Nehemiah 8:8-12


They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, Helping the people understand each passage.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe,

And the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them,

“Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this!

For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.”

For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks,

And share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.

This is a sacred day before our Lord.

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.”

So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food,

And to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them. 


As we continue our Easter celebration, we look today at Nehemiah.  He holds a special place in Biblical history.  Nehemiah was the personal cupbearer to Artaxerxes I who ruled from 464-424 B.C.  In 445 B.C., Nehemiah was given permission to go to Judah and restore his people's fortunes.  He rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in a record 52 days and gave all the glory to God.  Every day he prayed to God to strengthen his hands.  God did, and the constant attacks on the people of Jerusalem stopped, because the city was fortified again.  Nehemiah was appointed governor of Jerusalem.  He worked along-side the prophet Ezra to unite this "new nation" in Jerusalem.  We have now arrived at our Scripture lesson today, which hopefully will make more sense.  There was a reason this generation had not heard the Law of Moses.  They were under military siege and most of their orthodox Jewish customs and worship had been prohibited.  Since the city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in 587, there had been constant turmoil in Jerusalem.  While a second temple was built in 515, it was not until the age of Ezra and Nehemiah that people once again felt safe to resume their religious customs that generations had lost and stopped practicing.  There was a reason why the people wept when they heard the Law.  The best comparison we would have is for you to remember what it was like for you, the first time you heard the story of salvation from Jesus Christ.  I was overcome.  I hope you were too.  This will help you understand what the Jews were feeling.  Then, Nehemiah gives his people great hope from God.  Nehemiah tells them that their joy is in the Lord.  He tells them to go in peace and have a meal together.  There is that "breaking bread and fellowshipping thing" again!  This time Nehemiah throws in a twist, which is confirmed by the Levites that are present.  Nehemiah suggests that they should share their food with someone who has none prepared.  Remember, all the food preparation had to be done in a "clean" fashion, which was not a five-minute process.  There were also no ovens or microwaves!!!  Nehemiah is trying to spread the joy of the Lord with food.  So did Jesus.  So should we.  So today, don't weep because today is a sacred day.  It is the day that you have heard the Law of God and know that He loves you.  Celebrate the joy of the Lord which belongs to you!  Find someone today that has not "prepared" any "food" and offer them some of yours.  Show God that you have heard His words and understand!!!