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 [of God]. Nehemiah 8:12 NIV
Celebrations seldom occur without a reason. We meet to celebrate something, not just because we feel good at the moment. A birthday, anniversary, sports victory or even the changing of the seasons can be reasons to celebrate. But have you ever thought of celebrating just because you finally understood something new?
Celebrating knowledge is not a totally foreign idea. We press into new territory learning a computer program or job skill or craft. We try and struggle and even despair then suddenly the light-bulb goes off and everything “fits.” We pump a fist in the air and shout, “Yes!” But, our celebration is most often short lived and often private.
When the Jews returned to Israel after seventy years of captivity, many had forgotten the Hebrew language. But as Nehemiah and the Levites read the scriptures and translated the meaning in a language they could understand, the people wept. The new knowledge was dangerous. As the writer of Hebrews would later say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” (Heb. 10:31). However, their fear was quickly changed as Nehemiah reminded them that understanding God was a good thing and the Almighty was pleased. Secure in that grace, the people began to celebrate with great joy. They were getting to know the Ruler of the Universe! That was a reason for a first class party to begin!
It’s a reason for us to celebrate, too.