"Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is Yahweh." (Psalm 144:15)
Every loving father wants his children to be happy, and our heavenly Father is no exception. But happiness does not come by pursuing happiness; happiness comes by pursuing holiness. Many people seek happiness in money and material possessions, but Yeshua said "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). True and lasting happiness does not come from worldly riches, worldly fame, or worldly power. It comes from a life of holiness.
God wants us to be happy, but He wants us to be happy about the right things and for the right reasons. And we do have a lot of reasons to be happy. God has given us His Son so that we can have forgiveness and eternal life. He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can sense the wonderful presence of the Lord and experience God's comfort, joy, peace, and power. He has given us the Scriptures so that we have an infallible roadmap to guide us through this wicked, dangerous world. He has made us a part of Messiah's Body, where we can enjoy fellowship and friendship with brothers and sisters.
This world is a sad, miserable place, but we have some things to be extremely happy about if our God is Yahweh. "Happy is that people whose God is Yahweh" (Ps. 144:15).
A lot of people suffer from depression. There is a time to weep and mourn, of course, but it is a time, i.e., a specific block of time with a beginning and an end. It's normal to be sad when tragedy strikes, but life-long or even long-term depression is not God's will. If you lose something or someone you love, you may feel the ache and the loss for the rest of your life, but the time of deep mourning eventually comes to an end. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps. 30:5). When your morning comes, it's time to stop weeping and find some joy.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." If it's not a time to weep and mourn, then it's a time to laugh and dance and be happy. If you suffer from abnormal, long-term depression, go to prayer and get into the presence of the Lord, and your depression will melt away. "In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures evermore" (Ps. 16:11). Depression cannot survive in a place where there is fullness of joy and pleasures evermore. The closer you draw to the Lord, the further away your depression will recede. Depression cannot survive in a happy heart, so get your heart full of the joy of the Lord. Then put up a "No Vacancy" sign over your heart when depression comes knocking at your door.
"The joy of Yahweh is your strength," Nehemiah said (Neh. 8:10). These words were spoken to a people who were weeping and mourning. It was the first day of the seventh month, Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpet Blasting, now commonly called Rosh HaShanah). Ezra was reading the Torah to the people who had assembled together. As the Levites explained the meaning of the Torah, the people understood it and it caused them to weep and mourn. Apparently their understanding of God's Law made them realize their sins, because "by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20) and "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites told the people to stop weeping and mourning. "This day is holy unto Yahweh your God; mourn not, not weep...Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of Yahweh is your strength" (Neh. 8:9f).
"But if the people were weeping over their sins, that's good, isn't it? So why did Nehemiah and Ezra tell them to stop?"
Probably because the people were repentant and contrite. To "repent" literally means to return, and that is exactly what these Jews were doing. They had left the comfort and the familiarity of Babylon and returned to the Land of Promise to rebuild Jerusalem. Now they were returning to the Torah and assembling together to honor Yahweh's appointed times. They were just starting to relearn the ancient ways that their forefathers had forsaken, so their obedience to the Torah was imperfect, which caused them to weep. But they were on the right path and were headed in the right direction, and that was the important thing. So in spite of their imperfect obedience, they were told by their leaders to rejoice. So "all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth" (Neh. 8:12).
Like the Jewish exiles who left Babylon, we Messianic disciples have left the confusion of Mainstream Christianity to return to the ancient paths of our spiritual forefathers. We are learning to walk in ancient paths, but these paths are new to us, so we make mistakes along the way. However, we are on the right road and headed in the right direction. Therefore we should not be a sad, mournful, guilt-ridden people. We should be a happy people, because happy is that people whose God is Yahweh. We should eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions and make great mirth. And, like the Jews of Nehemiah's generation, we should work to bring about the restoration of all things, because the heavens must retain the Messiah Yeshua "until the restitution [restoration] of all things" (Acts 3:21).
The Jews who left Babylon did not return to Jerusalem to be spectators. They came to be active participants in the work of restoration. If you have left the confusion of Mainstream Christianity, do you want to be an active participant in the restoration of all things, or are you content to be a mere spectator? Or, God forbid, are you so clueless about what's happening that you are not even aware enough to be a spectator?
A spectator at least realizes that something is happening, something that deserves his attention. But I'm afraid that many church people are not even aware of the restoration that is taking place. Just as the clueless disciples in Ephesus told Paul "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" (Acts 19:2), so some clueless Christians today have not so much as heard whether there be any return to Torah or any restoration of the kingdom to Israel taking place. And if they are too apathetic to be awakened out of their slumber, they will remain in their fossilized religious systems, just as most Jews remained in Babylon. Only a remnant came out of Babylon, and only a remnant has come out of the spiritual Babylon of Mainstream Christianity to find a happy life walking in God's Law as they follow Yeshua.
Some Christians think the words "happy" and "law" are incompatible and mutually exclusive. You can believe that if you want, or you can believe what the Bible says. There are many verses that show a link between happiness and keeping God's Law. One such verse is Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law [Torah], happy is he." The first half of this verse gets quoted a lot by Christians. I have heard the words "Where there is no vision, the people perish" quoted from pulpits and on Christian radio programs. I have seen the words printed in church bulletins and on banners to inspire church members to catch the vision and get involved in whatever project their church is currently launching--an evangelistic outreach, a new children's program, a new soup kitchen, a new wing being added to their church building. But for some reason, the second half of Proverbs 29:18 is not included in the quote. This is unfortunate, because the second half of the verse states the happy alternative to perishing for lack of a vision: "But he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
The Hebrew word translated "happy" in Proverbs 29:18 and in Psalm 144:15 is asherei. Some verses where asherei is translated "blessed" in the KJV also show a link between happiness and keeping God's Law. "Blessed [asherei, happy] are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of Yahweh. Blessed [asherei, happy] are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart" (Ps. 119:1f).
"Blessed [asherei, happy] is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law [Torah] of Yahweh; and in His law doth he meditate day and night" (Ps. 1:1f).
Happiness is promised to those who awaken and recognize the shofar's call when they hear it: "Blessed [asherei, happy] is the people that know the joyful sound [teruah, shofar blast]" (Ps. 89:15).
Happiness is promised to all who keep the Sabbath. "Blessed [asherei, happy] is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it" (Isa. 56:2). Notice, this promise of happiness for keeping the Sabbath is not just for the Jews. It does not say "blessed is the Jew that doeth this, and the son of Israel that layeth hold on it." Rather, it says "blessed is the man [enosh, mortal], and the son of man [ben-adam, son of Adam]." Happiness for keeping the Sabbath is promised to every mortal descendant of Adam, and that includes you.
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Image (Top): Moses' Ethiopian Wife, by Daniel Botkin from his Portraits of Prophets Gallery on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.