Confessing Our Sin (Nehemiah 9) - Grace Reformed Evangelical Church

 

The People Confess Their Sin

 

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

by Ken Pullen

A CROOKED PATH

 

I resist paraphrasing the Word of God. Who am I to do so? I don’t believe anyone ought to be altering, rearranging, or attempting to have the words of God different than they are in His inerrant and infallible living and active Word. I rarely enter into such territory but there are occasions wherein upon reading a Scripture passage it strikes my heart, mind, and spirit and I am led to do so. Along with Bible study with my wife in our home, we both follow Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s READ the BIBLE in a Year: Calendar of Daily Readings.

This has led me to read and meditate upon the Old Covenant book of Nehemiah. With accounts of Ezra, Nehemiah, the Jewish people, and what was occurring among the people in Jerusalem around 445 B.C.

After a period of prolonged turning from God, adopting idol worship, great sin, and disobedience when arriving at chapters 8 and 9 in Nehemiah the people finally come to see, hear, acknowledge and repent of their sin. A period of REVIVAL.

There is nothing, not one word at any point or place within God’s living word that cannot be applied for instruction, reproof, guidance, awareness, repentance, and realization of how lost we are, what we truly are, in our finite way come to know and understand what and Who God is, His promises, His just judgment, and from the beginning of the Word throughout — His Son, Lord of lords, King of kings, Redeemer, Saviour of those who have faith in Him and obeys Him, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.

This is the only reason to paraphrase the Word of God to illustrate how the whole Bible is alive and applies to every life yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are all sinners living in a fallen and corrupted world. Of our own doing as a result of rebellion and disobedience. And history repeats itself daily. Billions of times. Without any alteration. Thus, every Word within the Word is applicable to every life every day — for every possible circumstance, situation, individual condition, feeling, and action, any and all human beings can experience is found somewhere within God’s Word.

Thus, what is contained in Nehemiah chapters 8 and 9 can be directly applied to U.S. today, and every person living in every Western nation that has been greatly, richly blessed and in all that we have and they have — all, everything, has come from God. From God’s love, mercy, and grace.

There is all manner of writing, words, preaching — talk of revival, and yet almost to a person they go about asking, seeking, but fail to understand why revival hasn’t occurred. Waiting, it appears for God to do something about revival rather than WE THE PEOPLE doing something about revival!

Upon reading Nehemiah 8 and 9 unless a person is indwelt of the Holy Spirit, or of the right heart and mind in approaching those words they most likely won’t have any understanding in them of how events that took place about 2,400 years ago, in Israel, in Jerusalem. among the Jews have any relevance to their life, to what is taking place in America, or in Western nations such as England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for example, and within EVERY Western nation that has been so abundantly blessed by God through history.

But the events of then have direct relevance to this very day in this very land, with our very people.

How can this be?

Let’s first read a passage from Nehemiah chapter 9:

The Levitical priests stood on the steps of the first Temple — Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

I have provided links to the full chapters of Nehemiah we’re discussing here, but let’s now go further down into chapter 9 as the Levitical priests proclaim to the people their history and all that…

“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them…”

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf…”

“Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.”

“Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.”

“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.”

Today, this applies directly, wholly as if delivered from a just and holy pastor, or pastors bringing people together to confess their sin, repent, and turn back to the Lord in a genuine revival. The following are my feeble words, not being a pastor or having such ability, not being measured out by our Great and Mighty God to be so, but attempting in my limited manner to paraphrase the words in Nehemiah to folks today…

You are God alone. You have made everything known and everything we are blessed with, and You alone, with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit by Your will preserve and hold all things together. You had great mercy and love for our forefathers who settled in this land, and by Your Divine Providence delivered this rich land into their hands and greatly blessed them and all the people of this land. Nevertheless, over time, yet not much time considering the ages of many other cultures and peoples, while our land was given by you to us, such a rich and blessed and vast land, over time our people turned from you, rebellious, disobedient, with stiff necks, cold hearts and wondering spirits to their own ways forsaking all you have given us.

