The People Wept

Nehemiah 8:9 (ESV) – 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.

Over the years of my life, I have at various times wept. During some worship experiences, as I have reflected on what God has done for me, I have had tears of joy and amazement. I have cried because of physical pain, especially as I think about when I broke my pelvic ring in 2004.In 2013, I not only wept but I learned about wailing, when my youngest daughter, Anna, died as a 21-year-old in a car accident. I continue to cry when I miss her.

In the above verse, the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem, “wept as they heard the words of the Law.” That sounds a bit bizarre. When I think about hearing law being read to me, I think about being bored. Yet, that is not what happened.

Perhaps a bit more background is helpful. The exiles who had returned were not aware of the words of Law that were being read to them. The words directly challenged them. They cut to the core of who they were as a people. As they listened, they realized that they were not at all where God desired them to be. The result? Guilt. The tears they shed were tears of knowing that God was not pleased with how they were living.

It is interesting that the leaders challenged them to move beyond their tears to accept that God was in charge. They said, “This day is holy to the Lord your God.” In other words, the leaders told the people that the day was not about the people, it was about God, and that the day was holy.

I have also cried tears of amazement as I have read God’s word. Throughout the Bible, followers of God are always challenged to embrace God’s word. Jesus said that to really be his disciple requires holding to his teachings (John 8:31). That challenges me. I hope that it challenges you too.

Prayer: Father in heaven, You use Your word to allow me to know You. Without Your word, I am adrift. With Your word, I have an anchor to my soul. Thank You for Your word. May I continue to embrace it every day.

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