The records of Ezra and Nehemiah tells us quite dramatically – and inspiringly– of the return from Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding, first of the Temple and then of the walls of Jerusalem. Today’s 8th chapter of Nehemiah recounts the reading of the Law by Ezra and how “all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.” [v.9]
The people are taught “this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”[v.10] What wonderful emotions stirred the people … the Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”[v.11,12] Let us rejoice more and more as we understand God’s word and it comes ‘alive’ more and more in our minds and we have faith and confidence in our future.
It is far beyond our imagination to think of the reaction around the world when Jesus returns – and at last the people of the world know, far beyond any doubting, that there is a Creator – and his Son is in control of their destiny – and his word must be obeyed “For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” as Isaiah records and – further states – “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples.” [2 v.3,4]
But what awesome words are in his 26th chapter (v. 21) “behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” The world is full of iniquity today! How much punishment will be needed!? But after that, consider what we read in Heb. 8 v.11, “they shall not teach, each one his neighbour and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” What very “great rejoicing” there will be for those “know the Lord” now – and, in that day, for their faith will be turned to sight.
But before that day, indeed it could be in the very near future, the events we read today in Joel will surely take place, when “The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake” [3 v.15,16]
But Joel’s next words tell us, ” the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. ‘So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy”
Those who love and serve the Lord now, will surely be there, because of his wondrous grace – and be endlessly filled with “great rejoicing” and have eternal lives of wondrous service; lives, as Jesus said, “equal to angels.” [Luke 20 v.36]