Nehemiah 8:9-10 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 nor weep." For all the people were weeping, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat of the fat, drink of 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."
Tonight begins the Biblical feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) throughout the world!
Roughly 2500 years ago, there was a special Sukkot celebration in Jerusalem. The people of Israel were exiled and dispersed all across the Babylonian empire. Later, they were given the right to return and start construction on the 2nd temple of Israel. Nehemiah 8 speaks of the special celebration that happened at that time. We read how Ezra taught the people out of the book of the law and how they responded in weeping and repentance before the God of Israel.
Interestingly, Sukkot is a holiday in which the people were commanded to rejoice, yet they were weeping in repentance. And then, in verse 9, they did! Isn’t it true that joy always comes after the mourning?
The word for strength in Hebrew is ”mah-oz”. Not only does it mean strength, but it also means fortress and rock. When we commit our lives to walking in repentance and practicing holiness, then we will live in a constant state of joy. As the Apostle Paul said, Rejoice always! In our joy we find our fortress, our rock – the stability of our lives!