I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. Ps 119:30
The wall is finished. The people assemble and ask Ezra to read to them from the Law. Ezra complies. As the people stand, Ezra reads from daybreak to noon. The people worship. The Levites help interpret and explain the law. The people weep. Ezra, Nehemiah and others encourage the people to be joyful on this day and celebrate by sharing food. They are to remember that the "Joy of the Lord is their strength." The next day the leaders gather for more reading of the law and discover the Feast of Booths is to be celebrated. And celebrate they did, in fact it says in verse 17 that the people had not celebrated it like this since the days of Joshua. Each day of the festival the people gather and Ezra reads to them from the book of the law of God.
I hate standing for very long. At church, I sometimes sit down during worship if we stand for too long. So I wonder what it would have been like to have been there for the reading of the law. Would I have been like a person thirsty for water as I heard the words of God? Would I have gotten tired of standing or would my respect and eagerness to hear God's word been stronger? Would I have struggled to understand Hebrew after living in a land that spoke Aramaic? Would I have wept as I realized the sin in my life? Would my joy have been great as I celebrated with my friends and family that now we were home and learning again how to love and serve God?
This chapter encouraged me to make the reading of scripture a more important part of our family celebrations and times together. It also encouraged me to be diligent in helping others understand and learn God's word. I thank God for those around the world who are translating God's word into other languages so all people can hear and understand. Lastly I am reminded that the joy of the Lord is my strength. Often it is joy that sets followers of Jesus apart. How do I show that joy? Isn't it true, when God gives us joy we are strong and able to handle what ever the world sends our way.
Dear God, May I honor and respect the reading of your word. May I be faithful in reading your word to my children and helping them understand. Today and in the the tomorrows to come, may your joy be my strength. Amen