Our leaders, our officials, and our people have not kept your commandments and ways even with the great goodness and blessing you continued to bestow upon us these years. Even in this large and rich land that you set aside for us our leaders, our officials, and our people determined to not serve You or turn from their and our wicked ways! The wicked prevail and discredit and blaspheme against Your truth and ways, and any and all who speak of Your righteousness, Your goodness, Your glory and they work day and night to corrupt, pervert, and remove Your inerrant Word from the ears and minds of the people. Nevertheless, in Your great mercy, You have not yet destroyed us or forsaken us. For You are a gracious and merciful God. To a point. As we of the remnant, knowing Your Word know this world has but a season until Your will be done as unrighteousness and wickedness gain and more and more people turn from You, from Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from the Holy Spirit, and from the Scriptures.

Now, therefore, our God, our Great, Mighty, and Awesome God, Who keeps His promises and steadfast love, these hardships, these sufferings, these troubles we have brought upon ourselves from our rebellion and turning from Your ways, Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and Your Word as our leaders, our officials, our teachers, priests, preachers, and pastors, our people have not paid attention to Your Word, Your warnings and those You provide and measure out in our day to provide the warnings, and our leaders, our officials, those over us, and our teachers and people refuse to turn from their wicked ways and serve You, rather serving Satan and being enslaved to him and evil while knowing better as there is no excuse among our leaders, our officials, our teachers and people who use Your name in vain and pursue their own ways, through idol worship, earth worship in a rampant self-serving manner. They are slaves, our people are slaves to wickedness foolishly imagining themselves enlightened! Our leaders and officials work to rule over our bodies, our property, our livestock, and food, they attempt to rule over us in every manner devoid of Your Word and ways as they serve only the Evil One. We are in great distress.

Because of this we repent of our sin, and put it in writing, as we also write our sincere repentance upon our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. Have mercy on us Great, Good, Mighty, and Awesome God! And may Your servants, those in the professed ministry of Your Word truly repent and be led and lead us by the power of Your Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit working in all of them.

Until and unless there is sincere, deep from the heart and spirit repentance, the confessing of our sin and a turning back to the Lord and His commandments, His Word in EVERY professed Christian — NOT putting our trust and hope in a nation, in a political party, not paying more attention to our favored politicians or political ideologies, or the news, and until and unless we put our focus, our time, our attention, our hearts and minds on the Lord, in prayer, in the Word more and more and more — earnestly, fervently, and seek INDIVIDUAL REVIVAL there will be no revival in our land.

And if this suits you, if you foolishly imagine you can make our land and the world a better place via elections, or the politicians you favor, the political party you belong to and you’re attempting to create the kingdom of God on earth, or you like how things are proceeding cheering on the destruction of the earth and what that truly means — for millions yet to come to the Lord — you are selfish and utterly lost!

For the door of grace remains open and it is only through the preaching and the teaching of sound doctrine, from the whole of the Word of God, by those true believers who are truly living as a light unto the world, the salt of the earth, spreading the Good News, the gospel, which is Jesus Christ, that the lost come to be found — as the seed of truth and life is planted in individual hearts and minds and the Spirit of God then works in them. Our prayer is these seeds sown fall on fertile ground and take root. Be hopeful, by joyful, for our faith began with only twelve, and look how it has grown! Do not doubt the power of God to work in an individual’s heart and spirit. For we were all in darkness, were darkness, enemies of God one time ourselves dear brothers and sisters now in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How selfish and utterly lost to foolishly imagine a worldly political system, a man or a woman that is as much a sinner as everyone else can somehow save U.S., save any place or people, or that you relish what is happening and remain silent and idle rooting on the destruction of all things as they have been known not giving any mind, any of your heart to those still in darkness, that are darkness and can come to the Light, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, eternal life in the Lord!

It is time now, today, to repent and confess our sin and turn back to the Lord our God and commit in writing, in the writing on your heart, mind, and spirit to repent and obey and serve God Almighty as a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, asking faithfully to know the will of God through the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God to serve the Lord!

Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 9