Comforter and cup bearer

The cup bearer to the king was an immensely important task. If the wrong person got near the wine the King would be at risk for poison and death. The Kingdom depended on that cup of wine being pure, not diluted or filled with toxic chemicals. His job was to make sure that what was inside that cup would bring refreshment instead of certain death. Nehemiah, whose name means “comforting one” took his job seriously. The inside was important. What was inside was critical. While others may look at the beauty of the outside, the cup bearer to the King knew that what mattered most was the purity on the inside.

The temple was in ruins when a holy immigrant named Ezra came to declare to the people that God did not dwell in temples made with hands. He presented the law and called them to holiness – on the inside. Nehemiah was also born in Babylon and dwelt in finery. He wanted God’s city to look nice on the inside but he knew that Ezra was crucial to that happening because what was INSIDE was what mattered the most. How do you make an individual great again, a church, a city, a nation? The trio of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther knew the secret to build people, cities and nations – getting in the word, worshipping, wonders and deeds remembered of Yahweh and the collective “we” dwelling together in unity. Triple power pack leaders.

Neh.8  – “All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon (six hours plus) as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. …. 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. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food (means fatty meats) 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.” 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”

…..18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. (Talk about strengthening the people, wow!) They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly. The law is often thought of as binding or legalistic but here we see it as the basis to keep up their heels, dance, eat and celebrate. I think that’s a pretty good regulation. This is kind of what was said, “As your father, I demand that you rest and enjoy me and each other.” That sounds like a pretty good idea. Did God really have to tell people to enjoy Him and life? It would seem so.

The word joy is not the regular word for rejoicing (simcha) nor is it a word to be happy or exultant (shashown). It is the word Chedvah which means the process of resting, working and being in God’s presence. It’s a life lived for Him, not just a mere emotion or feeling. The only other time that phrase is seen is in 1 Chronicles and refers to being in fellowship  with God (Presence).

Note that they celebrated for 7 days. That is quite the party. The puritan prude in me cringes when I hear the party lasted for 7 days. The kid in me loves to hear the exhortation to drink Hi-C for 7 days. We have celebrated all of the Jewish festivals so we could experience the Old Testament and the last years have been filled with such awe and wonder for not only who God is but what He has done among us. When we walk out these commands there is always fruit. This year we decided that Easter – the better covenant because of Jesus on the cross should equal MORE celebration, MORE sweet drinks and more celebration. We are intentionally celebrating 7 days of Resurrection joy. God is not a killjoy. God is not a sterile demagogue. God is not a disappointed party crasher. If anything He has opened the Heavens to the family of God and the celebration there is unending. We get to practice for seven days. Break out the sparkling juices, bring out the brisket, cakes and cookies. Hosanna is risen and God is HAPPY. Do you hear me, GOD IS HAPPY.  It almost sounds blasphemous because the only partiers in our culture are thought to be rogue. No wonder God has gotten a bad reputation with tired, weary people.

Thank you Jesus for cleansing my sin, not just covering it. Thank you Jesus for welcoming me in, though I don’t deserve it.  Thank you Jesus for forgiving me when I forsook your law, your word and your ways. Thank you Jesus for making me born again from above, something I could never earn or deserve. Thank you Jesus for rising from the dead so I could know and have eternal life. Thank you Jesus for ascending to the Father and sending your precious Holy Spirit, the comforting One.

Truly God wants us to be clean and filled inside. That is the beauty and secret to a great church, a great home, a great nation. It is more important to be connected to God and in intimate holy relationship with Him than to have a beautiful building or town. The comforter is doing that work on the inside of us and that work is ongoing and necessary.

Praying you see all that God has done, is doing and will do in your lives.

Celebrating with you,

Renae Roche 2019