The temple is finished! The city walls are finished! Now it is time to celebrate! It is time to build on what has been rebuilt. How do we do that? Once we've built out of the wreckage, how do we move forward and do new things for the Lord? What we see in this chapter is that it is important to renew our commitment to God's concepts and God's habits. God's concepts are His Word. We see the people gathered around Ezra as he reads the Bible to them and then explains the meaning of what he is reading. God has spoken to us in His Word so that we will understand what our lives are for and what is most important in life. This often means that we are grieved by what God has to say to us, just as the returned exiles were (v. 9), but it also means that we will have legitimate reasons to rejoice that God has made sense of our lives. We are not left completely in the dark. They rejoiced greatly because, "they had understood the words that were declared to them." (v. 12) Moving forward requires us to be clear in understanding God's Word.
It also requires us to renew our commitment to God's habits. The people discover that there are some things that they have been neglecting to do. (vv. 13-18) In their case they had forgotten to keep a festival the way God had directed them. God has called us to a life that is defined by certain habits: prayer, accountability, fellowship, learning and serving. If we are going to build out of what has been rebuilt then it will mean recovering some necessary habits that we have allowed to go unused for too long. Father help us to walk according to your concepts and your habits today.