GREAT!!
THIS DAY IS HOLY TO THE LORD!!
AND…”...send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared…”
Basically not only celebrate, but also send portions to those WHO DON’T HAVE ANYTHING
THIS IS JUSTICE OF THE LAW OF GOD
IT IS ALSO THE MERCY OF GOD
It could be that they are weeping because they had never heard such POWERFUL, WISE, AND GOOD COMMANDS
It also could be WHAT THE LAW REFLECTS
What does the Law reflect?
It reflects the fact that they have a COVENANT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
THEY ARE REMINDED OF THE COVENANT OF THE LORD GOD WITH THEM
THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
Yes we can say, “Oh we have rules here and those rules are really smart.”
The LAWS come out of a RELATIONSHIP
The RULES come out of a RELATIONSHIP
The RELATIONSHIP is the COVENANT that God establishes with his people (Do you remember when we first learned this concept? Go back and read Day 38: The Ten Commandments in The Bible in a Year Study Guide to refresh your memory 😁)
Ezra is standing on the wood platform and all the people are able to understand and hear and realize…
“There is a God who KNOWS me.”
“There is a God who LOVES me.”
“There is a God who entered into COVENANT with me and with us.”
Yes, they were Jewish
Maybe it was possible that they DID NOT KNOW WHAT THAT REALLY MEANT
That is true for us too sometimes, isn’t it?
We grow up thinking, “Yeah everyone is a child of God.”
If you are raised in a place where most of the people around you are Christians, then yeah you think everyone is a child of God
And then you realize actually that’s not true
Not only that, but we can not really know WHAT THAT MEANS
“Of course, I know I’m Jewish. I just did not know what that meant.”
“Of course, I know I’m Christian. I just did not know what that meant.”
“I’m a son or daughter of God. I just didn’t even stop to think what that meant.”
All of a sudden here comes Ezra the Scribe when he is reading the books of the words of the Law
The people are PIERCED TO THE HEART
“This is who I am made to be my entire life and that is NOT WHO I HAVE BEEN LIVING AS.”
THIS IS WHY THEY WERE WEEPING!!
“This is who I was CREATED to be.”
“This is who I have been REDEEMED to be.”
“I haven’t been LIVING like that.”
That’s why Ezra and Nehemiah have to be saying, “Listen, this day is holy to the Lord, your God. This is a celebration day. Do not mourn or weep. So go your way, celebrate, eat the fat, drink sweet wine. And send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared for this day is holy to the Lord. And do not be grieved for the JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.”
THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH
Those are words to be tattooed to your pillow (I didn’t know pillows could get tattooed….I might get this tattooed on my heart 😉)
Or maybe stitched into our minds and into our hearts
THE JOY OF THE LORD MUST BE YOUR STRENGTH!!
THAT IS NOT AN OPTION!!
IT IS NECESSARY!!
Speaking of joy and pillows and stitches and tattoos…
We have The Book of Esther and the beginning of the crisis
Haman is promoted to being second in command of all of King Ahasuerus’s kingdom
People bow down to him
EXCEPT FOR MORDECAI
He is the foster father of Esther, essentially, and he REFUSES TO BOW DOWN
So Haman, in his pettiness and littleness, makes up this argument to King Ahasuerus, “You know, you have got these Jews living among you. They have their own laws. They have their own rules. They’ve been hostile ever since the get-go. So why don’t we just completely eliminate them?”
Remember, King Ahasuerus is not a good guy, he is not a hero
He says, “Sure. Go ahead. If they’re causing trouble, kill everyone.”
We even have Ahasuerus’s letter in Esther Ch 13
He basically said, “I’m trying to keep my kingdom peaceful. I’m trying to establish lasting tranquility. Therefore, I’m going to establish lasting tranquility by eliminating anyone who stands in my way. I’m going to bring peace by destroying anyone who might not....uh….er...(stream of consciousness)...I’m going to make sure everyone is five foot two by cutting off the feet of anyone who is taller than that.”
The country of Sweden said they eliminated Down Syndrome
How did they do that?
Well, they killed every baby who had Down Syndrome
So yeah they’ve eradicated this issue from their lives, but they did it by killing every human being who had down syndrome (I’m just typing out what Fr. Mike said...I’m sure he means abortion in this case. I looked it up and found several epidemiological articles about this online. If what he said troubles you, I encourage you to go read for yourself. It also happens in other countries all over the world.)
In this case, King Ahasuerus said, “I’m going to establish this peace and keep lasting tranquility by KILLING ANYONE who disturbs the peace.”
King Ahasuerus is EVIL
So Esther is going to come before King Ahasuerus, we not only have the story of what he did with Queen Vashti (Please tell me you remember what happened? If not, go back and read Day 275: Esther Becomes Queen in The Bible in a Year Study Guide 😁)
We also have this story of how volatile, violent, unreasonable, and genocidal he can be
So if Esther has to intercede on behalf of her people, she would be taking her own life into her hands
For all of us, we are called to WITNESS TO THE LORD GOD
We are called to WITNESS TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
In doing so, we also are taking our lives into our hands
Because of that, WE NEED PRAYERS
WE NEED GOD’S GRACE
You have been brought into the COVENANT
A COVENANT OF LOVE
A COVENANT OF MERCY
A COVENANT OF JUSTICE
A COVENANT OF TRUTH
In order to LIVE THIS COVENANT and PROCLAIM THIS COVENANT, WE NEED GRACE
FATHER MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER