#DailyDevotion Be Quiet And Do Not Grieve
Neh 8:8-11 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (9) And Nehemiah, 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 as they heard the words of the Law. (10) Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (11) So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”
When the Jews heard and understood all that the Lord their God had done for them and what he required of them, they mourned over their sins. Their fathers had rejected the Lord as their God or as their exclusive God. They had broken the Sabbath. They trusted false gods. They oppressed the widow, the orphan, the poor and the foreigner at the gate. They had offered up their children to idols who cannot help. So they were broken of heart and spirit.
It’s hard not to feel that way when we listen to Jesus explain to us the meaning of the commandments in his sermon on the mount and on the plain. Who hasn’t lusted in their heart? Who has never been angry and called someone something unpleasant? Who has always extended their hand to the poor? Who hasn’t retaliated or wanted to retaliate? If you can meditate either sermon and not be convicted of heart you are either lying to yourself or you are self-righteous.
But Ezra and Nehemiah have good news for the Jews then and for us today. It was a great day for them for they had the Word of Lord back again. They were in Jerusalem. The temple was being repaired. The festivals would be restored. The Lord had mercy on them as they were preserved from destruction and had returned to Jerusalem. It was a holy day to the Lord. No more mourning. It was time for rejoicing. They were to have festival. The Lord wanted them to eat the fat (which was normally forbidden to them; it belonged to the Lord) and drink sweet wine. He wanted to make sure those who had nothing ready were provided for. He didn’t want them to grieved because the joy of Lord is their strength.
Perhaps we should remember that, particularly on Sundays as we gather to hear God’s Word, receive the forgiveness of our sin in the absolution, the lessons, the sermon and the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps as we receive the blessing of the Lord at the end of the service we too should go forth remember the joy of Lord is our strength. We should invite someone over who has less than us and prepare a rich feast so we both can rejoice in the Lord and all his benefits to us. For what the Jews on that day received was just a shadow of the things to come. We have received the fullness of that gift in Christ Jesus. While we are like the Jews in Babylon in exile here in this age and we look forward to be gathered together in the New Jerusalem, the Zion from heaven above never the less we have seen and heard the fulfillment of all the Lord has promised us in Christ Jesus.
If we are
distressed by the world, if our hearts and spirits have been broken, let the
words of the Levites speak to you today, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do
not be grieved.” For the Lord has come down to us and taken our sins, our
grief, our suffering and shame on the cross and has buried it in the tomb. For
Jesus’ sake you are acceptable to our Father in heaven.
Heavenly Father, when our sins and iniquities weigh us down with guilt, speak your word of forgiveness for the sake of Christ. Always provide for us those who can understand and explain your Word to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.