“This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. Nehemiah 8:9
Weeping - “One lesson became perfectly clear: Any nation that turns away from its founding principles and repudiates the values upon which it was founded is destined for the ash heap of history.” James Black – When Nations Die.
Sobering words, indeed. James Black investigated ten major civilizations spanning thousands of years of human history. His conclusion: once a culture abandons its founding principles, it begins a process of self-destruction. It rots from the inside out, until one day it collapses. What are the consistent signs of this process? Loss of respect for authority, deterioration in quality of leadership, collapse of education and values, lack of knowledge of history, moral failure, increased promiscuity, increased taxation, economic despair, loss of cultural uniqueness. When these actions and attitudes overtake a civilization, it is doomed to destruction. This was true in ancient Egypt, in Rome, in the empires of Asia and Europe and it is true today. A generation or two after these factors take over the thinking of the populace, the civilization is finished.
Nehemiah brought Israel back from captivity. God dealt very harshly with His people. In order to rid them of their idolatry, He brought the empire to destruction. When Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem, the people knew that they needed to recover a lost heritage. That heritage was the Law of God. Without it, Israel was nothing but a once-great empire. So, when the Law was read once again in the presence of the people, when the principles of the culture were reiterated and understood, when the people embraced God’s way of living, there was great weeping. Why? Because the enormous tragedy of the captivity became clear. Idolatry was behind it all. They wept because they mourned their sin.
And they wept because God restored them. Now they understood. Now they realized that the Holy One of Israel had not abandoned them. Their great suffering led to revival. This is a revival that would last because the lesson cost so much. Never again has Israel worshipped a false God. But it took total destruction to get the message.
The Hebrew verb bakah means weeping or wailing because of grief, pain, humiliation or joy. The people are experiencing all of this, but Nehemiah instructs them to not weep. Yes, your pain is real. Yes, your joy is real. But today God is honored because you have come back to Him. Today is true revival because the foundation of our way of life has been restored. Today we are once again committed to living as His people. Nehemiah’s message is for us too.
If our nation is to survive, it will need more, much more, than spiritual revival. It will need to return to a whole-hearted adoption of the Law of God. It will need true revival – word and deed in alignment with Him. Otherwise, it’s over. It’s just a matter of time.
Topical Index: revival, law, James Black, nations, weeping, bakah, Nehemiah 8:9