Oct 26, 2012

The Joy of Holiness

"Many of us associate holiness with a kind of melancholy grimness. One passage that God used to explode this myth was the account of Israel’s return from the Babylonian exile (Neh. 8:1–12). Ezra gathered the people and read from the law of God. As he was reading, the people’s hearts ached so deeply from hearing the Scriptures that they began to weep. What happened next is illuminating:

"And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved” (Neh. 8:9–11 NKJV).

"From God’s point of view, holiness is the partner of joy, not sorrow. The closer we are to God, the more consistently we exhibit the joy of his character. To be at his right hand is to know the eternal pleasures that he supplies (cp. Ps. 16:11)."

Doug McIntosh, Deuteronomy, Holman Old Testament Commentary, ed. Max Anders (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 275-76.

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