The people of Israel became hungry for the Word of God. However, when they heard it, an awareness surfaced of how far from God they had gone. Then they wept. Nehemiah though knew that they could not stop there. It was only a doorway to repentance, salvation and joy. It was through this doorway they must go through to know the joy of the Lord which would keep them strong.
The Word of God
The Word of God is alive. It never grows old. Nor does it ever stagnate. It goes deep and shows up what is in the heart. God’s word is the light which reveals the darkness within. From the living word of God we become aware of our sinfulness. It did so in Nehemiah’s day and is the same in our day.
From the awareness of sinfulness came a deep sorrow which led them to repentance. They regretted what had happened. Yet it wasn’t a “sorry I got caught”. Nor was it “we will try to do better”. Instead, it was seeing their sin in the light of God’s purity and it resulted in mourning. They however, would never be the same. The repentance had done the work God had intended. Thus mourning was not a place to stop and stay. Rather it was a step toward salvation.
The Joy of Salvation
Finally salvation brings about the joy which becomes the place of strength for those who lodge therein. King David in Psalm 51, cries out “restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation”. He has known the joy, he has lost it. He, however, knows the way back. It is through the repentance that leads to salvation and the joy. It is this joy, the joy of the Lord that provided their strength and provided a stronghold around them and does the same for us today. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Stay in the joy!