Today’s reading: Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-13
11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11
6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? Acts 2:6-7
The life of faith is not a cold, intellectual exercise. The presence of God manifested by His mighty works brings deep emotional engagement to those who believe.
When the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples gathered together on the day of Pentecost, they suddenly are empowered to preach to the crowds in various languages and the people are able to understand them perfectly. God was manifesting Himself at that time and place through His apostles. The work of God, so dramatically revealed, stirred up all kinds of emotions in these devout men: bewilderment, amazement, astonishment, perplexity.
Nehemiah was burdened by the news that the walls of his beloved Jerusalem were in ruins. True, Cyrus had ordered the rebuilding of the temple and exiles had been allowed to return to do that work. Now, decades later, Nehemiah learns that the city is defenseless. He goes to God in prayer, a prayer that reveals his deep knowledge of the Lord. Nehemiah mentions a fascinating characteristic of God’s servants that they delight to fear His name.
Do you think of a devout believer as one who is cold and stoic? We see in Scripture that believers most certainly feel deeply the power and presence of God. Do you think of fear as being antithetical to delight? “How can someone delight to fear God’s name?” you may ask. Yet the knowledge of Almighty God brings a proper fear and awe to the heart of the believer that is delightful. The fear comes because we know Him to be Almighty, but that knowledge is also accompanied by joy, delight in knowing that He can and will fulfill His Word and keep us safe until He gets us home to glory. Fear God. Delight in the fear of Him. Be amazed. Just don’t be cold.