Moment in the Word

Nehemiah 8:10 - 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.
One of my favorite Bible stories occurs in 2 Chronicles 20 where a vast army from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir prepared to attack Judah.
However, before the enemy arrived, a prophet encouraged the frightened people by saying, "Fear not, neither be alarmed, before all this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go ye down against them... It is not for you to fight: understand these things, and see the deliverance of the Lord with you... fear not, neither be afraid to go forth tomorrow to meet them." (2 Chronicles 20:15-17, Brenton's 1851 Greek Septuagint)
In response, the King of Judah "took counsel with the people, and set appointed men to sing psalms and praises, to give thanks, and sing the holy songs of praise in going forth before the host: and they said, 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his mercy endures forever.'" (2 Chronicles 20:21, Brenton's 1851 Greek Septuagint)
As a result of their rejoicing, "the Lord caused the children of Ammon to fight against Moab, and the inhabitants of mount Seir that came out against Judah; and they were routed. Then the children of Ammon and Moab rose up against the dwellers in mount Seir, to destroy and consume them; and when they had made an end of destroying the inhabitants of Seir, they rose up against one another so that they were utterly destroyed. And Judah came to the watch-tower of the wilderness, and looked, and saw the multitude, and, behold, they were all fallen dead upon the earth, not one escaped." (2 Chronicles 22-24, Brenton's 1851 Greek Septuagint)
As we contemplate the story of King Jehoshaphat appointing singers to lead his army, let's remember the earlier verse from Nehemiah that said, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
But what is the "Joy of the Lord?" There are two ways to interpret the phrase. First, the meaning could refer to the joy we experience by serving the Lord. But a second understanding might be the enjoyment we give God through our service. Consider Matthew 3:17, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy," or also, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness (or joy)." Matthew 25:23 - Either way, the "Joy of the Lord" involves His people's praise that forms a tabernacle of thanksgiving where God literally dwells (Psalms 22:3).
For this reason, St. Paul ordered, "Rejoice in our Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)
As we hear about revivals currently happening on college campuses among groups of young people, we should not be surprised that the Holy Spirit is moving in reaction to our children's sincere praise. Maybe it's time that we join them in adoring the Lord and, like King Jehoshaphat, let God fight our battles for us!
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