Nehemiah 9 - Confession and Repentance

Nehemiah 9:1-5 - What started as a simple exercise to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, has come to a full revival and a restoration of the people's faith and trust in God. I suspect it was never really about the wall for Nehemiah, it was about God and His honor and his people, but I also don't get the sense that he set out to accomplish this. The people standing, listening to the word for 1/4 of the day and confessing their sins for 1/4 of a day.

So, what happened that they went from building a wall to repentance and restoration of worship? I have to believe that it was Nehemiah's faith. He relentlessly expressed his belief in God, his passion for His honor, his conviction that God deserved more than a crumbling city and a discouraged people. God was bigger, God was stronger, God was more faithful and Nehemiah wasn't content to sit and see God get anything less than the best.

And Nehemiah's faith was contagious, as they worked and watched his determination to honor God, they caught it.

Isn't this how the Gospel works too? If we set out to get people to be faithful, to push them to a faith that is real and transformative, we will have some success. Some will listen and respond. But, if we simply relentlessly proclaim the gospel of Jesus, never letting up the proclamation of His glory and our inadequacy the people around us will get it. It will affect them, the gospel is contagious.

There surely were plenty of people in Jerusalem with belief in God. Why then did they not do what Nehemiah did? The weight of the world choked their faith, their problems were big and real and they forgot that God was bigger. Nehemiah came and refused to believe that anything was bigger than God and he refused to be deterred from proclaiming His greatness.

So, as I sit in my mediocre life, why, especially in light of the fact that I the love of God made so powerfully real in Jesus, do I act more like the residents of Jeruselem than Nehemiah?

Nehemiah 9:6-25 - As in so many Biblical revivals, it starts with a recounting of God's goodness to them over the generations, even in spite of their forefather's unfaithfulness. I wonder as they expressed it and remembered all that He had done, if they felt foolish for drifting away.

Nehemiah 9:32-37 - It comes down not to the ins of their fathers, but to their own sins. They have wandered, they have refused Him, they have forgotten all His faithfulness and they have received the resulting slavery that God had promised.

Nehemiah 9:38 - As a result of seeing their sin in contrast to His goodness, they made a covenant with God (Chapter 10). Isn't this the gospel message? When we see ourselves honestly - weak, flawed, sinful, ungodly - and God clearly - loving, patient, gracious - we cannot help but fall down and worship.

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