Could it be that in our devotion, repentance and desperation we have not understood the holiness of joy?
We are not unlike Israel at the time of Nehemiah. Nearly everyone who belonged to Israel had become a slave in Babylon. The holy city Jerusalem had been abandoned and destroyed. Called by God, Nehemiah led a movement that brought people back to rebuild the centre of worship and restore the walls around their holy city. At the dedication ceremony God’s Word was read aloud by the teaching pastor Ezra. This was a forgotten practice of God’s people.
The people were listening to the Law of God and were painfully aware of their non-compliance. Have you ever felt that sense of falling short of what God requires? I have and it causes me to shed tears.
When you have failed God and are truly sorry, there is a reverence and sadness that combine into solemn gratitude. It is the lowly self-deprecation of the returning prodigal. I am not worthy and will assume the role of lowest servant. We do not trust in our happier emotions, believing that the pursuit of happiness may have been what led us into bondage in the first place.
But then, Ezra says something truly strange to them. “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.”
Did you notice where the attention is now directed? This day of return is not a somber day to the Father. The lost have been found and the dead have risen. Heaven is rejoicing over their return.