Also, read about the confidence we can have in life’s storms.
Nehemiah 8 & 9
From Grief to Joy
Nehemiah 8 & 9:
The Importance of Different Gifts
God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.
In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).
Every gift is necessary and important.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).
From Grief to Joy
The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.
It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it.”
“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ … And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh. 8.10, 12).
The proper understanding of God and His word led to great joy and celebration among the people.
Today’s Other Readings:
Glories, Blessings, and Rejoicing
In verses 11-14 the psalmist continues to extol the glories of God, and in verse 15 he begins to talk about the blessings of the children of God. Then verses 16-18 remind us that we can rejoice in who God is (good and righteous), that He makes us strong, that He causes us to walk in light (wisdom and understanding) and that it pleases Him to take care of us.