By: David Stephens
Being under anything can be difficult. Being under something forces us to feel its weight. Being under something can create an uncomfortable pressure. But being under something can also be comforting. Like being under a soft blanket on a chilly night. Or like being under an umbrella in a rainstorm.

Being under the word of God is both. It is weighty. Heavy even. But that same weight, that same heaviness, is also our source of comfort. Our source of protection. Our salvation. Heaviness and lightness. 

In Nehemiah 8, God’s people were reintroduced to the word of God. Try to envision the beautiful picture. Everyone was gathered for one purpose, to hear God’s word. Ezra ascended a platform that was specially built for this special event. The ears of the people were attentive to the word. And the word was explained so that everyone could understand it.

As they heard the word, they felt its heaviness press down on them. They were reminded of how far they had strayed from God’s plan for them, and it broke them. It must have been a grave scene. There was so much mourning for sin that Nehemiah had to join Ezra on the platform to comfort the people. And the message of comfort to the people was this: Today is Holy in the Lord’s eyes. 

The day was holy because the people were listening to God’s convicting words while standing in the midst of God’s restorative work. Yes, their rebellion destined them for destruction, but they were restored. 

And that is the gospel. God’s word teaches us that, even on our best days, we cannot stand in His presence. Our best acts are like dirty rags compared to His holiness. As hard as we try on our own, we are still destined for destruction. But God steps in and, for those who believe, He rebuilds broken walls and restores shattered lives. He brings His children back home. 

In a beautiful and miraculous juxtaposition, the gospel shows us our doom without the cross and our salvation through the cross. Like a path in the wilderness or a river in the desert.

It’s not pleasant to think about us without Jesus. But we have to. Remembering our lost state is what makes our salvation so amazing. 

It’s good to remember. The taste of redemption is only as sweet as our understanding of the depths of our need for it. 

The heaviness of God’s word reminds us of our dire situation before the cross, and then leads us into celebration when we see our salvation through the cross. 

In Nehemiah 8, the people mourned their lostness, and then celebrated. They rejoiced with a joy that only the rescued can comprehend. 

Being under the Word is both heavy and light. What a beautiful juxtaposition!
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