Updated: Apr 4, 2020
In the book of Nehemiah the Israelite nation is making their move back to their home in Judah. For years they have been in captivity under the rule of many nations. The latest being Persia and the King Artaxerxes.
Nehemiah is in charge of the remnant that is sent back to Jerusalem. Their first task to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Nothing else matters until that is done, because as soon as Nehemiah and the Israelites begin the task threats come from the surrounding peoples. As a result Nehemiah to calm the fears of the people sets up armed sentries to watch and protect the workers for enemies. (Nehemiah 4)
As you read the next few chapters (Neh. 5-7) you read about more opposition and conspiracies against Nehemiah, but God allows the work on the wall to be completed. The protection is put in place, and it only took 52 days to complete it.
In chapter 8 Ezra the priest reads the book of the law in front of the people and the Bible says they "understood the reading". Then Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the priest, tell the people, "This day is holy for the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep." (Neh. 8:9) You see the people were weeping as they heard the law read for they knew that they had forgotten the one, true God and had failed miserably to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength.
In verse 10 they tell the people to celebrate this day and "do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." The wall was built. The Law had been found and the people renewed their commitment to it and to the Lord.
In these days, it feels like we are in captivity. We are separated from one another, routines, and even from church. However, we must never forget that the "Lord is on our side" (Psalm 118:6) and because of that we have nothing to fear. In fact we should have a joy in times like these according to James 1:2 because these "trials of various kinds...test our faith...which produces steadfastness." Nothing can separate us from Him, and that should bring us a joy and that joy, as Nehemiah would say, should bring us strength.
So set up your armed sentries (Bible reading and prayer) to watch for the enemy of joy, remember that the Lord your God is with you and follow Him alone, and may the joy that brings give you "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow".
Finding strength in God,