Nehemiah had been a cup bearer for king Artaxerxes 1 of Persia [465 – 424 BC] but when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he wept and asked the king for permission to go and rebuild the city. King Artaxerxes promoted Nehemiah as governor to Judah with a mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
During Nehemiah’s time, the Israelites had suffered severe consequences for their continual rejection of Him and His covenant. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he found more than rubble + broken walls – he also found BROKEN LIVES. He gathered the people together to hear the prophet Ezra read Neh. 8 to the people. As the people listened to Ezra, they became sorrowful about their sins and repented so that they could be restored by God and regain their identity.
God encouraged them that they were still his chosen people, and He was still their God. Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 8:10, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.”
The joy of the Lord is found on the road to restoration. The original Hebrew for ”joy” is chedvah, meaning joy or gladness. The root word for joy in this context, means to rejoice. ”Strength” in the same verse from the Hebrew word, maoz, means a place of safety, protection, refuge, or stronghold. The root word of strength means to be strong, to prevail; to make firm, to strengthen.
The joy of the Lord comes from an inner strengthening from our relationship with Him. When Jesus died for us, He restored us to a peace with God that cannot be undone. Joy doesn’t just happen. It’s the product of a plan to restore our souls and a part of God’s plan for our lives
Dearest Heavenly Father, thank You so much that YOU are the key to our joy. Thank You that You are always with us, watching over us as Psalm 121 states. Thank You so much that when I come to You in sorrow or repentance, that You give abundant joy which strengthens my inner being. YOU are my living joy and hope, Oh Lord, my Saviour and King!