Read His Words Before Ours!
Before Nehemiah began his quest to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, his friend Ezra was on the scene to bring the Israelite community back together after years of exile in Babylon. (Ezra 7) Ezra gathered exiled Israelites from Babylon, uniting them with those already in Jerusalem to bring spiritual restoration as a community to the nation.
As Nehemiah governs God’s people in Jerusalem and works to rebuild the wall, he finds a partner in the spiritual leader, Ezra. When the wall is finally rebuilt, Ezra and Nehemiah join forces to point their people back to God. (Nehemiah 8) What a refreshing view of spiritual and governing leaders coming together for the benefit of their people and the glory of God!
For seven days, Ezra and other spiritual leaders read the Torah and taught its meaning to the people.
And the people began responding.
After years of being unable to hear God’s word and celebrate their religious holidays, the Israelites began repenting. They listened and followed instructions to build the same festival shelters their forefathers had built; they began celebrating God through feasting together, and they began worshiping the Lord with JOY.
Joy was restored.
Can you imagine, after 70 years of slavery and exile, doing anything but grumbling and throwing yourself a pity party? I don’t know about you, but I’d be attending that pity party, table for one!
But this is the power of God’s Holy Word: to build back up what has been torn down, to transform us and restore us to the beautiful, joyful creation He intended us to be.
It’s easy to read this story on the other side, thousands of years later, and quickly pinpoint where the Israelites made mistakes. Yet, we are in need of the same restoration God graciously offered them in their renewed city, for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23-24)
Just as the Israelites were exiled from Jerusalem, so in our sin, we were exiled from a relationship with our Creator and Father.
But then God’s Word was made flesh in the form of Jesus, and a whole new era of restoration began. (John 1:1-18) Just as Ezra and Nehemiah made space for the Word of God to be heard, taught, and practiced, Jesus was God’s Word incarnate, dwelling among us, teaching us how to live and turn back to God.
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus was the way for restoration.
Now, as we live on the other side of restoration, in relationship with God, we wait for the second coming of Jesus and the restoration of the world as we know it.
Don’t we see it around us?
Don’t we see it in ourselves?
We’re living in “the now and the not yet” of restoration.
So, what do we do as we wait for our final restoration?
Where do we find our joy in the meantime?
We remember the dedication of Ezra and Nehemiah and we turn to God’s Word. We seek it, and we allow others to teach us. We learn and practice what it says. We gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and we celebrate all God has done.
Here, we find joy.
We find daily renewal and restoration.
We find hope when it seems all is lost, and we feel like we’ve endured 70 years of exile.
Will you join me in continuing to dig into God’s word? (Look at you, doing that right now!)
Will you seek understanding?
Will you do what His Word says?
Will you gather your friends and family to delight in God together?
Will you remember to find Joy?
Because you, my friend, have been Restored.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!