In Chapter 8 I wrote about the impact hearing God’s word had on Jerusalem, convicting people of their sin and returning them back to Him. In other words, Restoration begins in God’s Word.
Today we will see the natural overflow of restoration (and conviction) is confession, which leads to purification.
Chapters Thus Far:
1 – Nehemiah broken when learns of state of Jerusalem; because he loves God and hurts to see the state of His people and desires to see His promise fulfilled.
2: 1-10 – Nehemiah desires to bring God glory so much he abandons his Persian palace and heads out to do work in Jerusalem.
2:11-20 – We learn of the calling to Go and Rebuild.
3 – The Gates parallel the Christian life. Ah-Mazing stuff…
4 – External Opposition : way in which the devil attacks
5:1-6 – Responding to Anger Part 1 – wrong doing is inevitable; think before you speak.
6 -Proper handling of opposition of comes with a attributes I do not have!
7 – When God takes roll of His people, which tribe will you be associated with?
8 – Restoration begins with God’s Word
Let’s dive right in.
Their repentance in chapter 8 led to fasting and wearing sackcloth and we discover they had began (a natural?) separation process.
I have certainly found, experientially, in my life that when I began a repentant process I naturally separate myself from the sources of conviction and, then, confess my sins…but confession of the sins of my ancestors!? I don’t do this…should I? It’s a thread we see throughout scripture, even in this book, when Neh opens with prayer in Chapter 1 he confesses the sins of his people (even though he does not appear to be sinning).
And I think there in lies the big difference of ‘then’ vs ‘now’ or ‘them’ vs ‘me.’ The people of God seem to view themselves as a collective one, in an extreme way, a hive mind. We don’t today. I don’t today. I don’t pray and confess on behalf of my friends/family because I do not view myself as one with them, as one people group. I think I should.
Lord, transform my heart to consider my life one with my family; not separate from.
(Man, this chapter is meaty!)
They read for (3) hours and then confessed for (3) hours…DUDE, I get frustrated when the entire Sunday morning service goes more than 50 minutes!
What is the natural progression? Praise.
They praise God for being everlasting and then, in the next 31 verses, pray the longest prayer in scripture. From the blog link there:
“It confesses before a faithful God the history of a faithless people…
As Christ’s followers we are grafted into this family (Gal. 3:7–9), and we can share in this prayer for mercy from our covenant-keeping God. The prayer unfolds history as God’s acts of grace and mercy—from creation (Neh. 9:6), to the Abrahamic covenant (Neh. 9:7–8), to the deliverance from Egypt (Neh. 9:9–11), to God’s wilderness provisions (including the law [Neh. 9:12–15]), to a kingdom in a rich land (Neh. 9:22–25). This outpouring of God’s faithfulness is interrupted by two sections which confess the people’s rebellion against him (Neh. 9:16–21, 26–31). But there are repeated appeals to a merciful God, “abounding in steadfast love” (Neh. 9:17; see also Ex. 34:6; Deut. 7:9). The focus is on God’s “covenant and steadfast love” (Neh. 9:32), ever the basis on which his people approach him.”
In other words, they are reminded, once again, about who God is, what He has done and what He is doing. They have found themselves separated from Him, far away from His will, His purpose for His people, and they are, again, on the road to recovery.
Sound familiar? It is the story we read time and time again. It is their story and it is ours.