Joy?

Day 167

Prayer for the day

May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

Scripture for the day

Nehemiah 7-9, Acts 3

The people of Israel have returned from exile. They have begun rebuilding the land. They have taken seriously the task of re-inhabiting their homeland. In the midst of their rebuilding, Ezra stands before the people, and in one reading, he teaches them the Law. He acts as the voice of God for the people, and the people, in their passion, begin to weep at hearing the words of God spoken to them.

Ezra, however, forbids them to weep. This is to be, he says, a happy occasion, the day when the people return to their God. He commands them to put aside their sorrow and to rejoice. The return to God, the return to the Law and all it represents to the people is supposed to engender joy. It certainly causes God a great deal of joy.

And so the people rejoice. They spend days celebrating the goodness of God and their return to him. Things will get serious in a few days when they repent, but for now, the joy is thick!

The healing of the lame man by Peter and John has the same effect. The man leaps up and is ecstatic. He, like the children of Israel, has seen the power of God, has seen the purpose of God for him, and he rejoices.

When Peter speaks to the crowd of onlookers, his sermon is a little less joyous, but only because the good news he is preaching is a good news that necessarily includes these very onlookers crucifying the best thing to ever show up on planet earth. However, what he says is intended to provoke joy in the forgiveness of a faithful God.

Are we listening to the voice of God? Does it provoke the same joy?

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