What is your first reaction to the word “holiness”? For most, it is boredom, misery, restriction. People think of holiness as being something that is very negative and that will effect their lives for the worse. But this is wrong and the reverse is actually true. When we experience holiness, we actually experience true joy.
These words from Nehemiah 8:9-12 are interesting. In the opening part of Nehemiah 8 we read how the Word of God has been brought to the people.
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, ‘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 Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.’
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”
As you read through this passage, you see the conviction of the leaders that a time of holiness means a time of joy. They encourage the people not to mourn or weep out of grief. Rather, they are to enjoy this special time to the Lord and for the Lord. It is a day for good food and drink. it is a day for celebrating with others. It is a day of holiness, and therefore it is a day of joy.
The whole passage, rather than having a mourning feel to it, has a “party” feel to it. But why is this?
It is surely due to the fact that when we come into the presence of the Lord and know that we are accepted by Him, delight and joy are the outcome. It is sin that always brings sadness. Holiness brings happiness. To walk in harmony with the holy Lord God is always a delightful thing.
Let our lives be lived then with a sense of delight that we, through Jesus, are accepted into His holy presence. Let us experience the reality of the joy of the Lord being our strength.