When we set our hearts to obey God’s Word—allowing His Spirit to expose and mortify all sin in our lives—the Lord Himself causes us to rejoice. “God had made them rejoice with great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43). I believe this poured-out blessing includes abundant joy, even in the midst of our trials. The Lord opens heaven and baptizes us with “Jesus joy”—with shouting, rejoicing and singing—no matter what our circumstances.
Nehemiah reminded a rejoicing Israel of how God had provided for their forefathers in the wilderness. The Lord had poured out manifold mercies on them. He had taught them by His Spirit and led them by the cloud and the pillar of fire. He had supernaturally provided them with manna and water. And, miraculously, He didn’t allow their clothes or shoes ever to wear out (see Nehemiah 9:19-21).
How do these kinds of blessings sound to you? Manifold mercies, clear direction, God’s Spirit teaching you, all your physical and material needs supplied. That all sounds wonderful to me! And, indeed, all these blessings hold true for us today. The Lord, in His great mercy, has promised to provide them all for His people.
Yet, we can still choose to live in a wilderness, as Israel did. Nehemiah pointed out that their forefathers had rebelled against the Lord, ignoring His law: “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs. . . . Yet many years didst thou forbear them . . . yet would they not give ear” (Nehemiah 9:26, 30).
Can you imagine the awful spiritual death these people brought upon themselves? Forty years of Sabbaths without any joy or mirth. Forty years of funerals, without ever entering the Promised Land. These Israelites were rich with blessings, increased with goods, needing nothing—but they were lukewarm in spirit.
This is a picture of Jehovah Jireh—the God who faithfully provides for His people even when they become hardened to His Word. The Israelites had become bored with the things of God and were just going through the motions. In His mercy, the Lord continued to direct their daily affairs and provide for them. But these people would never enter into His fullness. Is it any wonder their clothes and shoes never wore out? They simply weren't going anywhere.