Mo 1/15Tu 1/16We 1/17Th 1/18Fr 1/19Sa 1/20Su 1/21
Neh. 5
Acts 15
Neh. 6
Acts 16
Neh. 7
Acts 17
Neh. 8
Acts 18
Neh. 9
Acts 19
Neh. 10
Acts 20
Neh. 11
Acts 21


A few weeks ago Pastor Bayly preached to us on the first part of Ecclesiastes 3. Verse 4 in that chapter tells us there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” We see this truth played out in our reading in Nehemiah this week.

In Nehemiah 8, Ezra the priest reads the law of Moses to the people who had returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. The people respond with weeping because of the many ways they and their fathers had disobeyed the LORD. Surprisingly, Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites tell the people not to mourn or weep.

What’s up with that?

Some biblical context is needed here.

This event took place on the first day of the seventh month. This day was designated in the Mosaic Law as the feast of trumpets (Lev. 23:23–25), known more commonly today as Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. It was a holy day appointed by the LORD for the celebration of God’s goodness to His people. That is what’s behind the leaders’ statement and exhortation in Nehemiah 8:9: “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.”

One significant way the people of Israel had been unfaithful to the LORD was by not keeping the holy convocations appointed by Him in His law (Neh. 8:17). This unfaithfulness was a legitimate reason to mourn. However, God displays incredible mercy and kindness: when the people become aware of their failure to keep “the appointed times of the LORD,”1 the first appointed time on the schedule happens (in God’s providence) to be a day of celebration. And since God keeps His schedule faithfully—even when His people do not—rather than rubbing their noses in their sin, He tells them they are not to mourn or weep. Instead, they are to “eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared” (Neh. 8:10).

The people do get to mourning and fasting several weeks later, when the time is right (see Neh. 9). But when God says it’s time to feast, it’s time to feast!

  1. See Leviticus 23. ↩︎


Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
—Nehemiah 8:10


  • Adoration – Praise God for being a God who turns our mourning into dancing. (Ps. 30:11)
  • Confession – Confess occasions where you have not given to God the time that you should have given Him.
  • Thanksgiving – Thank God for times of celebration and feasting.
  • Supplication – Ask God for wisdom to know when to feast and when to fast.

Click HERE to ask the pastors a question about anything in your Bible reading.

This post by Alex McNeilly

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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