The Law of Joy

The Law of Joy: Morning’s grey light had just begun to dawn when the sermon started. Every person old enough to understand was there. The scrolls were opened and read and explained … and read and explained. There were no complaints about the hard pews – the people were standing. Standing, attentive, engaged, eager to listen … to what some had never heard. It was high noon when Ezra the priest finally rolled up the scroll containing the law of Moses and by then the people were weeping. It was not because of the length of the sermon … it was because they recognized the depth of their sin. A generation of exiles were back in the promised land, being exposed anew to all that God expected and all that they had not done. Their tears were genuine tears of repentance.
 
What came next might surprise you. The leaders told the people to stop weeping and go have a party. They were to break out “choice foods and sweet drinks” and invite those less fortunate to party with them. Nehemiah, the governor said the most extraordinary thing …
 
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10
 
God, through His prophets, had so often begged his people to repent. Here’s one beautiful example where they did. Then, He told them to dry their eyes and go throw a party. This too, was part of the law. Far from being somber and melancholy, the relationship God sought with His people had built in times of pleasure seeking. Not lawless hedonism, but times of taking pleasure in God’s good gifts in God’s good presence (Deut. 12:7; 14:24–26). As odd as it may sound, joy was commanded.
 
Sorrow over sin is right and good … if it turns us back to God. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret …” 2 Corinthians 7:10. The sorrow of repentance is not meant to endure but to lead to Joy. That Joy is one of the greatest sources of strength in our relationship with God. Have you sinned? Turn back … and then rejoice! Rejoice in the God who forgives!
 
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” Romans 4:7-8