My pastor (@jasonesposito1) has been teaching through the book of Nehemiah over the past several weeks and it’s been very interesting. This week we finished off the series by learning about Biblical celebrations. I thought that with Easter around the corner, it would be a great time to share some of what I got out of the message.
After the wall surrounding Jerusalem had been rebuilt, Ezra read the law. Initially, everyone was mourning and weeping because they realized how they had been falling short. But Nehemiah told them not to mourn.
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send to some who have nothing prepared. This day is scared to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'” Nehemiah 8:10
There are clearly times that it’s appropriate to mourn, but this wasn’t one of them. Everyone went home and ate and partied! Not long after that, they read about the Feast of Tabernacles, where they were supposed to live in booths or tents and have an extended time of feasting and celebration. It would be like camping in your backyard and having Thanksgiving all week long!
What was the purpose of all this? Why tents? And how can we apply it today? Celebrations have three purposes.
1. To look back. The Bible is full of admonitions to remember what God has done for us. The Israelites were to live in tents to remind them of the time they spent in the wilderness before God brought them to the Promised Land. God provided for them then and would continue to provide for them. We should also look back over how God has provided for us and allow it to comfort us that He will continue to provide.
2. To look around. Both the Israelites and we need to look around us and see how He has currently blessed us. Sometimes, when we’re going through difficult situations, we can get so caught up in what isn’t going well that we lose sight of all we do have and all that is good.
3. To look ahead. The Israelites were looking forward to the coming Messiah. We know that Jesus the Messiah has already come once but will return to make everything right. Whatever we’re going through, we know that He will fix it in the end. One day, maybe soon, He will return and there will be no more sorrow, tears or pain. Hallelujah!
We can find joy in all those things, regardless of our present circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength! God has provided, He is providing, and He will provide. He was, He is, and He is to come. Amen!